FROM THE RECTOR: HIS KINGDOM IS FOR EVER
The Prayer Book lectionary’s three-year cycle takes lessons from Matthew, John and Luke for the last Sunday of the church year, commonly called, “Christ the King.” This is the third year of the cycle. On Sunday we hear from Luke’s gospel the dialogue among Jesus and the two criminals with whom he is crucified. Next year we will hear the Great Judgment from Matthew, and the following year John’s account of Pilate saying to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Like Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi, the celebration of the kingship of Christ is thematic, not a celebration of an event in Christ’s life. Christmas, for example, celebrates the birth of Christ—and we have two gospel accounts of that event. The original 1979 Lectionary actually offers two gospel choices in the years that John and Luke are read. Instead of the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate about Jesus’ kingship, one may read Mark’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Instead of Luke’s dialogue from the cross, one may read Luke’s account of Palm Sunday.
(It’s hard to imagine a sermon on a palm gospel on what is commonly called “Palm Sunday.” It’s really the Sunday of the Passion—so a gospel about Jesus’ triumphal entry is not an entirely unattractive option for a preacher on Christ the King.)
In previous Prayer Books, the last Sunday of the church year was simply, “The Sunday before Advent”—the church already had a number of festivals associated with the kingship of Christ: Christmas, Epiphany, and Ascension. The gospel was John’s account of the feeding of the five thousand. The collect for this Sunday, now used in part on the Third Sunday of Advent, heralded the new church year:
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer  225])
Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in 1925—when bishops of Rome still considered themselves prisoners in the Vatican. He fixed the celebration on the last Sunday of October with the gospel from John, “My kingship is not of this world.” During the revision of the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church in the late 1960s the festival was moved to the final Sunday of the church year. That was a very good, serendipitous idea. Its association with papalism has receded and the commemoration has been widely adopted by other denominations. (One notes that the phrase “Christ the King” makes its first appearance in a Prayer Book in the text of the 2006 revision of the lectionary.)
There is tremendous spiritual truth and power in the hymns inspired by the kingship of Christ. On Holy Cross Day, September 14, 2001, the fires set by the terrorists at the World Trade Center were still burning—and though we did not know it at the time they would burn for 100 days. At the Sung and Solemn Masses that day we turned to one of the most powerful hymnic expressions of Christ’s kingship, Martin Luther’s “A mighty fortress is our God.” I quote only the final half-verse:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is for ever.
This Sunday’s gospel proclaims that as Christ was dying on the cross he was still the Lord of all. Jesus said to the criminal who asked him to remember him when Jesus came into his kingdom, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Which reminds us that the greatest celebration of Christ’s kingship is Easter Day. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sumaya, John, Dick, Sharon, Rick, Donn, Billie, Edwin, Pierre, David, Takeem, Rob, Linda, Babak, Jathon, Mary, Casey, Eloise, Arpene, John, priest, and Paulette, priest. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 24: 1892 Frederick Cuppers; 1924 Werner Munroe; 1940 Raymond Victor Nold; 1950 Frances J. Nash, Harlan S. Perrigo; 1957 Frederick Delius Grise; 1961 Gloria Pugley Rankin; 1989 Aurora Van Heyningen.
FRIDAY ABSTINENCE . . . The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2013-2014 . . . As of November 20, we have received pledge cards from seventy-three households. We still have quite a ways to go: $239,836.00 has been pledged to date, 53% of our goal of $450,000.00. We have received twelve pledges from households that have never pledged before, or that have not been able to make a pledge in recent years. Sixteen households have been able to increase their pledges this year. We urge all the members and friends of Saint Mary’s to return their pledge cards as soon as possible. We continue to ask that you prayerfully consider this year’s appeal and to be generous. Commitment Sunday is this coming Sunday, November 24, the Feast of Christ the King. If you did not receive a pledge packet, but would like to receive one, please contact the parish office. Thank you to all who continue to support Saint Mary’s so generously.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Adult Forum, Sunday, November 24, 10:00 AM, Mission House, 2nd Floor, Mother Mary Julia Jett discusses the work of Archbishop Michael Ramsey (1904–88) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on November 27 . . . The Eve of Thanksgiving Day, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Thanksgiving Day, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM and Mass 12:10 PM. The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM . . . Saturday, November 30, is the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle. Mass will be said at 12:10 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, November 23, by Mother Mary Julia Jett. Confessions will be heard on Saturday, November 30, by Father Jim Pace.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . If you would like to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church, please speak to a member of the clergy. Bishop Dietsche will be with us on Monday, December 9, at 6:00 PM . . . “The Morning Room” is now ready for use. It is located between the nursery and the sacristy—opposite the “Smoke Room.” On Sundays at 10:00 AM the church school for older children will meet here. The room is also used for spiritual direction and other small gatherings . . . Donations are requested: for altar flowers for Sundays in January; we also hope to receive donations to help defray the costs of the reception after the Solemn Mass on the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Monday, December 9 (transferred). If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office . . . Father Jay Smith will have hernia repair surgery on Friday, November 22. He expects to be away from the office until Saturday, November 30. He returns to the parish on December 1 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 207.
THE PATRONAL FEAST . . . This year our patronal feast, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is celebrated on Monday, December 9. The first services in our first church building at 227 West 45th Street were celebrated on December 8, 1870; the first services in our present church home were on December 8, 1895. (The celebration is always transferred to Monday when December 8 is a Sunday.) This year our new bishop, the Right Reverend Andrew M.L. Dietsche, makes his first visitation of the parish at the Solemn Pontifical Mass at 6:00 PM. As always, it will be glorious—and very special. We hope many from our local and wider community will be able to be with us.
As is our custom on greater weekday festivals, this is the schedule for the day: Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, and Sung Mass 12:00 PM. Mark Peterson, interim music director and organist, will play the recital at 5:30 PM. Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM. A reception follows the evening Mass in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) was an Italian composer, violinist, and singer considered a pivotal figure in the history of music. Several texts claim that his work bridged the “old practice” and the “new practice” and thus enabled the transition from Renaissance to Baroque music. Many musicologists would go further and maintain that he was, in fact, the first “modernist.” During his long life, he produced eight books of madrigals and forty operas, which can be classified in both old and new categories, and he was well versed in both. Far less attention is given his Masses, motets, and sacred work, but these also show evidence of true genius, and the Mass we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday, the Messa a quattro voci, has never gone out of print since it was first published.
Monteverdi took opera from the hands of the Florentine “camerata” and introduced the Baroque method of declamation with continuo accompaniment. At a time when the world had yet to build an opera house, he penned La Favola d'Orfeo, still considered the earliest dramatically viable opera. Fortunate enough to enjoy fame during his lifetime, Monteverdi’s personal life was marked by the tragic loss of both his mother and his wife at young ages. His two sons entered the “professions” (one a physician, the other a lawyer), yet both are listed in the roll of singers at the Basilica of San Marco in Venice under their father’s direction. Monteverdi was involved in a bit of controversy when it was discovered by the Vatican that he was being paid considerably more than the Kapellmeister of the Sistine Chapel.
At the ministration of Holy Communion we hear a motet from another musical giant, Henry Purcell (1659–1695), who is thought to be the only legitimate composer of English opera until modern times, and the leader of the Baroque era in England. Having been a chorister of the Chapel Royal from an early age, Purcell became a member of the Chapel Royal as composer-in-ordinary in 1670, and in 1679 he succeeded John Blow as organist at the abbey. His motet, O God, the King of Glory, shows a masterful construction while demonstrating his genius at setting English text. Mark Peterson
Advent Quiet Day . . . Saturday, December 14, 9:30-3:00 PM, “My Soul Magnifies the Lord: Praying the Anglican Rosary” will be led by Father Jim Pace. Father Pace is an assisting priest here at Saint Mary’s. He is the associate dean for Undergraduate Programs at New York University’s College of Nursing. In addition to his work in the medical field, Father Pace has extensive experience in parochial ministry, hospice care, and in the area of pastoral counseling.
On December 14, we will gather at 9:30 AM. Coffee and pastries will be served. The first address will begin at 10:00 AM. We will attend the noonday services, including Mass, and then lunch will be served in Saint Joseph’s Hall. There will be time for quiet reflection in the church, the chapels, and in Saint Joseph’s Hall throughout the day. (We are of course hoping for a quiet day on 46th Street. Our neighborhood can sometimes become noisy in surprising and unexpected ways!) If you plan to attend, please RSVP by December 10, so we can make plans for lunch. If you have dietary restrictions, please let us know. A donation of $10 to defray the costs of breakfast and lunch will be gratefully accepted.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will not meet on November 27. The class, which is led by Father Jay Smith, will resume on December 4, at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The class is reading the Acts of the Apostles this year. All are welcome. No prior experience is necessary. On December 4, the class will begin its discussion at Acts 9, with the conversion of Saint Paul . . . We regret that Father John Andrew will not be able to join us on Sunday, November 24 to give his talk in the Adult Forum on Archbishop Michael Ramsey. We are grateful that Mother Mary Julia Jett has agreed to step in and lead the discussion of some of Archbishop Ramsey’s written work. The class will meet at 10:00 AM on the second floor of the Mission House. Michael Ramsey was Archbishop of Canterbury between 1961 and 1974, a time of significant ferment and change in both church and society. He was one of the most influential Anglican thinkers and leaders of the twentieth century. Ramsey taught theology at both Durham and Cambridge before becoming Bishop of Durham in 1952. He wrote a number of theological works and Mother Jett will discuss some of those works in the context of his life and career . . . The Adult Forum will not meet on Sunday, December 1. On Sunday, December 8, parishioner Brendon Hunter will lead the discussion in our ongoing Faith & Work Series. Brendon is Assistant Program Director for Leadership Resources at the Foundation . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Christian education for young children, continues on Sunday, November 24, at 9:45 AM, in the Atrium on the second floor of the Parish House. For more information, please speak to Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins . . . Church School: The older children will meet with seminarian Peter Secor in the Morning Room on Sunday, November 24, at 10:00 AM.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Donations to Episcopal Relief and Development may be directed to the relief effort in the Philippines . . . We are gratefully accepting donations of warm clothing, as well as new, unopened packets of underwear and socks, especially white cotton socks. We send some items of clothing to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Other items are kept here for distribution to those in need. We also continue to collect non-perishable food items and cash donations for the Food Pantry.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, Chagall: Love, War, and Exile, September 15, 2013–February 2, 2014. This exhibition “explores a significant but neglected period in [Chagall’s] career from the rise of fascism in the 1930s through 1948, years spent in Paris and then in exile to New York. Marc Chagall (1887–1985), one of the foremost modernists of the 20th century, created his unique style by drawing on elements from richly colored folk art motifs, the Russian Christian icon tradition, Cubism, and Surrealism . . . Saint Joseph’s Roman Catholic Seminary and Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary present Magnificat: Hymns to the Mother of God from East & West. An Evening of Sacred Song, Monday, November 25, 2013, 7:30 PM, at the Church of Saint Jean Baptiste, 184 East 76th Street. Tickets are $25.00 and can be ordered online . . . At The Cloisters, September 10–December 8, 2013, Fort Tryon Park, New York City: The Forty-Part Motet (2001), a sound installation by Janet Cardiff.