Worship Fuels Mission
After Evensong last Sunday I overheard Bishop Taylor and Father Weiler talking about the Church. My ears perked up when I heard Father say to Bishop Taylor, “Worship fuels mission.” I wrote it down. A+, Father Weiler. These three simple, direct and good words articulate a primary and essential purpose of Christian worship. Our worship is in tune with God’s purposes when worship “fuels” our mission as a Christian community and as individual Christians.
When I was a first year student at Nashotah House a very prominent charismatic leader of our Church came as a guest preacher. He spent his sermon warning us about the dangers of Anglo-catholic worship. I wasn’t sure this was entirely appropriate for someone who was not an Anglo-catholic to undertake as a guest preacher during a Solemn Mass. From his words during Mass and from his remarks at a seminar the next day, I’m not sure he had ever been seduced by liturgical worship. Few Episcopalians who are not Anglo-catholics know what I mean.
The greatest sign of God’s real presence among us is the assembly of the baptized. The places where the baptized gather are a table and a pool. It is here they transact the rites of life and death. They die, yet they live. They hunger, yet are filled. They are poor, yet are rich. They are sinners, yet redeemed for eternity. Those who have ears to hear hear; those who have eyes to see see. The reverence a Christian community gives to a newcomer is the same reverence we give to the body of one who has died. Christ is in all and fills all. We sing alleluia at baptism, we sing alleluia for the presence of the Word, we sing alleluia at the grave. Again, Christ is in all and fills all.
Our Christian life is not about acting out words printed in a book. Worship is not theater. We are not in a play with a script. It is not an intellectual exercise. There is no room for connoisseurship. Christian life is about living life itself in the fullest and truest way possible in this world and in the world to come. It is about being as individuals and as the assembly one part of the Body of Christ.
It is in the worship of the assembly that we experience the truth about God’s plan for the salvation of all. It is in the worship of the assembly that we hear God’s plan for our church community and for our individual lives. It is in the worship of the assembly that we are offered the opportunity to turn from the way of death to the way of life. Nothing essential has changed for creation since Jesus returned from forty days in the wilderness to proclaim, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
I know that it is easy for some to look at our Christian community in particular and say that we are acting something out on Sundays, that we are putting on a “show.” As one of the pastors of this community, I know that those who are looking primarily for outward and visible signs can miss the inward and spiritual reality of this community, in particular its generosity and care for its own members and others.
We are intentional about our welcome in the name of Christ at every celebration of the Mass or Office, but I do wonder whether we are as intentional in our conversation about mission. We are not here for ourselves but for others. I think it is important for me to say this often and for you and me to be intentional about listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit for new ways to serve. Worship that does not fuel mission is not Christian worship. Stephen Gerth
PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for Mary who is gravely ill and for Bettyann, Eileen, Fred, Jerri, Myra, Sarah, Doreen, Mabel, Gloria, Marion, Olga, Peter, Betty, Kenneth, Maureen, Marie, Rick, Edgar, John, Joanne, Barbara, Amy and Charles, priest. Pray also for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Patrick, Edward, Christopher, Andrew, Robert, Joseph, Mark, Ned, David and John and for the repose of the soul of Robert.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . June 6: 1959 Grace Frisby Conklin; 1966 Dudley Harrison Briggs; June 8: 1967 Mary E. Longley, 1998 Anthony Guarino, 2000 Charles Gaylord Mason.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Deuteronomy 8:2-3, Psalm 116: 10-17, Revelation 19:1-2a, 4-9, John 6:47-58 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, June 1 by Father Smith and on Saturday, June 8, by Father Weiler . . . Beginning Sunday, June 2, Evening Prayer will be said at 5:00 PM on Sundays followed by a Said Mass at 5:20 PM . . . The Feast of the Sacred Heart is observed this year on the Friday, June 7. Sung Mass will be offered at 6:00 PM.
NOTES ON MUSIC . . . Sunday, June 2, at the Solemn Mass, the prelude will be O sacrum convivium from Saint Augustine’s Organbook by Gerald Near (b. 1942) and the postlude will be Paean by Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988). Leighton was one of the most distinguished British composers of his generation and developed a unique harmonic language. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Canterbury Mass by Anthony Piccolo (b. 1946). Piccolo, an American who is currently Director of the New York City Opera Children’s Chorus, has sung in both the choir of Saint Thomas Fifth Avenue and the choir of Canterbury Cathedral. He has gained quite a reputation for his choral music, which is rooted in the Anglican choral tradition. The anthem at Communion is Panem de coelo by Rick Austill (b. 1955). Austill, a parishioner of Saint Mary’s, wrote this piece for our choir last year. This piece is of an aleatoric nature, music that incorporates elements of chance into its structure. This means that one performance will be vastly different from another. Austill provides music for each voice part and instructions, but he leaves a lot of room for the conductor and singers to determine how the piece will go.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Friday, May 31, is the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The evening Mass will be sung at 6:00 PM . . . Robert McCormick was guest organist at Saint Paul’s Church, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, on Thursday, May 30, when that parish observed Corpus Christi with Solemn Evensong & Benediction . . . Two more volunteers for 10:00 AM Sunday Mass coffee hour. Bring goodies just once a month. To volunteer, please e-mail Penny Byham at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information call the church office or speak to one of the current volunteers - Janna Weiler, Shoji Mizumoto, or Penny . . . Father Weiler’s class on “Prayers of the Bible” continues on Wednesday, June 5, at 7:00 PM in Saint Benedict’s Study . . . Jennifer Reddall, who was seminarian here during her middle year at the General Theological Seminary, will be ordained deacon on the Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, June 29, at Saint Francis’s Church, Palos Verdes, California . . . Attendance last Sunday 278.
SUMMARY OF THE MAY 20, 2002, BOARD MEETING . . . At its May 20, 2002, meeting, the Board of Trustees: 1. Heard a further report from Mr. Peelen on development plans for the Mission House, which will be vacated by Safe Space on May 31, 2002. 2. Heard a report from Mr. O’Dwyer and the Investment Committee. Our funds declined during the first quarter of the year, because of a weak equities market and because of draw downs from our accounts to meet expenses. To balance the budget, we would need to cut $350,000 from our operating budget for the year, which would require elimination of the music program and of daily Masses, as well as other cuts. 3. Discussed parish staffing. 4. Learned that donations can now be made to St. Mary’s on the Church’s Web site (www.stmvirgin.org). 5. Learned that Dr. Ryan Lesh has been accepted for Postulancy for Holy Orders in the Diocese of New York. He will attend seminary at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, California, beginning in the autumn. 6. Learned that there will be four summer interns from Sewanee who will be assigned to St. Mary’s for six weeks, beginning June 8. They will be housed in the Parish House. In addition, a graduate of Oxford University, recommended by Father Shin, will be staying at St. Mary’s during the summer. Father Weiler will be in charge of these young people. 7. Heard that Miss Linda Bridges, who was elected alternate representative to Diocesan Convention, will attend the meeting in the place of Mr. James Dennis, who will be unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict. Leroy Sharer, Secretary
The Calendar of the Week
Sunday Corpus Christi
Monday The Martyrs of Uganda
Wednesday Boniface, Archbishop & Martyr
Eve of the Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Friday The Sacred Heart No Abstinence
Sung Mass 6:00 PM
Saturday The Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Parish Clergy
The Reverend Stephen Gerth, rector,
The Reverend Matthew Weiler, curate, The Reverend James Ross Smith, assistant,
The Reverend Amilcar Figueroa, The Reverend Rosemari Sullivan, assisting priests,
The Reverend Canon Edgar F. Wells, rector emeritus.