God Can Use You
Sometimes it may be useful to state the obvious. I hope that to many what I am going to try to say in this short article will be obvious and useful. The regular parish community of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin is a small one by any standard. There are almost unlimited opportunities for every member or friend of this community to be useful for Christ's ministry in this place. I think you and I should have a strong sense of the possibility that God can and wants to use us for the service of the gospel in this place. I think this is probably true for almost everyone this newsletter will reach.
Saint Mary's is home to a particularly strong and rich Christian tradition. We are a church whose doors are open most of the day almost every day of the year. Our continuing open presence is itself a powerful witness to Christ in the midst of this city.
We are a church at worship every day, and most days, many times each day. In addition to the individuals who actually participate in the services with their physical presence and their responses,
many more participate quietly by their presence in the shadows of this place. Hundreds of people also come here daily to pray.
The great worship of Saint Mary's happens because of the support and commitment of the regular parish community. Your parish clergy, if I may say so, work hard, and so do too many to name. As a new rector I am almost every day discovering how different individuals serve in ways that are impossible to publicize or to recognize. Almost all of us by our "hidden work" are fulfilling in an active way Jesus' admonition to go into our closets to pray.
There are many things that Saint Mary's doesn't do right now, but it doesn't mean we won't be called to do them in the future. In 1998 the parish spent the year looking at itself and searching for a new rector. Right now we are getting ready to do a search for new music leadership. Another group is being gathered this week to assist the board with our endowment management policies (see Around the Parish for details). Soon, I suspect the Board of Trustees will initiate a process to do some short and long-range planning for the community. In other words, Saint Mary's is not standing still.
When I was in seminary one of the phrases that one heard a lot was that it was the job of the parish clergy to "enable lay ministries." The phrase is still around and I want you to know that I try to appreciate the breadth of ways in which volunteer lay persons and volunteer members of the clergy within our parish community serve the gospel through their work.
The ways in which God is calling Saint Mary's to serve his gospel will evolve. The Holy Spirit never allows a Christian community to stand still. You and I are part of God's plan to create the future, to help God write the future with the service of our lives.
God is going to want to use this community in new ways. God is going to want to use each of us in new ways. God's plans for us will not always be what we want! The record of the Scriptures and the history of Christian communities should prepare us for how hard it may be.
It would be almost sinful, I think, for us to focus on how few of us there are at Saint Mary's right now. I think you and I should be thinking about how God can use each of us in new ways for the service of his gospel. I believe God is present and working in our lives. I believe God can use everyone who wants to offer himself or herself to this service at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Jack, a child who is gravely ill and for Herbert, Margaret, Warren, Katherine Rose, Margo, Shirley, Robert, Rich, Julia, Owanah, Clara, Daniel and Samuel John . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 12: 1961 Jeanette Bolton, 1962 Martha R. Townroe; December 14: 1952; Amy Florence Nicholas; December 15: 1989 Edward David Miller; December 16: 1959 Emily Cooper Campbell, 1996 Viola Douglas, December 18: 1993 Ed Martin Riley.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 65:17-25, Psalm 126, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, John 1:6-8,19-28 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Breidenthal, Preacher: Mr. Lawson, 10:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin, 11:00 AM Celebrant and Preacher: The Rector, 5:00 PM Celebrant and Preacher: Father Shin. . On Saturday, December 11, Father Shin will hear confessions . . . On Saturday, December 18, Father Gerth will hear confessions . . . Sunday, December 12, is the Third Sunday of Advent. Rose vestments are worn and flowers are used on the high altar.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Remember the Advent Quiet Day, Saturday, December 11, from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM . . . The Rector has appointed an Investment Committee to review the investment policies for the church endowments. Many thanks to Clinton Best, James Dennis, Thomas Kamm, Barbara Klett, Robin Landis and Terrance O'Dwyer for being a part of the group initially. And many thanks to Mr. William Haas, senior churchwarden of Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, for meeting with the group and sharing the history of endowment management in his parish community . . . We were so sorry to learn Canon Garrison was mugged very near his home in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, December 7. He's going to be fine but, he was hit on the head and knocked down and has a scraped knee and a black eye. We are so very sorry. He reports that he doesn't need anything but our prayers, so please do keep him in your prayers . . . Many thanks to Phil Burgess who maintains our web site, www.stmvirgin.com. Phil recently added information on how to get here (including color coordination for the colors of the different city subway lines!) . . . As we go to press 71 pledges that total $127,553 have been received for the 2000 Stewardship Campaign . . . Ordo Kalendars for 2000 are available in the bookstore following the Sunday Solemn Mass . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, December 13, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict's Study. Meetings of the board are always open to members of the parish community . . . Attendance last Sunday: 182.
CHRISTMAS DECORATING . . . The children (and others!) are invited to decorate the Christmas tree in Saint Joseph's Hall on Sunday, December 19, following the Solemn Mass. Friday, December 24, volunteers are needed to help decorate the church, assemble the crèche, polish brass etc. We will start at 12:00 PM and hope to finish by 5:00 PM. We can use you! Howard Christian is in charge of decorations. Let him know if you can come to help.
ALARM SYSTEM WORKING . . . Repairs to the church's alarm system have been completed. Persons with a key to the sacristy are reminded that the system which monitors the sacristy is alarmed separately from the church.
OFFICE SUPPORT MINISTRY . . . The volume of work the parish office does would not be possible without the regular help of several dedicated persons. And December, the workload increases! Most weeks George Blackshire folds the Sunday bulletins. Kevin Farley is regularly here on Thursdays to help with the Angelus. George and Helena Handy, Kevin and Eileen Whittle did the Christmas mailing. To all of them, thank you!
CHRISTIAN FORMATION THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY'S . . . On Sunday morning, December 12, the Rector's Forum on "The Liturgical Act" is at 10:00 AM . . . Sunday School for children is at 11:00 AM . . . Two groups of Journey in Faith are in progress -- one on Sundays at 12:45 PM and another on Tuesdays at 7:00 PM. This class is designed for those who wish to become Christians or who wish to be confirmed or to renew the baptismal vows.
Worship at Saint Mary’s
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM. A Solemn Mass is offered at 11:00 AM. Monday through Friday Mass is said at 12:15 PM and 6:15 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:40 AM and Evening Prayer at 4:45 PM. Monday through Friday Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 AM, the Noonday Office at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM. On Saturdays the Noonday Office is offered at 12:00 PM and Evening Prayer at 5:00 PM.
The Reconciliation of Penitents
Confessions are heard on Saturdays between 11:30 and 12:00 and between 4:00 and 5:00. Appointments can also be made with members of the parish clergy for the Reconciliation of Penitents at other times.
The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
The Calendar for the Third Week of Advent
Monday Lucy, Martyr
Saturday Of Our Lady
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.