The first section of the Prayer Book is subtitled “Concerning the Service of the Church.” The text of the section begins:
The Holy Eucharist, the principal act of Christian worship on the Lord’s Day and other major Feasts, and Daily Morning and Evening Prayer, as set forth in this Book, are the regular services appointed for public worship in this Church.
That sounds pretty good on the face of it. In practice it is not an easy task. I know from serving in an average-sized Episcopal parish with average clergy resources (that is, one priest and a very few other priests in the area) that it is very hard to provide for these services day in and day out, week in and week out. Few parishes even try.
Saint Mary’s of course has been providing the “regular” services of the Church and a daily Mass for over a century. Members of this community and its friends have maintained this building and given
much so that the liturgical life of this parish could witness to the risen life of Jesus Christ our Lord. This rich liturgical life continues to transform lives. This building continues to open the eyes of men and women to see the unseen, to hear the word spoken in the heart.
Behind these words there is also a living tradition of Christian worship, which these words do not create but describe and sustain. It is not unlike what I found when I was a first year student at Nashotah House Seminary. The services of the Chapel really did shape the seminary’s work, its teaching and its community life. In its first year the new class would meet with the professor of liturgics to be given enough formation so that the members of the class could enter the ongoing worship life of the Nashotah community. In an important way, the life of the Chapel did not really begin anew every year with students leaving and entering. Certainly the mix made things different. But the Office and the Eucharist were still offered and we entered into that offering.
It is possible for a machine to produce food products identically, let us say for example, commercially produced cupcakes. In a package of six, one reasonably expects each to be virtually identical to all of the others. In ordinary cooking no cupcake in a pan of six or twelve is like any other. And as much as many have tried to legislate the liturgy into a series of identical movements and words, liturgy is much more like ordinary living, ordinary cooking and eating, than like mechanical reproduction.
Saint Mary’s is the home of a community that very early, through the eyes and heart of its founding rector, glimpsed the possibility of entering the ongoing liturgical life, a life that continues to sustain this community and to convert this community. I repeat, the Prayer Book does not create Christian community. Christ himself does that. The Church’s traditions sustain us and even describe us, but we are more than the description. We are the people who “Do This.” We are the people who “baptize in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We are the people who gather to pray as Jesus taught us to pray. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Jack who is hospitalized, James, Carol, Olga, Helen, Margaret, Shirley, Hannah, Dawn, Bryn, Mary, Lucille, Frances, Ronald, André, Edgar, Helen, Beatrice, Timothy and Marilyn. . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 10: 1994 Malcolm Benton Wallace.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 4:5-12, Psalm 98:1-6, 1 John 1:1-2:2, Luke 24:36b-48 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Gerth, Preacher: Richard Lawson; 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, May 6, by Canon Garrison at 11:30 AM and Father Gerth at 4:00 PM. Confessions will be heard on Saturday, May 6, by Father Shin.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Explanation: Last Sunday several persons asked why there were no large print bulletins for the Solemn Mass. We apologize but the drawer that holds the large paper was jamming and we were unable to get a maintenance person here until Monday. It’s working now! . . . The Board of Trustees meets this month on Tuesday, May 16, at 7:00 PM . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training course meets on Saturday, May 20, from 9:00 PM to 3:00 PM . . . Flowers are needed for Sunday, May 21. You may give flowers by calling the parish office or by signing the sheet in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Attendance last Sunday: 141
STAFF TRANSITIONS . . . Dan Fannon came to see me on Tuesday, May 2, to let me know that his last service as interim organist at Saint Mary’s would be the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day, June 1. Dan reminded me that his first love, his call as a Christian musician, is as a choral director. Some organists do choral work so that they can play the organ; some choirmasters play the organ so that they can direct choirs. I am very thankful for Dan’s work here since last October and I will miss him. Dan also reminded me of his long history of association with Saint Mary’s. Neither he nor I can predict the future but I will not be surprised should he be in the gallery again. I’d also like to tell you that I haven’t really had a chance to report to you on the status of my search of permanent leadership for the music program here at Saint Mary’s. Quite frankly, the preparations for Holy Week necessarily consumed a great deal of my time last month. I want you to know that I haven’t been inactive in this area. And I’d like to repeat something that I have written and said many times over the last few months, I expect the parish will continue to have a rich music program that will lead the parish in its work and ministry. S.G.
A WONDERFUL INVITATION . . . The Churchwardens and Vestry of Saint Bede’s Church, Syosset, request your presence at the Institution of the Reverend William Curtis Parker as fourth rector of the parish on Saturday, May 20, 2000, at 11:00 AM. Luncheon follows in the parish house. RSVP 516-921-0755.
THE RECTOR WILL BE AWAY . . . I will be leaving on Sunday evening, May 7, to attend a class, “Leadership in Ministry,” at Lost River Retreat Center, Lost River, West Virginia. I will be able to spend two nights with my family. I expect to return to the rectory sometime on Friday, May 12. S.G.
This week at Saint Mary’s
Sunday 10:00 AM The Rector's Class
in Saint Benedict's Study
Wednesday 7:00 PM Jesus of History and Faith
in Saint Benedict's Study
The Calendar for the Third Week of Easter
Monday Julian of Norwich
Tuesday Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop
Wednesday Easter Weekday
Thursday Easter Weekday
Friday Easter Weekday Abstinence Dispensed
Saturday Easter Weekday
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector, The Reverend Allen Shin, curate, The Reverend Thomas Breidenthal, assistant, The Reverend Arthur Wolsoncroft, The Reverend Canon Maurice Garrison, The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.