One of my good friends always says of the Christmas Eve service, "It goes so fast." She's right. More than any other liturgy of the church year, it seems to me that the Midnight Mass goes so very quickly. Perhaps it isn't entirely our fondness for and familiarity with this liturgy that makes it seem short to me. We have been living for months in a world surrounded by shoppers and entertainments, a world in which we all participate to some degree. When we are weary our perceptions are not always clear. Occasionally, time seems to stand still during the liturgy. But at Midnight Mass it just flies.
Perhaps another reason time seems so special during this liturgy is all of the work that has been going on at Saint Mary's. The love for the Lord Jesus and for this parish community is palpable. The church and all of its appointments were beautifully prepared. Because Christmas Eve was also Sunday, this was a great, great challenge for all who were helping decorate as well as for those who were feeding the decorators! A large group of altar servers simply moved into the sacristy for the day to prepare the Masses for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Ushers enjoyed handling the crowds.
The music too was a special treat. The parish staff worked so very hard. And you know there is no way I could begin to name names of parishioners or staff without inadvertently leaving out too many. There were simply that many people helping! It is such an honor to be your rector at Christmas. Words cannot express my affection for this parish community. Merry Christmas.
PRAYER LIST…Your prayers are asked for Beatrice, Jack, Olga, Helen, Mary, Lucille, Frances, Carl, Harold, Frank, Cindy, Eleanor, Jane, John, Kersten, Nolan, Barbara, Santiago, Rick, Judy, Mary Josephine, Anthony, Roy, Peter, Phillip, Charles, priest, and Rodney, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 31: 1961 Everett Irwin; 1985 Frances Bulkley Hirsch and Anna Marie Schuman; January 1: 1983 Gertrude Schrage.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Isaiah 61:10-62:3, Psalm 147:13-21, Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7, John 1:1-18 . . . 9:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Shin, 10:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Breidenthal, 11:00 AM Celebrant & Preacher: Father Gerth . . . The parish clergy will not sit for confessions on Saturday, January 6.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . It was great to see Saint Mary's pictured in The Daily News on Christmas Eve . . . The Annual Meeting of the Society of King Charles the Martyr will be held in the Church of Saint John the Evangelist, Newport, Rhode Island, on Saturday, January 27, at 11:00 AM. for more details please contact Mark Wuonola, 291 Bacon Street, Piety Corner, Waltham, Massachusetts 02451, firstname.lastname@example.org . . . Pledge envelopes are now available on Sundays from the ushers if you have requested them. If you need them mailed to you, please call the parish office . . . We are still waiting for the 2001 Ordo Calendars to arrive . . . As we go to press, AVE for January-February 2001 has gone to the bulk mailers. We apologize for the delay! . . . We were so delighted that Miss Beatrice Norling was able to be at Mass last Sunday! Miss Norling lives in New Jersey and her neighbor treated her with a ride to Saint Mary's. It made our day! . . . Attendance last Sunday: 146, Christmas 495.
ABOUT NEW YEAR'S EVE . . . This year the church must close on New Year's Eve, Sunday, December 31, no later than 3:00 PM. Actually, no one knows in advance when 46th Street will be closed between Sixth Avenue and Times Square. However, once closed, only persons who live or work on the block and who have a pass can enter. The police will decide on Sunday afternoon as the crowd grows in Times Square when to shut the block. This year, it is not expected to happen before 5:00 PM. Again, to have access to the church for any reason after the street is closed you will need a pass from the church office.
ABOUT NEW YEAR'S DAY . . . And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb (Luke 2:21) . . . Last year it was not possible to celebrate Solemn Mass on the Feast of the Holy Name because of the New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square. This year (the true millennium!) we return to the pattern of recent years and offer Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM. This is the only service on New Year's Day and the church building will only be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
ABOUT THE EPIPHANY . . . Our solemn liturgy for The Epiphany will be celebrated on Friday, January 5, at 6:00 PM. The Right Reverend E. Don Taylor, vicar bishop for New York City, will be here as celebrant & preacher. The parish Christmas party follows the Mass. On Saturday, January 6, the Noonday Office will be said at 12:00 PM, Mass will be said at 12:15 PM, and Evening Prayer will be said at 5:00 PM. The parish clergy will not sit for confessions except by appointment.
YEAR-END CONTRIBUTIONS . . . If you are planning to make a contribution to the church and receive 2000 contribution credit from the IRS, please be aware of the following guidelines that must be followed: All contributions must by received in the church office in 2000 to receive credit in 2000. The church will close on Sunday, December 31, at 3:00 PM. Mailed contributions must be postmarked in 2000 to receive credit in 2000. Contributions of stock and securities can also be received by the Society of the Free Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. Call Barbara Klett, 212-869-5830, for more information. Finally, to ensure the deductibility of your church contribution, please do not file your 2000 income tax return until you have received written acknowledgements of your contributions from the church.
The Calendar of the Week
SUNDAY The First Sunday after Christmas Day
Monday The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Tuesday Christmas Weekday
Wednesday Christmas Weekday
Thursday Christmas Weekday
Friday Christmas Weekday & Epiphany Eve No Abstinence
Saturday The Epiphany
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.