FROM THE RECTOR: RADICAL CHANGE
Until 1928 Episcopalians never heard an account of Jesus’ baptism on Sunday mornings or at celebrations of baptism. For the first time in the Prayer Book tradition, the 1928 American book appointed Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism for the Second Sunday after Epiphany. Massey Shepherd described this as “the original Epiphany gospel” (The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary  111-12)—and certainly it is one of the gospels anciently associated with the feast.
There was another important change in 1928. In all previous English and American Prayer Books, there were different rites for the baptism of infants and persons of “riper years.” In 1928 there was one rite, now called, “The Ministration of Holy Baptism.” It’s worth noting that the 1928 Prayer Book, like all Prayer Books since the Reformation, presumed a weekly celebration of the Eucharist, and, like its predecessors, directed that baptism ordinarily be celebrated on Sundays and Holy Days during the regular services of the church.
One can point to many changes in the present Prayer Book from earlier books, perhaps the most fundamental changes in this book grew out of study and work on the theology of baptism. Baptism now is understood and experienced as Easter, Christ dying and rising in those he is calling to faith. The baptismal rite could no longer be focused on “the mystical washing away of sin” (The Book of Common Prayer  279). Jesus’ baptism and his death and resurrection would renew and reshape our rites and our celebrations, and not just initiation.
In our new book, every year the gospel on the First Sunday after the Epiphany is one of the three accounts of Jesus being baptized. Now, when baptism is celebrated the church prays, “We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death, by it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit” (The Book of Common Prayer  306).
There’s one more thing in the new Prayer Book that has helped the church live into baptism in a new way. This “Additional Direction” was also new in 1979: “Holy Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter Vigil, on the Day of Pentecost, on All Saints’ Day or the Sunday after All Saints’ Day, and on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the First Sunday after the Epiphany). It is recommended that, as far as possible, Baptisms be reserved for these occasions or when a bishop is present” (The Book of Common Prayer  312).
The Reverend Dr. Daniel B. Stevik was a member of the Drafting Committee on Christian Initiation for the new Prayer Book. He was asked to write “a background paper and commentary” on the rites the committee had prepared. It was published as a “supplement” to the rites. He wrote, “The rubric suggests that the location of Baptism within the Christian Year can say something valuable about both Baptism and the Church’s expressive use of time” (Supplement to Prayer Book Studies 26  106).
Baptisms have always been celebrated at different times through the year—and not just at Easter (Paul Bradshaw and Maxwell Johnson, The Origins of Feast, Fasts and Season in Early Christianity  86). That said, it is the renewal of our understanding of baptism in scripture readings and in our rites that has put the resurrection at the heart of everything we know and do as we follow Jesus. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dick, Jack, Barbara, Suzanne, Jonathan, Margaret, William, Sharon, Rick, Rob, Takeem, Linda, Casey, Eloise, Arpene, Clair, priest, and Paulette, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark, Alex, and Elizabeth; and for the repose of the souls of Pierre Loewe and Arnold Snider . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 12: 1912 Margaret E. Culbertson; 1937 Harry Wildner; 1949 Clara Maud King; 1953 Loretta M. Adger; 1955 Lena Lloyd; 1975 Clarissa Pierson Jacocks.
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 not meet on Sunday, January 12. . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 11, by Father Gerth . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on January 15 at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins Saturday, January 18, with the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter, Mass 12:10 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . 2014 Episcopal Church calendars will be available for purchase ($10.00 each) at Coffee Hour after the Solemn Mass on Sunday . . . Super Bowl Party: Are you a friendly sort? Do you have decent organizational skills? Are you comfortable around a kitchen, with food, and a bottle or two of beer? Then perhaps you might be interested in helping to organize and run this year’s Super Bowl Party on Sunday, February 2, 6:00-10:00 PM. Please contact Father Jay Smith if you’d like to help. A knowledge of or football is not required! . . . Father Jay Smith will be away from the parish on retreat from the afternoon of Thursday, January 16, through Sunday, January 19. He returns to the parish on Monday, January 20 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 204; Epiphany 169.
LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS: The members of the Flower Guild will be gathering in Saint Joseph’s Hall on Saturday, January 11, beginning at 10:15 AM, in order to remove the Christmas decorations from the church. They would very much appreciate it is some volunteers could join them in order to do this. They promise to get this done as quickly and efficiently as possible! Please contact Marie Rosseels for more information.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . William Walton (1902–1983) was a native of Oxford, England, becoming a chorister at Christ Church, Oxford, at the age of ten, and completing a degree there. He was actively composing at the age of fifteen and, while he received no formal training in that art, Walton continued to write, fulfilling commissions, and, in time, presenting a work for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. His Coronation Te Deum received great critical acclaim, but it is the motets on religious texts for which he is best remembered. Here is an instinctive, non-intellectualized style of composition, without obvious motivation or denominational loyalty. There is, however, a religious sensibility to his work, and a forthright, immediate approach to the setting of text. The Mass setting that we hear at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning, Walton’s Missa brevis, was a commission from the Friends of Coventry Cathedral in 1966 and was first presented there. It is his only Mass setting. At the ministration of Holy Communion, we will hear an anthem by American composer, Harold Friedell (1905–1958), long time organist and director of music at the Church of Saint Bartholomew on Park Avenue. The text is from a poem by American poet Edith Williams (1854–1925). Mark Peterson
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Christian Education on Sunday, January 12: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Church School for Older Children will not meet; The Adult Forum will meet on Sunday, January 12, at 10:00 AM on the second floor of the Mission House. Father Jay Smith will lead the class in a discussion of Byzantine iconoclasm, as a way of approaching and trying to understand the veneration of images in both East and West (and here at Saint Mary’s!) . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, January 15. We will begin reading at Acts 12, with the martyrdom of Saint James and the arrest of Saint Peter. Jay Smith
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Monday, January 20, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Federal Holiday Schedule . . . Saturday, January 25, Conversion of Saint Paul, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Sunday, February 2, Candlemas, Procession and Solemn Pontifical Mass 11:00 AM . . . Sunday, February 2, 6:00 PM-10:00 PM, Super Bowl Party, Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Monday, February 3, Saint Blase, Mass & Blessing of Throats 12:10 PM.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . New York Cares Coat Drive: We are collecting coats for the annual drive here at Saint Mary’s until the end of January. For some reason, donations of coats here in the city are down 35% this year. Large men’s coats and children’s coats are always in high demand. Coats may also be delivered directly to sites around the city. Visit the New York Cares website for more information . . . 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.