FROM THE RECTOR: ECUMENICAL RELATIONSHIPS
Last week while preparing to preach on the baptism of Christ I ended up pulling out a lot of books from my shelves, among them an important study of baptism by an evangelical scholar, Baptism in the New Testament (1962) by George Raymond Beasley-Murray (1916-2000). Beasley-Murray was British and a Baptist minister. He taught at seminaries in England, Switzerland and the United States. The book remains a significant advocate for what is called “believer’s baptism.” What that means can be a rather large subject, but it always means that only those who are old enough to confess their faith (in other words, not infants and young children) can be baptized.
The last chapter of the book is called, “Baptismal Reform and Inter-Church Relationships.” When the book was published the Second Vatican Council was just underway. Ecumenism had taken on new life after the Second World War. A lot of people were taking fresh looks at ecumenical issues. Concerning the fundamentally ecumenical question of baptism Beasley-Murray wrote, “There is a willingness everywhere to think again concerning the Church’s interpretation and practice of baptism” (389)—a sentiment that continues to be expressed by scholars, pastors and others in many places.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on January 18 with the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle and concludes on January 25 with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. It’s worth noting that Beasley-Murray used the word “Church” (with a capital “C”) to refer to Christians across denominational lines.
He did not distance himself from his convictions about believer’s baptism, but he openly wondered about ways in which Baptists and others might be open to some compromises that could lead the Christian community to renewal. In the decidedly less ecumenical environment of our early twenty-first century, his words and those of others of his generation, might encourage us to think again about how work on baptism can be “a beginning of hope” and one “that ought to be made without delay” (388).
One important thing that comes through Beasley-Murray’s work is respect, honesty and commitment not only for his own convictions but also about the convictions of those with whom he disagrees profoundly. That’s hard. But I’d like to think I could break bread with him, and he with me, because he’s fundamentally honest about what the Bible says and does not say. In that sense I hope he would find me very much walking along the same path of faith. At least as our walk began, as it were, his conclusions would not be the same as mine, but the journey of faith leads people to new life.
The Episcopal Church occupies a very special place in the wider Christian world. It was born of the necessity of what it meant to be an English Christian in a country that was no longer English. Our best selves have been open to new directions ever since. For myself, I know I highly value knowledge and honesty. I continue to pray that we are moving in the right direction and that others are too. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Dick, Gypsy, Cintra, Grace, Jack, Barbara, Jonathan, Margaret, William, Sharon, Rick, Rob, Takeem, Linda, Casey, Eloise, Arpene, Clair, priest, Harry, priest, and Paulette, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Mark, Alex, and Elizabeth . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 19: 1917 Anna Kraus; 1919 David William Loeber; 1924 David Lewis Coles; 1931 Archibald Venn; 1953 Mary Isabelle Reynolds.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2014 . . . On Sunday, a young woman who works and lives in our neighborhood stopped Father Smith at Coffee Hour and said, “I want to thank you and your parishioners for keeping your doors open every day. You don’t know how much that means to me. I come in to the church several days a week, just to pray, or to sit and think. It really, really helps.” And so, our campaign continues! We invite you to support the mission and ministry of Saint Mary’s. Please help us to keep our doors open. If you haven’t made a pledge for 2014, we encourage you to do so (no pledge is too small and it is never too late to make a pledge!). If you have made a pledge for 2014, we thank you. We are moving ever closer to our goal of $450,000. If you would like to receive a pledge card, please contact the finance office. If you have questions about pledging, please contact a member of the Stewardship Committee: MaryJane Boland, Steven Heffner, or Marie Rosseels. Jay Smith
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins Saturday, January 18, with the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM and Mass 12:10 PM. The Week concludes on Saturday, January 25, with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul . . . Monday, January 20, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Federal Holiday Schedule. The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. Only the noonday services are offered and the parish offices are closed . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will not meet this coming Sunday, January 19. Church School for the older children will meet with Peter Secor at 10:00 AM, in the Morning Room. The Adult Forum will not meet . . . 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 . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, January 18, by Father Jim Pace, and on Saturday, January 25, by Father Jay Smith . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on January 22 at 6:30 PM in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
SUPER BOWL PARTY . . . Sunday, February 2, 6:00-10:00 PM. Admission $5.00. We hope that some of our parishioners will also be able to bring a dish to share at the party. If so, please contact Father Jay Smith and let him know what you will be bringing so he can plan the menu. Beverages will be provided. If you would like to volunteer to provide hospitality (set up begins at 4:00 PM), please contact Father Smith.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . If you would still like to receive 2014 pledge envelopes, please contact the finance office . . . Rodrigo Emilio Marrero received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism at the Solemn Mass on Sunday. His sister and brother, Paz and Conrad, were baptized here in 2011. Please keep the children and their parents, Natalie and Conrad, Sr., in your prayers . . . Thank you to all those who volunteered their time to “un-decorate” the church last Saturday. It is not a glamorous job and it always takes longer than one expects, but it is a task always undertaken by our parishioners and friends with enthusiasm and a good spirit. Taking down the decorations is also one of the ways that we mark the changing liturgical seasons. We appreciate all our volunteers’ hard work. We were very pleased that parishioner Dick Leitsch was able to join the work crew! . . . 2014 Episcopal Church calendars will be available for purchase ($10.00 each) at Coffee Hour after the Solemn Mass on Sunday . . . Father Jay Smith is away from the parish on retreat from Thursday, January 16, until Sunday, January 19. He will be back in the office on Tuesday, January 21 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 220.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . The Mass setting at the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning is Missa brevis by Antonio Lotti (1669–1740). Lotti was an Italian Baroque composer. His father was the Kapellmeister in Hannover, Germany, where Lotti’s brother and sister were born. It is unclear where Antonio was born, but by 1682 his family was back in Venice. He began studying with Lodovico Fuga as well as with the important composer Giovanni Legrenzi, both of whom were employed at Venice’s Saint Mark’s Basilica. Lotti made his way through the musical ranks at Saint Mark’s, first as a singer, then as second organist (1690), first organist (1704), temporary primo maestro di cappella (1733), and finally, permanent primo maestro di cappella (1736), a position he held until his death. Antonio Lotti wrote some of the most important music of the Italian Baroque. He wrote in a variety of forms, producing Masses, cantatas, madrigals, around thirty operas, and instrumental music. His music for the operatic stage was brilliant while highly dramatic and harmonically daring. In addition to his sacred music and operas, he wrote solo cantatas with strings, and some with continuo only. His Miserere in D (1733) became a tradition at Saint Mark’s, played every Maundy Thursday at Saint Mark’s during the eighteenth century. In his church music, he was an arch-conservative (usually to the point of foregoing any instrumental accompaniment), writing very learned, traditional counterpoint, yet managing to keep the results brilliant. His secular music, however, tracked all the important developments in music during the Baroque era, even to the point of shifting toward the less contrapuntal music of the awakening Classical era in music. His work is considered a bridge between the established Baroque and emerging Classical styles. Lotti is known to have influenced J.S. Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Jan Dismas Zelenka, all of whom owned copies of Lotti’s Masses. At the ministration of Holy Communion on Sunday we will hear the Latin motet, Expectans expectavi by Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594), a major Renaissance composer from the Netherlands. Mark Peterson
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . Christian Education on Sunday, January 19: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will not meet; Church School for the older children will meet at 10:00 AM in the Morning Room . . . The Adult Forum will not meet. The Forum resumes on Sunday, January 26, at 10:00 AM on the second floor of the Mission House. Father Jay Smith will lead the class in the second and final part of his 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 following week, Dr. Dennis Raverty will begin a two-part series on religious and spiritual images in modern art. On February 2, he will discuss the work of Marc Chagall and, on February 9, the work of the Surrealists . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will meet on Wednesday, January 22. Jay Smith
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Saturday, January 25, Conversion of Saint Paul, Mass 12:10 PM . . . Sunday, February 2, Candlemas, Mass and Blessing of Candles, 9:00 & 10:00 AM, Blessing of Candles, 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, The Blessing of Throats will be offered during the 12:10 PM and at the conclusion of Evening Prayer.
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. J.R.S.