FROM THE RECTOR: CROWDS OF DISCIPLES
Last week I was working on the lectern texts we use for the readings for weekday Eucharists and I realized again the importance of us carefully reviewing and editing the readings we use during worship.
The materials published by the church for Sunday and Holy Days are for the most part very good—although I won’t forget discovering in the middle of Solemn Mass last January that the Book of Gospels  contains a significant mistake. (The editorial introduction for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany there is, “The day after John had baptized Jesus . . . ”—in John’s gospel Jesus is not baptized by John, a theologically significant point for John.) There are no published materials for the “Weekday Eucharistic Lectionary,” and the church no longer publishes the texts for lesser feasts. The published lectionary texts for Daily Morning and Evening Prayer are designed for personal, not lectern use. That said, it’s worth noting the reality that there’s not, and probably never has been, as much daily public worship in the Episcopal Church as the Prayer Book has always imagined that there would be.
The Anglican tradition has been that the lessons at Daily Morning and Evening Prayer would be read from a large lectern Bible. Until the 1979 Prayer Book, the epistles and gospels for Eucharists on Sundays and Holy Days were printed in the Prayer Book. The 1979 lectionary, which emerged in the 1960s and 1970s with wide ecumenical acceptance among Anglicans, Lutherans and Roman Catholics, meant that it would no longer be practical to include the these lessons for two reasons: first, length; second, many more translations of the Bible were now authorized for use (Charles P. Price, Introducing the Draft Proposed Book, Prayer Book Studies 29  21–22).
Our answer, beginning in the summer of 2002, was what we’ve come to call, “Saint Mary’s Lectionary Project.” The lessons for all Offices and Masses have been edited and formatted for use at the lectern. The project required an enormous commitment in the first years, a great deal of the work being done by Father Matthew Mead when he was curate. That said, we are still finding opportunities to make these materials more useful.
While checking the lessons for the weekday Eucharists in early September, I found the gospel lessons as edited (as copied from the generally useful Roman Catholic Church edition) give the impression that some of Jesus’ teachings from Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:17–49) were given only to the twelve. Instead, they are all given to “crowds of disciples,” including the twelve. The first words of these lessons have now been edited to make clear that here in Luke, Jesus was speaking to many disciples.
I’ve mentioned before the blog of the Reverend Dr. D. Mark Davis, pastor, St. Mark Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, California. It’s called, “Left Behind and Loving It”—a reference to the belief some Christians have that God will take up his “elect” before the tribulations at the end of time. I like his title, and I like his subtitle even more, “Living as if God’s steadfast love really does endure forever”—it’s from a verse in the First Book of the Chronicles, “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever” (1 Chronicles 16:34).
I think it’s fair to imagine that the man born blind and a very few others never lost faith in Jesus. But at some point everyone else, even the disciple Jesus loved, who along with Jesus’ mother received the Spirit at the foot of cross in John, did not understand, did not believe. I think the Lord’s love for all continues, even when we are for a moment or many moments in our lives walking away from Jesus Christ in our thoughts, our words and our deeds.
I think it’s always important to remember, despite the use that has been made of “The Twelve” and “The Apostles” through the centuries, that by the time the gospels were written, the names of the original twelve and other apostles were not really remembered—the various lists in the New Testament do not agree with one another. In the end, Jesus is always more about the crowds. And as much as he makes use of any of us, it is his Spirit that does the work that really matters: giving us life in this world and eternal life in the world to come.—Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Suzanne, Reha, Rebecca, Burt, John, McNeil, David, Takeem, Sylvia, Rick, Jack, Linda, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . July 27: 1884 Charles Stewart Bachman; 1887 Eulalie Louisa Burke; 1921 Randall Cooke Hall; 1944 Edwin Robert Maslen; 1947 Emily Hinkle; 1965 Edgar Shreenan.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR . . . are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, July 26, and on Saturday, August 2, by Father Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The monthly parish liturgical calendars for 2015, which list all of the commemorations and daily services through the year, have been posted on the parish web page . . . Flowers are needed for Sundays in August, including the Feast of the Assumption on August 15. If you would like to donate for a Sunday, please be in touch with Aaron Koch in the parish office . . . Sister Deborah Francis continues on her vacation through Monday, August 3. She returns to the parish on Tuesday, August 5 . . . Mark Peterson returns to the parish from vacation on Monday, July 28 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 182.
CONGRATULATIONS, FATHER SIBLEY . . . Christ Church, Manhasset, has called the Reverend David Sibley to be their new rector. He begins his work there in September. David has been an assisting priest (and regular weekday celebrant) since 2012. He will be missed for many reasons, including his energy and his joyful countenance. I am glad he will not be far away in his new assignment. S.G.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958) had an abiding interest in church music, especially hymns. This is perhaps hard to reconcile with the fact that he called himself a “hopeful agnostic.” He was the son of an Anglican clergyman and had no allegiance to any church. He arranged and harmonized many tunes. Vaughan Williams worked with the Reverend Percy Dearmer in editing English Hymnal (1904, 1906). He composed quite a number of other hymns, “filling in the gaps” as he put it, when he couldn’t successfully wed a text to an existing melody. His tune that is called in our hymnal tradition King’s Weston is one outstanding example. He wrote it for use with the text “At the Name of Jesus” by Caroline Maria Noel (1817–1877) for Songs of Praise (1925).
We welcome again on Sunday Dr. David Hurd as guest organist, who with his considerable improvisational facilities will render his own interpretation of Bourbon, our dismissal hymn for the morning, as the postlude. His prelude, one of Bach’s best settings of the great Lutheran chorale, Adorn thyself, O dear soul, sets the stage for everything that follows, textually and emotionally. At the ministration of Communion, mezzo-soprano Jann Degnan, will sing one of the solo works of Henry Purcell (c. 1659–1695), as realized by Benjamin Britten (1913–1976), to the poetry of Nathaniel Ingelo (c. 1621–1683), an Anglican priest and compatriot of Sir Thomas More.—Mark Peterson
OUTREACH . . . We 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 . . . We continue to collect nonperishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please place your donations in the basket near the ushers’ table on Sunday mornings. You may also make cash donations.