FROM THE RECTOR: ADVENT & CHRISTMAS
On Christmas Eve, there will be two services in the evening, Sung Mass at 5:00 PM and Procession & Solemn Mass at 11:00 PM. On Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25, and on New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, 2012, the church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on Sunday this year, but there will be only one service on each of those days. On December 25, the service at 11:00 AM will be Solemn Mass & Procession to the Crèche. On New Year’s Day, there will be Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM.
Sunday, January 1, is the Feast of the Holy Name of Our Lord. This observance outranks the observance of the First Sunday after Christmas Day. Again, there will be one service on this Sunday – for many reasons, but principally because the church is near Times Square. On Sunday, December 18, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the regular schedule is observed with Sung Matins at 8:30 AM, Masses at 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM and Solemn Evensong & Benediction at 5:00 PM. Before Evensong, there will be an organ recital which begins at 4:40 PM.
The Prayer Book begins its introduction to “The Calendar of the Church Year” with the long sentence, “The Church Year consists of two cycles of feasts and holy days: one is dependent upon the moveable date of the Sunday of the Resurrection or Easter Day; the other, upon the fixed dated of December 25, The Feast of our Lord’s Nativity or Christmas Day” (The Book of Common Prayer , 3). One might also note the role of our civil calendar, with its leap years every four years (except for years divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400) – like the year 1900 – in shaping time. I like the change from year to year. The sequence is beyond simple human manipulation. It’s a small, but significant reminder to me that what is unfolding is God’s time, not humankind’s.
Advent is as long as it can be this year. Like Eastertide, but unlike Lent, a fair number of weekday commemorations are observed. Of the twenty-four weekdays of this year’s full season, only thirteen are ordinary “weekdays of Advent” for us at Saint Mary’s. In addition to our patronal feast on December 8, two major feasts are observed in Advent this year: Saint Andrew the Apostle on November 30 and Saint Thomas the Apostle on December 21. But, except for Saint Thomas’s Day, beginning on December 14 all of the weekdays and Sundays are of Advent. For me, it now really feels like Advent in church every day. I appreciate very much the quiet and the pace of these days.
Beginning December 16, we also make use of the traditional antiphons for the Song of Mary at Daily Evening Prayer – well-known to all as they serve as the basis for the verses in the hymn, “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” We include the commonly omitted antiphon of Mary. The antiphon about Mary is a use from the English, not continental, Church. This is the verse:
O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be?
For neither before thee was any like thee,
nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me?
The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.
Mystery is at the heart of the gift of life that we have received from God. The gospel on this Fourth Sunday of Advent is the annunciation of Mary from Luke. “How shall this be?,” the Virgin asks. How and why are questions humankind has framed since the beginning. The answer given by the angel to Mary was that the Holy Spirit would act. I think another answer works too. It’s a simple phrase, in Greek and in English, that we have from the First Letter of John, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Stephen Gerth
A PERSONAL NOTE FROM THE RECTOR . . . I am scheduled to have outpatient surgery on Friday, December 16, for the repair of an inguinal hernia. I am told that I will be really sore for several days following the procedure; but I should be good to go for Christmas Eve. A special word of thanks to Fathers Pace and Smith who will be picking up the slack this weekend. Food and other assistance have already been arranged – I’ve been a bachelor too many years not to know the drill. That said, I would sincerely appreciate your prayers and the gift of time simply to rest. My goal is not only to be in the pulpit on Christmas Eve, but also at the altar. S.G.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2012 . . . As of December 10, we have received 130 pledges, 22 of them new pledges or pledges from households that were not able to make a pledge for 2011. Our goal for the campaign this year is $425,000.00. $351,311.00 has been pledged to date, which is 83% of our goal. We still have a good ways to go; however, we remain cautiously optimistic. Last year, 177 households made pledges to the parish. At this point in the campaign, 61% of those households have made a pledge for 2012. Please remember that every pledge counts; every pledge represents a commitment to the parish and its mission. If you need a pledge card or have questions about pledging or how to pledge, please contact Father Jay Smith or call the Finance Office. Thank you so much to all those who have already pledged this year.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Arpene, Susan, Lawrence, Paris, Chandra, John, Ann, Ruth, Dorothy, Richard, Peter, Linda, Jim, Mary, Lee, Dorothy, Gert, Rick, Stephen, Deborah Francis, religious, and Carlson, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew, Mark, John, and Rob . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 18: 1910 Eliza Ackley Constant Lempton; 1912 Bertha Schaeffer; 1921 Mary Webb; 1931 John Poff; 1962 Alice Davis Anthony.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. Abstinence is not observed on Fridays of the twelve days of Christmas.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will meet on Sunday, December 18, at 9:45 AM . . . The Adult Forum has begun its Christmas recess and will not meet on Sunday . . . Wednesday, December 21, is the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle. Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 PM and at 6:20 PM. Saint Thomas’ Day is the Rector’s twenty-eighth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study has also begun its Christmas recess. The class will not meet again until January . . . On Saturday morning, December 24, Morning Prayer will be offered at 8:30 AM and the last Mass of Advent will be celebrated at 9:00 AM . . . Father Jay Smith will hear confessions on Saturday, December 17. The clergy will not sit for confessions on Saturday, December 24, or Saturday, December 31. Confessions may be heard by appointment.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., had surgery on Monday, November 21. She has now returned home to the convent in Mendham, where she will spend some weeks recuperating before her return to Saint Mary’s. Please keep her in your prayers . . . The Rev. Canon Carlson Gerdau, a good friend of the parish, is now in the cardiac care unit at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Please keep him in your prayers . . . Thank you to all who worked so hard to make the celebrations during our patronal feast so joyous, so prayerful, and so beautiful: thank you to our faithful and accomplished acolytes, ushers, floral designers, and musicians; thank you also to José Vidal, who organized the Legacy Society reception on December 7 as well as the reception on December 8; thank you to Jim Dennis, who oversaw our fine team of ushers; thank you to Jim and to Jon Bryant for so capably and so graciously providing hospitality at the reception after the Solemn Mass; thank you also to Heather Peskin and Violet Greene, who baked delicious desserts for the reception and provided other treats as well; thank you to the donors who sponsored the receptions and bolstered our hospitality budget; thank you to Daniel Craig, Dick Leitsch, and Wayne Mahlke for assisting at the Sung Mass and for providing Sister Laura Katharine with much-needed help in the sacristy . . . We are very grateful to our volunteers who organized and processed our Christmas Appeal mailing last Sunday: George Handy, Dick Leitsch, Margaret Malone, Brenda Morgan, Jason Mudd, Marie Rosseels, Dennis Smith, Reha Sterbin, and Guy Strobel . . . On Tuesday evening, December 13, Father Gerth hosted a dinner in the rectory to thank those members of the Saint Vincent’s Guild of Acolytes who serve as masters of ceremonies. The dinner included a work meeting. We are very grateful to our masters of ceremonies and to all our acolytes, who continue to serve so faithfully and so well here at the parish . . . Father John Beddingfield, former curate here at Saint Mary’s, recently preached a sermon at his parish in Washington, DC, in which he provided his hearers with a fine meditation on the “O Antiphons.” His sermon may be read at http://beddingfield.blogspot.com/2011/12/singing-our-os.html . . . Attendance: Conception 263, Last Sunday 235.
THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF FOUNDING RECTOR . . . Thomas McKee Brown was born in 1841. He was ordained priest in 1866. In 1868, he became the first rector of the new parish for Longacre Square, the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. He provided the leadership, the vision and the faithfulness which still shapes our common life and ministry. He died in the rectory on December 19, 1898. A moving account of his death was published in the January 1899 issue of the parish newsletter The Arrow (pages 4-5). If you haven’t read it, you will learn much about him and about our parish. S.G.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION . . . On Sunday, January 15, at 10:00 AM, Father Jim Pace will begin a three-part series entitled “Comfort and Suffering” . . . On Sunday, February 5, Father Jay Smith will begin a three-part series entitled “What Do Episcopalians Believe?” For this series, Father Smith will be working with a new book, What Episcopalians Believe: An Introduction (Morehouse Publishing, 2011), written by Samuel Wells, the Dean of the Duke University Chapel and Research Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke Divinity School. Copies of the book can be purchased at amazon.com or in the parish gift shop, beginning in January . . . On Sunday, February 26, Father Pete Powell will begin a five-part series on Genesis 1-11, entitled, “What does the Bible really say about Creation and the Flood. How can thinking Christians claim these stories as their own?” . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class will resume in January. Please stay tuned for further information about dates, times, and the biblical book we’ve chosen to read. Thank you to all who so faithfully attended the class on the Letter to the Ephesians this past semester. J.R.S.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude and postlude this Sunday is the Fantasia & Fuge g–moll, BWV 542, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). Asperges me is sung to a setting by Michael Haydn (1737–1806). The setting of the Mass ordinary is the Missa brevis in G “Rorate coeli desuper,” Hob. XXII:3, by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809). The setting was composed around 1750, and is probably the first Mass that Haydn published. It is a true Missa brevis (literally “brief Mass”): the Gloria, for example, (which lasts about one minute) is composed in such a way that the voice parts sing multiple lines of the text simultaneously. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings a setting of the Marian votive antiphon Alma Redemptoris Mater, by sixteenth–century Portugese composer Aires Fernandez . . . On Sunday at 4:40 PM, Iris Lan will play the organ recital before Evensong and Benediction. Her program includes music by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963). James Kennerley
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . During November and December, we will be collecting new and gently used coats for the New York Cares Coat Drive. The deadline is December 31. If you would like to donate a coat, please speak to Father Smith or bring the coat with you on Sunday . . . We are also collecting toys and gifts, including gift cards, to donate to the New York Foundling Hospital. The hospital, located on Sixth Avenue in Chelsea, works with children, teenagers, and families in need. The deadline is December 16 . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items for the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please consider making a regular donation to the Food Pantry. Look for the basket in the back of the church or in Saint Joseph’s Hall. You may make a cash donation as well . . . Father Smith continues his Book Sale on Sunday. All proceeds are used to benefit the Food Pantry and others who are in need.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Friday, December 16, 7:00 PM, Northfield Mount Hermon School Christmas Vespers Concert. Featuring the NMH Singers, Chamber Orchestra, Select Women's Ensemble, and Concert Choir in works by Pärt, Willcocks, Vivaldi (Gloria), in addition to congregational carols. Sheila Heffernon, conductor. ADMISSION BY DONATION . . . Saturday, December 17, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra Annual Benefit. David Leibowitz, music director. Music by Chausson, Wagner, and Tchaikovsky. ADMISSION BY TICKET.
AWAY FROM SAINT MARY’S . . . The Peccadillo Theater Company at the Theatre at Saint Clement’s presents a revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s classic and very funny play, The Man Who Came to Dinner. Limited engagement, November 25-December 18. Directed by Dan Wackerman. Dan is a good friend of Saint Mary’s and often worships with us on Sunday mornings. For reservations and tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit www.thepeccadillo.com. The Theater has very kindly offered Saint Marians and their friends discounted tickets. When ordering tickets, use the following code in order to get the discount: PTCCH.