FROM THE RECTOR: EASTER LEARNING
As I worked on my sermons for the Easter Vigil and Easter Day last week I discovered that until the lectionary reforms of the 1970s the gospel lessons for the Sunday of the Resurrection (Vigil—Matthew 28:1-7; Sunday—John 20:1-10; Mark 16:1-8) never included the appearances of the Risen Jesus. There was only an empty tomb, confusion and sadness. It sounds unbelievable, but it’s true.
This is what one misses in John when the whole passage is not read: When Peter and the unnamed disciple whom Jesus loved go home, Mary Magdalene remains. The Risen Jesus reveals his presence to her. She recognizes him when he speaks her name. Jesus sends her to tell her “sisters and brothers” that, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). Then, Mary Magdalene does what Jesus has told her to do. She goes to the disciples and tells them, “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18).
Unlike Lazarus whom Jesus raised, the Risen Jesus was not a corpse bound by linen. There was no corpse; but his raised body was present. That morning he did not reveal his risen presence to Peter and the disciple he loved, but did so only to Mary Magdalene. She becomes Jesus’ messenger of the resurrection —one might say, “apostle,” though John pointedly never uses that term of anyone. This passage is also crucial because the Risen Jesus proclaims that all his disciples are his “sisters and brothers,” that is, children of God (cf. John 1:12).
Even with the 1979 Prayer Book, when the Easter Day gospel is from John, as it was this year, the passage that includes the Risen Jesus is optional. To give credit where credit is due, the new Prayer Book lectionary adopted in 2006 includes the Risen Jesus on Easter Day. It’s worth noting that since 1969 Roman Catholics always hear John on Easter morning but the passage does not include the appearance of the Risen Jesus.
Although I wasn’t aware of this issue, it turns out that it’s been around for a while. Beginning in 1950, the Standing Liturgical Commission of the church published the first in a remarkable series of booklets called Prayer Book Studies. The initial two studies were published together, one on initiation and one on the lectionary. The section on Easter Day begins, “Perhaps the most crucial of all the defects of the present Liturgical Lectionary lies in the provisions for Easter Day. Both of the Gospels now provided convey nothing beyond the purely negative message of the Empty tomb . . . ‘In any future revision of the Prayer Book this defect is entitled to primary attention’” (Prayer Book Studies I: Baptism and Confirmation, II The Liturgical Lectionary  78).
Since we began Saint Mary’s Lectionary Project I have purposefully used the Prayer Book permission to alter the Daily Office lessons so that all of the New Testament is read at Daily Morning and Evening Prayer. We have extended many lessons from the Old Testament, too. My work with the lectionary and my experience of hearing more regularly all of the New Testament and more of the Old Testament has made me increasingly aware of what we hear, and do not hear, on Sunday morning—and to think about the effect of this on the beliefs and practices of the church over time. I’m now just beginning to wonder about how the absence of the stories about the Risen Jesus at Easter has, if you will, shortchanged the whole church for probably 1400 years or more. And I am almost speechless as I write these words.
I do believe in a Risen Jesus. I think our experience of the Sunday of the Resurrection is fundamentally changed when we hear the Good News of the Risen Jesus’ transformed, bodily presence. I invite you to join me in reading all of the final chapters of the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and the final two chapters of John this Easter Season.
I close with this appearance from Luke, “Jesus himself stood among [the women and men]. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:26-29). Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Brian, Charles, Andrew, Darrell, David, Sharon, Sylvia, Kenneth, Rick, Gloria, Jack, Takeem, Linda, Arpene, Hugh, priest, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark and Alex; and for the repose of the souls of Paulette Winn and Joan Lester . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . April 27: 1911 Sophie M.C. Ewer; 1915 William Weyburn; 1916 Stephen Fiske; 1934 Henrietta Williams; 1953 Hugh Mollison Smallwood; 1965 Virgil Evans Pyles; 1994 Frances Flagg.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Joan Lester, the mother of parishioner Darrell Lester, died this week after a long illness. Please keep, Joan, Darrell, their family and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers.
WORDS OF THANKS . . . . So many people make Holy Week possible that it is simply not possible to thank everyone by name or by group. But to all who helped in any way, large or small, please accept through me the thanks from the wider parish community for your work and your love. Happy Easter. S.G.
DIOCESAN CHOIR OPPORTUNITY . . . Individuals are invited to join the massed diocesan choir at ordination of the Reverend Allen Shin as bishop suffragan of New York on Saturday, May 17, at 11:00 AM. Details about the schedule, music and rehearsals are available on the Diocese of New York webpage.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will meet at 9:45 on Sunday, April 27. Church School for the older children will meet at 10:00 AM. The Adult Forum will not meet on April 27 . . . Monday, April 28, Saint Mark the Evangelist (transferred), Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, April 28, at 7:00 PM, after the evening Mass, in the Mission House . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on April 30 at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Thursday, May 1, Saint Philip and Saint James, Mass 12:10 PM & 6:20 PM . . . Annual Meeting of the Parish, Sunday, May 4, 1:00 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Confessions on Saturday, April 26, are by appointment only. On Saturday, May 3, confessions will be heard by Father Jay Smith.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Parishioner Charles Carson is now at home. He hopes to return to work this week . . . Mark Peterson, interim music director and organist has been away from the parish since Monday, April 21. He returns on Monday, April 28. Dr. David Hurd will play the services during his absence . . . Friday, May 2, is the fifth anniversary of the Reverend Rebecca Weiner Tompkins ordination to the diaconate. Congratulations and thanks for your ministry here! . . . Stewardship Campaign: On Easter Day, we received a pledge card, reminding us that our campaign continues. It’s never too late to make a pledge for 2014. If you would like to make a pledge or receive a pledge card, please contact the finance office. We welcome, and need, your support! . . . Attendance: Maundy Thursday 176; Good Friday 277; Easter 684.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . The Adult-Education class will resume on Sunday, May 4, when Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins will begin a three-part series (May 4, 11 & 18), entitled Readings in Poetry Inspired by the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. Please note: there was an error in last week’s newsletter. The class will not meet on April 27. The first session will take place on Sunday, May 4. Rebecca writes, “Perhaps Milton got it right when he wrote, ‘There are no songs comparable to the songs of Zion;/no orations equal to those of the prophets;/and no politics like those which Scriptures teach’; and Ezra Pound, who once said that T.S. Eliot preferred Moses to Muses, certainly had a point. On these three Sundays in Eastertide we will make our way from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century, through and into some prime examples of poems that are clearly in relationship to scriptural passages, the latter always being our starting point” . . . Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) will meet on Sunday, April 27, at 9:45 AM. Church School will meet on April 27, at 10:00 AM, in the Morning Room. Please note: neither CGS nor Church School will meet on Sunday, May 4.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . We are pleased to welcome Dr. David Hurd to the organ bench on Sunday. Dr. Hurd, a well-known recitalist and composer, is currently professor of church music and director of chapel music at the General Theological Seminary, where he has taught since 1976. Dr. Hurd was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Queens, attending both the High School of Music and Art and The Juilliard School before finishing as an organ major at Oberlin College. His principal graduate work was done in organ performance at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Dr. Hurd has been a member of the Standing Committee on Church Music of the Episcopal Church and is the recipient of three honorary doctorates for his contributions to church music. He was awarded the African Diaspora Sacred Music Living Legends Festival Award for 2011 . . . On Sunday morning we hear the Communion Service in F of Harold Edwin Darke (1888-1976). He was born in London and in his lifetime became something of a musical institution in that city. He received his formal training at the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied composition with Charles Villiers Stanford and organ with Walter Parratt. He served as professor of organ at the Royal College of Music from 1919 until 1969. He became organist at St Michael's, Cornhill, in London, in 1916, and served there until 1966, leaving only briefly from 1941 to 1945 to cover for Boris Ord as director of music at King's College, Cambridge during World War II. During his fifty years at Saint Michael's, his weekly organ recitals, which included the complete organ works of Bach, brought him great public renown. In 1919, he founded the Saint Michael's Singers and remained its director until 1966. In that same year, Darke was made commander of the Order of the British Empire. At the ministration of communion the choir will sing Sing to the Lord, ye that are his saints, a motet by Christopher Tye (c. 1505-1572). Trained at Cambridge, Tye is best known for his tenure as master of the choirs of Ely Cathedral and for being the music teacher to Edward VI. He wrote a good deal of choral music, but only a small number of pieces survive. At 4:40 PM on Sunday, April 27, Jacob Reed will play the organ recital. Jacob is an undergraduate at Yale University, where he studies organ with Thomas Murray. His program includes music by J.S. Bach (1685–1750) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). Mark Peterson
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 offers a safe space to help HIV-positive people reduce isolation and shame, learn healthy relationship skills, and get support coping with a variety of challenges. The multi-disciplinary mental health clinic at GMHC assists clients with a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, trauma, identity, alcohol and substance use, compulsive sexual behavior, grief and loss, and relationship/family problems.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Outreach teams from the Common Ground Initiative have been working with those who are homeless, and who have been seeking shelter here at Saint Mary’s, to help the homeless to move off of the streets and into more stable living situations. We heard this week from another of our friends that he had found a living situation with roommates and would not, he hoped, have to sleep on the streets. We are grateful for Common Ground’s assistance . . . 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. James Ross Smith
THEATER AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Royal Family Productions presents the US Premiere of Four Last Things by playwright Lisa Tierney-Keogh, directed by Chris Henry, in the theater on the third floor of the Parish House. The cast includes Tony nominee, Elizabeth A. Davis (Once), Victor Verhaeghe (HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”), and Justin Hagan (Film: Shortbus, Party Monster). The play’s running time is eighty minutes. The performance schedule is a bit unusual: Monday and Tuesday at 7:00 PM; Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 5:30 PM; Sunday at 7:00 PM. There are no performances on Saturday April 26; Monday, April 28; Tuesday, April 29; or Sunday May 11. There is an additional performance on Wednesday, May 14, at 5:30 PM. Tickets are $18.00. For more information and to purchase tickets, you may visit the company’s website.
VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM . . . The work of Steve Pauley is now on view in the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Steve currently lives and works in Brooklyn. He earned his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. He received his BA degree from West Virginia State University and an MA degree from Marshall University. Steve’s work bridges sculpture with photography, printmaking, painting, installation and performance—with innovative skills evolving organically from his work as a headstone carver and a photography teacher. He explores engraving anamorphic images into polished granite, which he then projects onto a wall by reflecting light off the stone’s surface. Most recently, in a continued studio exploration of the proverbial rabbit hole, Steve is shredding and pulping scraps of unwanted paper and creating casts of his relief sculptures. The patterns are of graffiti he transcribes from the streets of Brooklyn into stone slabs.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, April 28, Saint Mark the Evangelist (transferred) . . . 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 . . . Saturday, May 31: The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Said Mass 12:10 PM . . . Sunday, June 8, The Day of Pentecost . . . Sunday, June 15, Trinity Sunday . . . Sunday, June 22, Corpus Christi.