FROM THE RECTOR: REDEEMING A WORD
The First Book of the Kings begins with an aged King David. Because he is old, a young maiden is chosen to sleep with him to keep him warm. The text says, “The maiden was very beautiful; and she became the king’s nurse and ministered to him; but the king knew her not” (1 Kings 1:4). The Second Book of the Kings concludes with the last king of Judah, Jehoiachin, in exile with his people in Babylon. At the Daily Office, as the readings near the end of this history, the readings turn also to the great prophet of that era, Jeremiah.
Jeremiah is the prophet who foresees the destruction of Jerusalem. His book is another record, where the faithfulness of kings and their people to Yahweh is the exception, not the rule, in his lifetime. His life as a prophet was not an easy one. For his faithfulness to Yahweh he was imprisoned; he was lucky to escape with his life. On Sunday at Evensong we will hear from the account in Second Kings of the burning of the temple, the king’s house, and all of the houses of Jerusalem—and of the pulling down of the city’s walls (2 Kings 25:9–10). Jeremiah survived the destruction. Unlike the greater part of the population, he was not taken into exile (Jeremiah 40:1–6).
Jeremiah chooses then to live at “Mizpah,” a place that first appears in the biblical narrative in the story of Jacob. There, when Jacob finally flees from his father-in-law Laban, he takes his two wives, sisters who are Laban’s daughters—and his first cousins, along with all of his livestock and property. Laban finds him, and he finally surrenders to their departure. Laban and Jacob manage to set up a pillar of stones, that is, “Mizpah,” Hebrew for “pillar of witness.” Laban tells Jacob, “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other. If you ill-treat my daughters, or if you take wives in addition to my daughters, though no one else is with us, remember that God is witness between you and me” (Genesis 31:43–50).
“Mizpah” is a sign that God is watching what we do, even when no one is around, to keep those who are watched honest—and the family of Laban, Jacob, Leah, and Rachel is far from honest with one another. But, thankfully Mizpah has also come to be a word of prayer between two people who have love for each other, a prayer that God is caring for the other while the two are apart, a word redeemed by leaving its past behind.
You and I are people of faith. Even in times when our faith seems to us weak and unclear, we remain people of faith. It’s how God created humankind. We were all born in and driven out of a garden. By grace we continue on the journey of life, destined for a city, a heavenly one, prepared for us by God. Humankind itself, for all of its sins, we believe, is the great sign that God is watching over those we love. Mizpah—I’ve liked the word since I learned it sometime in my Southern Baptist childhood. If you and I look around, there are many signs of God’s continuing love and care for humankind, even in anxious times, times like our own.—Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR George, David, Robert, Thomas, Lisa, Mazdak, Babak, Barbara, Pauline, Suzanne, John, McNeil, Takeem, Sylvia, Rick, Jack, Paula, Willie, Linda, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Harry, priest; for the General Theological Seminary; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . October 19: 1879 William Henry Francis; 1891 Alexander Curtis LaNauze; 1912 Arthur Alexander Campbell; 1993 Jerome Terrell.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR . . . are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
FROM FATHER SMITH: STEWARDSHIP 2015 . . . Stewardship packets were mailed on Wednesday, October 15. Pledge cards may be placed in the offering baskets at Mass or returned by mail to the parish office. If you would like to receive a pledge card, or if you have questions about stewardship, please speak with me or with one of the members of the committee, MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels. Any of us would be glad to answer any questions you might have.—Jay Smith
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, October 18, Saint Luke the Evangelist, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Wednesday, October 22, Bible Study Class: Saint Joseph’s Hall, 6:30 PM . . . Thursday, October 23, Saint James of Jerusalem: Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, October 18, by Father Jay Smith, and on Saturday, October 25, by Father Stephen Gerth.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Annual All Souls’ Day Appeal will be mailed this week. The Parish Requiem Masses will be said on November 4, 5, 6, and 8. Prayer-request forms and return envelopes will also be on the ushers’ table on Sunday morning. The completed forms and offering envelopes may be placed in the collection baskets . . . If you would like to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church this year, or if you or somebody you know is thinking about being baptized, please speak to Father Gerth or Father Smith . . . Flowers are needed for November 9, 16, and 23. We would also be pleased to receive donations to defray the costs of the receptions on October 31 and December 8. Please contact the finance office if you would like to make a donation . . . Father Gerth will be away from the parish for a week of vacation from Friday, October 17, until Friday, October 24. He returns to the parish on Saturday, October 25 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 267.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION & SPIRITUALITY . . . Sunday, October 19 & 26, 10:00 AM, Mission House, Second Floor: “For All the Saints”—The Origins & History of the Veneration of the Saints. On October 19 the class will be led by Grace Bruni, who will be talking about Saint Thomas Becket and Canterbury as a pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class continues on October 22 at 6:30 PM. The class, which is led by Father Jay Smith, is normally held in Saint Joseph’s Hall, 145 West 46th Street. This week we will be reading Isaiah 1–2 . . . Sunday, November 2, 9, 16 & 23, 10:00 AM, Mission House, Second Floor: The Gospel According to John, led by Father Pete Powell. Father Powell writes, “This gospel is valuable because it differs so completely from Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is also difficult because it differs so completely from Matthew, Mark and Luke. The value and the problems of John will be part of our discussion on these four Sundays in November and on all of the Sundays in Lent. John has a unique and important understanding of who Jesus Christ was and is. Much of what we assume we know about Christ is derived from John. In addition, it is the most sacramental of the Gospels, and yet it never records the institution of either Baptism or the Eucharist. This will be a provocative and iconoclastic look at John. The goal of this series of classes is to deepen our faith as we learn to appreciate and understand The Fourth Gospel.”—J.R.S.
OUTREACH . . . Mother Yamily Bass-Choate is the vicar of the Church of San Andres in Yonkers, NY. She is a good friend of Saint Mary’s. Every year her parish’s Food Pantry holds a Thanksgiving Turkey Drive to help purchase turkeys for the many families who depend on the Pantry’s assistance each week. Last year San Andres was able to provide over 200 turkeys to the hard-working families of the Yonkers community with the help of parishes like Saint Mary’s. Once again this year, the parish will be making a donation to San Andres for this outreach effort. If you would like to make a donation yourself, please send a check to: San Andres Episcopal Church, 22 Post Street, Yonkers, NY 10705. $20.00 purchases a turkey for a single household . . . The spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia and in other parts of West Africa has been rapid in recent months, and, according to recent news reports, the numbers of those affected continues to mount. We have received requests from Liberian clergy working in our diocese to publicize ways that New York Episcopalians can help. You may visit the website of the Liberian Episcopal Community USA (LECUSA) to obtain more information.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . John Sheppard (c. 1515–1558) was one of the finest English church composers of the Tudor era, his achievements judged to be on a par with the famed Thomas Tallis. The only two remaining sources of his music are the Gyffard Partbooks, a set of four manuscript part-books probably copied during the 1570s for Dr. Roger Gyffard, and five surviving part-books from a set of six copied after 1575 by a “gentleman of the choir” at Windsor, John Baldwin. Much of Sheppard’s music is thought to have been composed during his Oxford years, but the music from the Christ Church part-books most likely formed part of the repertory of the Chapel Royal choir during the 1550s, when Sheppard, Tallis, and William Mundy were the three principal composing members of the choir. Sheppard was evidently a key figure in Mary Tudor’s efforts to supply the chapel with elaborate polyphony for the Sarum Rite, which was restored by the Catholic monarch on her accession in 1553. Five surviving Mass cycles demonstrate Sheppard’s elevated composing style. The Missa Cantate (a6) is a full-length, festal setting constructed in units of six-part polyphony, alternating with a variety of semi-choir sections. Of the four four-part Mass cycles, The Western Wind is based on a derived melody that also formed the basis of Mass cycles by John Taverner and Christopher Tye. Two other cycles, Be not afraid and The Frences Mass, are both elaborately contrapuntal and freely constructed, the first being scored for men’s voices. It is the Frences Mass that will be sung at the Solemn Mass on Sunday. During the ministration of Communion, the choir will sing a motet by Christopher Tye (c. 1505–1572) entitled Give alms of thy goods . . . On Sunday afternoon, at 4:40 PM, the organ recital will be played by Ryan Jackson, director of music and fine arts ministries at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. His program includes music by Jehan Alain (1911–1940) and Maurice Duruflé (1902–1986) . . . Last Sunday, the Trinity Choir of Saint Paul’s Church, Salem, Oregon, some thirty singers strong, sang Evensong at 5:00 PM. They sang beautifully. They enjoyed singing here and they were very grateful for the warm welcome they received. We will be welcoming another guest choir at Evensong in January.—Mark Peterson
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . October 18, 2014, New York Repertory Orchestra (Annual Benefit Concert). Tickets are required ($10 at door). Program: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante (with Sheryl Staples, acting concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, violin, and Cynthia Phelps, principal viola of the New York Philharmonic, viola); and Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 . . . Monday, November 17, 8:00 PM, Saint Joseph’s Hall, Saint Cecilia Chamber Music Series, Lucia Stavros, harp. Along with colleagues, Ms. Stavros will play a program of works for solo harp and ensemble pieces with flute and cello. Admission is free. A donation to support the parish’s music program may be made.
VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM . . . The art of Teofilo Olivieri can now be seen in the gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall. Teofilo is a “street artist,” who works with paint on the covers of used or remaindered hardcover books. His current works features delicate silhouettes of a wide variety of birds and animals. Each work is unique (and quite affordable!). Teofilo has struggled with homelessness in the past; he is a working artist who sells his creations in order to make a living. He, and his work, can often be seen on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Twenty-third Street.—José Vidal
MIGHT God BE Calling You to be a Priest or Deacon? . . . If so, you are invited to join a conversation on Vocations, Discernment, and Ministry with the Right Reverend Andrew M. L. Dietsche, bishop of New York, on Saturday, November 8, 2014, 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 PM in Diocesan House on the cathedral close. Pre-registration is required.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Friday, October 31, The Eve of All Saints’ Day, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM . . . Sunday, November 2, 2:00 AM, Daylight Saving Time ends . . . Monday, November 3, All Souls’ Day (transferred), Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Solemn Mass & Blessing of the Vault 6:00 PM . . . Tuesday, November 4, Election Day . . . November 23, The Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King and Commitment Sunday . . . Thursday, November 27, Thanksgiving Day . . . November 30, First Sunday of Advent . . . Sunday, December 7, 6:30 PM, Legacy Society Reception.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the New York Solo Theater Festival, “Saint Mark’s Gospel: The Inspiration Begins,” solo theater piece performed by Tom Bair and directed by Kathleen Conry, on Saturday, November 15, at 4:00 PM, at the United Solo Theatre Festival at Theatre Row, 410 West Forty-second Street. Call Telecharge at 212-239-6200 or 800-447-7400 for reservations and tickets. Tom Bair, the husband of Bishop Geralyn Wolf, is a good friend of Saint Mary’s and worships with us frequently.