FROM THE RECTOR: SERMON ON THE MOUNT
We missed the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount on Sunday, February 2, because the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord took precedence. Our Sunday gospels will continue to be from this sermon until the Sunday before Lent when the gospel is the account of Jesus’ transfiguration. The Sermon on the Mount is the longest of five speeches Jesus gives in Matthew. It begins famously, “Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 5:1).
The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of Jesus’ teaching. It is enormously important and many of its verses are among the most well-known and oft-quoted passages of the New Testament. But while working on my sermon for the Sunday before February 2 with Ulrich Luz’s Matthew 1-7: A Commentary (2007), I realized I had never paid attention to the reason why the crowds were there. (Luz did; see page 165.)
The gospel for that Sunday ends at Matthew 4:23: “And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.” The next two verses—which are never read when we hear the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount at Mass—tell us why the crowds were there: “So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decap'olis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan” (Matthew 4:24-25).
In John’s gospel the crowds follow Jesus to the other side of the Sea of Galilee “because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased” (John 6:2b). But miracles of healing is not the only thing Jesus wants to do. Jesus feeds them when they are hungry.
Not surprisingly, the crowd wants to make Jesus their king. He responds by fleeing to a mountain but he doesn’t stay there. He and his disciples end up on the other side of the sea, the disciples in a boat where Jesus had joined them. When the people realize they had gone, they get into boats to follow them.
When they get to Capernaum, they want to know why Jesus left. Jesus responds that they followed him not because he had healed the sick, but because he had fed them. Jesus tells them, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you” (John 6:27).
Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef-owner of Prune here in New York. I’m about half-way through her memoir Blood, Bones & Butter (2011). She was the child of privileged, but not well-heeled, parents. She seems to have taken the best of what rearing she had and used it.
She writes about many things, including her very real experience of hunger. She did a cook’s tour from Europe to the Far East with almost no money. With no credit card and afraid of using up all she had, she went hungry many times and for many days as she traveled between destinations by the cheapest transportation available. For herself, she thinks her hunger prepared her to own and run a restaurant as much as anything else. One observation has stuck with me: “My hunger grew so specific I could name every corner and fold of it. Salty, warm, brothy, starchy, fatty, sweet, clean and crunchy, crisp and watery, and so on” (129).
As we journey through the Sermon on the Mount on the rest of the Sundays in February, I know there will be opportunities to think about Jesus’ words and their power. I invite you to think about the hunger that brings us to Christ. In John’s gospel, Jesus himself is the bread that nurtures and sustains us in eternal life. I think Matthew would agree. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sharon, Gloria, Dick, Richmond, Gypsy, Rick, Jack, Velvia, Michael, Heather, Eugene, Susan, William, Rob, Takeem, Linda, Eloise, Arpene, Margaretta, religious, Paulette, priest, Clair, priest, and Harry, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark, Alex, and Elizabeth; and for the repose of the soul of Kenneth Lloyd Arnold, deacon . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . February 9: 1903 Wanda Marguerite Goodrich; 1904 Etta Dinning; 1964 John Louis Scholz; 1970 Percy Gould Rigby.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . The Reverend Kenneth Lloyd Arnold died last week in Portland, Oregon, after a long illness. He was sixty-nine years old. He was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Richard Grein in May 1998 and served here at Saint Mary’s in 1998 and then at the Saint Clement’s Church until 2001. He moved to Boston in 2001 to be director of communications for the diocese of Massachusetts. He returned to New York in 2003 to be publisher of Church Publishing Corporation until 2007. In retirement he and his wife lived in Portland, Oregon where he was active in Saint Stephen’s Church. Please keep Deacon Arnold’s family, friends and all who mourn in your prayers.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2014 . . . Our Stewardship Campaign continues! We have reached just short of 90% of our financial goal of $450,000. We invite you to support the mission and ministry of Saint Mary’s. Please help us to keep our doors open. If you haven’t made a pledge for 2014, we encourage you to do so (no pledge is too small and it is never too late to make a pledge!). If you have made a pledge for 2014, we thank you. If you would like to receive a pledge card, please contact the finance office. If you have questions about pledging, we invite you to contact a member of the Stewardship Committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels, or speak to Father Gerth, Father Smith, or Father Powell. Jay Smith
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will meet with Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins on Sunday, February 9; Church School for the older children will also meet with Peter Secor this coming Sunday at 10:00 AM in the Morning Room. The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday at 10:00 AM in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. The class will be led by Dennis Raverty . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on February 12 at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, February 8, by Father Jim Pace, and on Saturday, February 15, by Father Stephen Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Thank you to all those who helped to make our annual Super Bowl Party such a great success. A good time was had by all, even by the fans of the Denver Broncos . . . We hope to receive donations for altar flowers for the following Sundays: February 23 and March 2. We also hope to receive donations to defray the costs of the reception on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish Saturday, February 9, through Tuesday, February 11. He returns to the office on Wednesday, February 12 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 321.
AN ANNIVERSARY . . . This week, the Community of Saint John Baptist celebrates the 140th anniversary of their arrival in the United States. We give thanks for their ministry here at Saint Mary’s, and to the Episcopal Church. Please keep Sister Laura Katharine, Sister Deborah Francis, and their community in your prayers.
CONFIRMATION & RECEPTION . . . If you would like to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church, please speak to Father Jay Smith. We hope that a bishop will be with us at the Solemn Mass on Ascension Day, Thursday, May 29, at 6:00 PM. This would be a wonderful day, and a wonderful opportunity, to be confirmed or received.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . The wonders of the human voice and the inspired compositions that have subsequently been created find a central place in the Solemn Mass for this Sunday. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), the renowned Austrian composer, was among the greatest and most prolific composers in history. A child prodigy, Mozart wrote more than 600 works including 41 symphonies, 27 piano concertos, 16 operas, 19 piano sonatas, and other chamber works. Made famous for his marvelously original operas, Mozart also wrote two dozen concert arias, often with full orchestral accompaniment, and some of his most daring scores are included in this collection of works. These virtuosic and technically demanding scores were often written as tributes to singers whom Mozart most admired, and in some cases were challenges to put these singers to the test. Written throughout the scope of his life, these works parallel the Masses that Mozart wrote (in nearly equal number), and it’s his Missa brevis in G, KV 140, that we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning. Ned Rorem (b. 1923) is one of this county’s most prolific composers, writing for nearly every genre, but it is the art song that most completely captured his imagination. Having written more than 400 songs to date, Rorem also wrote numerous motets which, though simple in construction, are rich in melodic and harmonic content. The transparency of the work we hear at the ministration of Holy Communion on Sunday, is achieved by giving each voice part its own independent line, the combination of which makes for brilliant effect. Prayer to Jesus, a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, was composed in 1973 . . . On Sunday, February 9, at 4:40 PM, the organ recital will be played by Mary Copeley. Her program includes works by Louis Vierne (1870–1937) and Pierre Cochereau (b. 1924). Mark Peterson
PLEASE WELCOME OUR GUEST CHOIRS . . . A number of choirs from parishes in the metropolitan area—and from England—will be joining us on Sunday evenings in the next few months for Evensong and Benediction. On Sunday, February 16, the parish choir of Christ Church, Riverdale, will be with us; on Sunday, February 23, the parish choir of Saint Luke’s, Darien, Connecticut, will sing the service; and, on March 2, the Choristers of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, New York City will join us at Evensong. Except during Lent, Evensong is preceded by an organ recital at 4:40 PM. The service itself begins at 5:00 PM. Refreshments are served in Saint Joseph’s Hall following Evensong from 6:00-6:30 PM. We invite you to join us.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Christian Education on Sunday, February 9: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will take place in the Atrium; Church School for the older children will meet with Peter Secor at 10:00 AM in the Morning Room . . . The Adult Forum will meet on the second floor of the Mission House. Dr. Dennis Raverty will lead the class (see below for more detail) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, February 12. The class will begin reading at chapter 16: Paul is joined by Timothy; they travel to Troas and then to Macedonia; the first of the so-called “we sections” in Acts. Jay Smith
ART & SPIRITUALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . This Sunday, February 9, Dennis Raverty continues his two-part series, Surrealism & the School of Paris between the Wars: The Artist as Mediumistic Being. Dr. Raverty, a professor of art history at New Jersey City University, writes, “The radical stylistic innovations of early twentieth-century European painters has led most of us to the original mystical intentions of the artists themselves. This two-part series aims at restoring this transcendent dimension to their work. As explorers of interior psychological realms, these self-designated prophets and visionaries were a poignant ‘voice crying in the wilderness’ amid the madness and carnage of the first half of the century with its wars, dictatorships and death camps.”
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, February 17, Washington’s Birthday (also known as “Presidents’ Day”), Federal Holiday schedule . . . March 5, Ash Wednesday . . . Fridays in Lent, Stations of the Cross 6:30 PM . . . Monday, March 24, Eve of the Annunciation, Solemn Evensong 6:00 PM . . . Tuesday, March 25, The Annunciation, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The New York City Coalition Against Hunger is in the midst of its Annual Appeal for donations. Please visit the Coalition’s website for more information or to make a donation . . . 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. J.R.S.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Christoph Keller, Jr., Library of General Theological Seminary, 440 West 21st Street (between Ninth and Tenth Avenues), February 6-27, 2014: Religious Iconography of the 19th and 20th Centuries. The exhibition consists of twenty-two icons and a number of smaller pieces selected from a private collection previously owned by Father J. Robert Wright, who taught church history at the seminary for many years. The religious icons and articles come from Russian, Greek, Serbian, Palestinian, and Ethiopian traditions, and the exhibition celebrates faith and tradition, artfully expressed in painting, textile and silver-work of the Orthodox churches . . . At the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway at 61st Street, “Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography (through February 14) is a video and audio installation which will transport the viewer and listener into America’s early twentieth-century, to the banks of rivers, lakes, and ponds where congregations gathered and sang as candidates holding hands in waist-deep water were submerged by a minister for baptism. The excitement and serenity of immersion baptism is seen in the projected images that date from 1890-1950. Recordings of artists like Washington Phillips, Carter Family, Tennessee Mountaineers, and lesser-known groups like the Belmont Silvertone Jubilee Singers, a vocal quartet in 1939, are featured. Rare vocal recordings of sermons and preaching, which highlight the fervor leading up to the moment of baptism, are also included.