On Michaelmas, September 29, I had a small role at the installation of the new rector of the Church of the Transfiguration, the Reverend Charles Miller. Next to me in choir was the Reverend Frederick Robinson, rector of the Church of the Redeemer, Sarasota, Florida. Charles, Fred and I were at Nashotah House at the same time. Charles was in the class one year ahead of me and we ended up living in the same house in the cloister for a year. Fred served as a curate for the Reverend Charles Jenkins in Arlington, Texas. I was Father (now Bishop) Jenkins's curate in Baton Rouge. During Father Miller's institution I found myself marveling at how God weaves lives together. I can tell you in the fall of 1980 I never, ever imagined that I would be where I now find myself.
I don't think very much about the future. Certainly I look forward. But I am much more disposed to see problems ahead instead of opportunities, crises instead of joys. I was thinking of this again this morning when I came across the service bulletin for my ordination to the diaconate at the Cathedral of Saint James in June 1983.
My great memory of that occasion was how cool the marble floor in the sanctuary was on a very hot, humid day in a then un-airconditioned cathedral. I was ordained with six others, one of whom, the
Reverend John McCausland, preached the sermon at my institution here. I have known John and his family since I went to graduate school in the fall of 1976 and started attending the Episcopal Church near the University of Chicago.
The service bulletin also listed the altar servers for the service, among them "Mr. Gary Lawler." Now I haven't checked today with "Father" Gary Lawler, who was curate here from 1989 to 1991, but I think he was indeed an altar server when I was ordained. He is also a Nashotah graduate and he was also ordained at the Cathedral of Saint James in Chicago. I can track some of the ways in which my life has been joined to others through old service bulletins and memories.
The image of God as weaver is very different from the image I have carried of him. For most of my life I have had a spirituality that looked at God as the great rule giver, a rule giver who kept track of who followed his rules. Of course the reality of living meant that I have over and over again found myself in situations where there were no rules, situations where the rules didn't seem right, situations where I was sure there were rules and that I was expected to know them and didn't, situations for which there didn't seem to be any rules and situations where I wondered why I didn't know the rules. Rules were my safety net, but they did not bring me joy.
Although the "Rule Giver God" is one of my "default" settings, and I know I have been trying to reset the default for years, I haven't been very successful. Part of the problem is the expectation I have that this is work I need to do. I glimpse the possibility of a breakthrough to a new way of being when I look for God to reset my default and for God to show me joy. Perhaps that is grace.
I have seen joy in the most difficult and desperate of human circumstances as well as in the most ordinary. True joy is a gift from God. I wonder how my journey in life may have been different if instead of looking for rules I had looked for the hand of God's goodness in things. I wonder what a different perspective might have meant. Maybe this was being suggested to me all along and for whatever reason I didn't hear it.
I don't have a lot of practice looking for God weaving things together for good; but I think he does just that. And I do know that in those rare moments when I do see the weavings I am a different person for myself and for others. And I think this person is closer to the person God wants me to be.
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Charles, priest, who is hospitalized and for Beatrice, Jack, Kersten, Nolan, Olga, Barbara, Helen, Mary, Lucille, Frances, Eleanor, Carl, Harold, Frank, Cindy, Eleanor, Jane, Santiago, John, Mary Josephine and Anthony and for the repose of the souls of Julia, Edgar, Margaret and Lewis . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 15: 1959 Irene Helen Williams; 1972; Wallace Charles Taylor; 1973 Ralph Burus Smith; 1997 Noel J. Blackman.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: 1 Kings 17:8-16, Psalm 146: 4-9, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant: Father Breidenthal, Preacher: Jennifer Reddall, 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin . . . Confessions will be heard on November 11 by Father Gerth . . . Confessions will be heard on November 18 by Father Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Reminder: The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Training Course meets Saturday, November 11, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM . . . As we go to press, Father Charles Whipple is at Saint Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center, Manhattan. Beatrice Norling is home after treatment at Hackensack University Medical Center. Please keep them in your prayers . . . The Rector brought Holy Communion this week to Marion Freise and to Santiago Puigbo. Marion is one of our shut-ins and Santiago is recovering from a broken leg. Please continue to keep them too in your prayers . . . Shakespeare As Theologian continues on Wednesday evenings in St. Benedict’s Study, 7:00-8:30 pm, led by Father Thomas Breidenthal. The American Globe Theatre’s production of Hamlet runs through December 3. Call 212-869-9809 for more information. (The American Globe is located on the third floor of the church office building.) . . . The Advent Quiet Day will take place on Saturday, December 9, at 10:30 am – 3:00 pm. If you are interested in attending, please print your name on the sign-up sheet on the bulletin board in St. Joseph’s Hall or call the parish office at (212) 869-5830 . . . Attendance on All Saints’ Day 221, All Souls’ Day 172, Last Sunday 162.
BLACK PALL MISSING . . . The group working on our vestments has not been able to find the parish's black pall (the large cloth which covers a coffin). Does anyone know its present location? Black is still permissible for Masses for the dead (although white is increasingly used for the Burial of the Dead because all Masses for the departed are Easter liturgies). We know that many persons may still prefer this color to be used. However, we cannot locate the parish's black pall. The present Rector has no memory of ever seeing it. If you know its location or what happened to it, please speak with Father Gerth or Father Shin.
Worship at Saint Mary’s
The Holy Eucharist
On Sundays Mass is said at 9:00 AM 5:00 PM. A Sung Mass is offered at 10:00 AM. A Solemn Mass is offered at 11:00 AM. Monday through Friday Mass is said at 12:15 PM and 6:20 PM. On Saturdays Mass is said at 12:15 PM.
The Daily Office
On ordinary Sundays Morning Prayer is said at 8:30 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 Twenty-second Week after Pentecost
Tuesday Consecration of Samuel Seabury
Thursday Margaret, queen
Friday Hugh, bishop Abstinence
Saturday Hilda, abbess
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, The Reverend J. Barrington Bates, assisting priests, The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.