FROM THE RECTOR: APPROACHING HOLY WEEK
While working on the sermon for last Sunday I realized that one of my favorite prayers is not as true to scripture as it probably should be. It’s the prayer we use at Mass at the conclusion of the prayers of the people when there is no confession of sin (during Eastertide and on principal and major feasts). It’s so familiar that I’ve never really given it a second thought—I’ve just enjoyed it. This is the prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, “Peace I give to you; my own peace I leave with you:” Regard not our sins, but the faith of your Church, and give to us the peace and unity of that heavenly City, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, now and for ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer  395)
The problem is the word “apostles.” It’s a problem because the words, “Peace I give to you; my own peace I leave with you,” are based on John 14:27, from the evangelist’s account of the supper before the Passover. Unlike Mark, Matthew and Luke, John never uses the word “apostle” to describe his disciples. The point is theologically significant.
At the supper he tells them they are no longer his “servants, but his “friends” (John 15:15). On Easter morning he calls them “my sisters and brothers” and tells Mary Magdalene to tell them, his male and female disciples, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). In John, all who believe have a personal, direct relationship with God: “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). This gospel knows no person or group possessing any special keys to Jesus’ kingdom.
A few days after coming across the “apostle issue,” I found myself again aware of something I’m sure is probably not right in a prayer. I’m generally a fan of the weekday “proper” for Lent (“proper,” in this sense, refers to the appointed collect and lessons). This is the collect for Saturday in the Second Week of Lent:
Grant, most merciful Lord, to your faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Lesser Feasts and Fasts  43)
While reading this aloud at the Saturday 12:10 Eucharist I realized I knew the text as the “Solemn Prayer over the People” for Ash Wednesday from The Book of Occasional Services . As a collect, it’s missing an important word: us—“Grant, most merciful Lord, to us your faithful people.” The word “us” clearly includes the celebrant in the congregation. I think you and I should try to be aware of the subtle and not-so-subtle clericalism when it occurs in our liturgy—and when possible, to do something about it.
The people of God, the baptized, are the primary sign of Christ’s continuing presence in the world. This isn’t the only theology out there, but I believe it is by far the best starting point for sharing the Word—and for approaching Holy Week. In a sense, I think it is fair to say New Testament scholar Sandra Schneiders summarizes this position very powerfully in her new book:
It is the living Jesus who is really identified with his disciples. The baptized act “in persona Christi” [“in the person of Christ”], not in virtue of ordination, or by permission or delegation, or only when doing sacred actions. The indwelling of Jesus is quite real, and he is more intimate to us than we are to ourselves. It is quite possible for us to be oblivious of this fact and even effectively to nullify its potential for good by our actions. But the reality remains that those who have been laid hold of by Christ are actually changed by his real presence in their being and life. (Jesus Risen in Our Midst  31)
The celebration of Holy Week and Easter Day gives us the opportunity to be keenly aware of how Jesus Christ dwells in us now, and we in him now, and for ever. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sharon, Kathleen, Hugh, Barbara, Ben, David, Rick, Gloria, Jack, Takeem, Linda, Arpene, Hugh, priest, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark, Alex, and Elizabeth . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 6: 1873 Johann Eugen Weber; 1893 James Crosher; 1898 Cecelia Sarah Clark.
THE ORDINARY WEEKDAYS OF LENT are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial. The Fridays of Lent are also observed by abstinence from flesh meats. Abstinence is not observed on Sundays in Lent.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Christian Education for children and adults meets on the regular schedule on Sunday, April 6 . . . Friday, April 4, 6:30 PM, Stations of the Cross . . . Artist’s Talk & Reception, Friday, April 4, 7:00-9:00 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Friends and members of the parish are invited to come and meet Steve Pauley, whose work will be on view beginning this week in the parish gallery . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, April 5, by Father Smith, and on Saturday, April 12, by Father Gerth. Confessions are also heard by appointment.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Last Friday, Father Ryan Fleenor brought a group from his parish, Saint James’ Church, Madison Avenue, to walk Stations of the Cross with us. He tells us that it was a positive and powerful experience for his parishioners. We are happy that they joined us . . . Last Sunday, the chapel choir of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, sang the service and joined us for refreshments afterwards in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The choir, conducted by its director, Richard Latham, sang beautifully. It was an honor and a pleasure to have them with us. It was also good to welcome Richard, who has sung with our choir in the past, back to Saint Mary’s . . . We plan to mail our annual Easter Appeal packet to the friends and members of the parish this week. We invite you to give the appeal your prayerful consideration and to be generous . . . If you are interested in helping to decorate the church for Easter, please speak to Rick Austill, Dexter Baksh, or Marie Rosseels . . . The Narthex Gift Shop is open—and more is to come! If you have questions, please speak to Dexter Baksh, shop manager . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 270.
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We still hope to receive donations to help defray the costs of the special feast-day receptions on Easter Eve (April 19), and Ascension Day (May 29). These receptions are always great events at Saint Mary’s. We have many visitors and the receptions give us an opportunity to welcome our visitors and talk about the parish, its history and its ministries. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office.
AIDS WALK 2014 . . . This year, the Saint Mary’s AIDS Walk Team thinks it’s important that our community knows more about where their donations go. Be sure to check this space every week for a new statistic about the AIDS Walk and the organization that benefits from it, GMHC (“Gay Men’s Health Crisis”). And please donate to our team here! . . . Did you know? GMHC’s Wellness Program offers a wide variety of complimentary therapies and services including: yoga, massage therapy, exercise, ear point acupuncture, painting and sculpture classes, scholarships for non-credited courses at area colleges, free or low-cost theater and movie tickets, a lending library, free haircuts and special events for clients.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . The Fifth Sunday in Lent: Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757) was born in Naples where his father, Alessandro Scarlatti, was the maestro di cappella to the viceroy. Domenico’s musical gifts developed at a prodigious pace, and by the age of sixteen he was a musician of the chapel royal. In time, he and his father left Naples and settled in Rome, where Domenico became the pupil of the most eminent musicians in Italy. He served for five years (1714–1719) as maestro di cappella at the Cappella Giulia in the Vatican. He composed at least one oratorio (1709), and more than a dozen operas. His patrons in Rome included the exiled Polish queen Maria Casimira (1709–14) and the Portuguese ambassador to the Vatican, the Marquis de Fontes, who in 1720 was to succeed in winning Scarlatti for the patriarchal chapel in Lisbon. Scarlatti met Handel in 1708 when they were both twenty-three years of age, and were prevailed upon to compete against each other on the harpsichord and the organ. This experience resulted in great mutual respect which was to form a life-long friendship. In 1715 Scarlatti assumed the post of maestro di cappella at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, but left four years later, fascinated by distant countries and the musical establishments that existed there. The Messa di Madrid that we hear at Solemn Mass on Sunday comes from the later period of his life when he lived in Madrid, Spain. He died there at the age of seventy-one. At the ministration of Holy Communion we hear the motet, Salvator mundi, a great staple of the Anglican repertoire by Englishman, Thomas Tallis (c. 1505–1585). Mark Peterson
A NOTE FROM BISHOP FRANK GRISWOLD . . . “This link to the Philadelphia Theological Institute describes a ten-day pilgrimage to England that I will be leading this summer from July 18 – 28, 2014. I am sending this along with the thought that this might be of interest to some people at Saint Mary’s. Special attention will be paid to George Herbert and to Nicholas Ferrar of Little Gidding - who have been particular spiritual friends of mine since I was a student at Oxford. The group will be limited in size so it does not become too large for easy movement or unwieldy in the intimate spaces of some of the churches we will visit.”
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Christian Education on Sunday, April 6: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will take place in the Atrium at 9:45 AM; Church School for the older children will meet with Peter Secor at 10:00 AM in the Morning Room . . . The Adult Forum will meet at 10:00 AM on the second floor of the Mission House. Father Peter Powell continues his series on the Book of Exodus. Please note: The Adult Forum will meet on Palm Sunday, April 13, at 10:00 AM . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet in Saint Joseph’s Hall, on April 9, at 6:30 PM.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Sunday, April 13, Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday . . . The Triduum: April 17, Maundy Thursday; April 18, Good Friday; April 19, The Great Vigil of Easter; April 20, Easter Day . . . Saturday, May 17, Consecration of Suffragan Bishop-Elect Allen Shin . . . Sunday, May 18, AIDS Walk 2014 . . . Thursday, May 29, Ascension Day, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, Bishop Allen Shin, celebrant and preacher.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . . The weather is beginning to warm, but donations of warm clothing, as well as new, unopened packets of underwear and socks, especially white cotton socks are still needed. We also welcome donations of: hand sanitizer; granola bars; applesauce, sold in small, plastic cups with peel-off tops; water; peanut butter and crackers; and other small items that can be packed in bags for distribution to those who are homeless . . . The Holy Cross School and its Scholarship Fund at Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery, Grahamstown, South Africa, a house of the Anglican Order of the Holy Cross. Donations may be made c/o Brother Robert Sevensky, OHC, Superior, Holy Cross Monastery, PO Box 99, West Park, NY 12493. When making a donation, it would be helpful if you could let the brothers know that you heard about the school through Saint Mary’s . . . The Book Sale continues on Sunday. All proceeds benefit those in need. Thank you to all those who have donated books for the sale. Your generosity is very much appreciated . . . The New York City Coalition Against Hunger’s website is a valuable resource for learning more about hunger and homelessness in the City of New York. James Ross Smith
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Saint Marians may recall the work of Beatriz Elorza, which was exhibited last year in the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Her work in that show drew the attention of a gallery here in Manhattan. Beatriz’s work is now on view at the Spanierman Modern Gallery, 625 West Fifty-fifth Street, New York City. The exhibit is entitled “Breathing Color” and continues until April 23. For more information, please visit the gallery’s website. Beatriz is a talented artist and a lovely person. We wish her continued success . . . At the Church of Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, 263 West Eighty-sixth Street at West End Avenue, Easter Mysteries: A Contemporary Oratorio about Death and Resurrection, music, book, and lyrics by John O’Boyle. April 11 & 12 at 8:00 PM, April 13 at 7:00 PM. Performances benefit The West Side Campaign Against Hunger. There is more information online . . . At the Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park, New York City: Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral, February 25–May 18, 2014. There is more information about the exhibition on the museum’s website.