FROM THE RECTOR: CHANGING CHANGE
One upside from having an inflamed rotator cuff diagnosed (this medical episode is just about over as I write) is finding time to catch up on my reading in waiting rooms—and the time to reflect on what I have read while walking home from the East Side where all my doctors seem to be. I’ve been reading for many weeks now through a collection of Edwin Friedman’s articles published after his death, The Myth of the Shiksa and Other Essays (2008). In one piece, “How to Succeed in Therapy Without Really Trying,” Ed wrote this about the therapist’s profession, of which he was a noted practitioner and teacher:
When the task of the clinician becomes learning about life rather than imposing change, the challenge of therapy lies no longer in the contest of will with the client, but in satisfying one’s own curiosity about what makes people tick (page 54).
These words stopped my reading. I quickly found a piece of paper and tried to imagine how Ed might have written about his other profession, that of an ordained rabbi in Reform Judaism:
When the task of the rabbi becomes learning about life rather than imposing change, the challenge of his or her work lies no longer in the contest of will with the congregation, but in satisfying one’s own curiosity about the gift and mystery of life.
This Sunday, November 18, is the fourteenth anniversary of my visit to Saint Mary’s to interview for the position of rector. I’ll never forget the extraordinary impression this church building made on me as I opened the doors and entered for the first time that afternoon. Many moments of that day and the following days remain vivid for me—and none more than sitting down to dinner that first night with Linda Bridges, who was head of the search committee, and Gerald McKelvey, who was acting president of the board of trustees.
Gerald’s first question to me was, “What are you going to do to save Saint Mary’s?” My immediate response was, “What are you willing to change?” Our conversation drifted to budgets, programs and growth—important things certainly, but not the only important things. The conversation was serious and, to be honest, a little anxiety-provoking for me. But the conversation was also fun, playful among the three of us that night. Saint Mary’s took a chance on me, something of which I continue to try to be worthy and for which I continue to be deeply thankful.
I know that I look at change, personal change and change within human institutions, very differently today than I did fourteen years ago. I know that how you and I work, give and pray in this life can really matter for other people as well as ourselves. But I don’t think we can really fix other people or our world by attempting to impose our will or any particular theology on anybody. Just fixing things wasn’t what Jesus was about.
How might Rabbi Friedman have composed his observation about therapists if he were trying to say the same thing about a congregation? With respect, here’s a starting point:
When the task of a congregation becomes learning about life rather than imposing change, the challenge of its work lies no longer in the contest of will with others inside or outside of itself, but in satisfying its curiosity about the gift and mystery of life.
Learning about life begins with knowing what we can about past and present. Learning inevitably invites us into the future—and into the truth. We are always changing, one way or another, and God, the Truth, is always with us. Stephen Gerth
2013 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . Although we got off to a slow start because of Hurricane Sandy, the response to this year’s campaign has been encouraging. As of November 14, we have reached 30% of our goal of $450,000.00. Obviously, we have a ways to go, but we are pleased that more pledge cards are arriving every day. Commitment Sunday is less than two weeks away. Please return pledge cards as soon as you are able. If have not yet received a pledge packet, but would like to receive one, please contact the parish office, Father Jay Smith or MaryJane Boland.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Cheryl, Henrietta, Lucia, Fernando, Guido, Charlotte, Emil, Richard, Joseph, Sharon, Linda, Arpene, Robert, priest, Paulette, priest, and Rowan, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, and Matthew; and for the repose of the soul of Daniel Okobi . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . November 18: 1884 Bertha Bageley; 1915 Rose Anne Gallagher; 1933 John George Rappel; 1951 Henrietta Siberta Carter.
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Daniel Okobi, father of Daniel Okobi, Jr., died on November 5. He was 62 years old. Chief Daniel Okobi was Nigerian and a Biafra veteran. Services will be held at the Church of the Incarnation, Freeport, New York, and at Saint Gabriel’s Church, Hollis, Queens, before burial in Nigeria at Saint Luke’s Anglican Church, Oraifite, Anambra State. Please remember his widow, Carol, and their children, Daniel, Adaobi, Chimezie, and Nwamaka in your prayers. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
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 . . . Sunday, November 18, 10:00 AM: Father Peter Powell leads the final part of his three-part series on Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study class will not meet on November 21, the Eve of Thanksgiving Day . . . Wednesday, November 21, Eve of Thanksgiving Day, Sung Mass 6:00 PM . . . Thursday, November 22, Thanksgiving Day, Federal Holiday Schedule: Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM. The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM. The parish offices will be closed . . . Mother Mary Julia Jett will hear confessions on Saturday, November 17. Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, November 24.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The parish clergy and our delegates Brother William Francis Jones, BSG, and Dale Reynolds will be attending the Diocesan Convention on Saturday, November 17 . . . The exhibition of the work of Erick Sánchez, Genesis: Creation and Decadence, continues in Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Flowers are needed for December 16, the Third Sunday of Advent; and for January 6, 13, and 20. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 273.
EPISCOPAL RESPONSE TO AIDS announces the Worlds AIDS Day service will take place on Sunday, December 2, 2012, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Garden City, New York at 3:00 PM. The Right Reverend Lawrence Provenzano, bishop of Long Island will be celebrant. All are invited . . . Parishioner Wayne Mahlke is currently serving as chair of the board of directors for this organization. You can learn more about it on its website here.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The prelude for Solemn Mass is Ballo del Granduca, SwWV 319, by Dutch composer Jan Pierterszoon Sweelinck (1562–1621). Known primarily as a keyboard player whose teaching helped to establish the North-German organ tradition, Sweelinck composed several sets of variations on sacred, as well as secular, tunes. This tune, known originally as the Aria del Gran Duca, originated in a number by Emilio de Cavalieri in the Florentine Intermedio (a particularly theatrical musical performance) of 1592. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Cuiusvis toni by Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1410–1497), an important Franco-Flemish composer of the generation between Guillaume Dufay and Josquin Desprez. His output included fourteen Masses, and this setting is able to be sung in any of the four primary church modes (the precursors to our modern major and minor keys), though it is most commonly sung, as today, in the Phrygian mode. The motet at Communion is a setting of the Marian votive antiphon, Alma redemptoris Mater, by Ockeghem . . . On Sunday afternoon at 4:40 PM the organ recital before Evensong will be played by Colin MacKnight, The Juilliard School, New York. The service of Evensong will be played by Enrico Contenti, organist, Saint Mary’s Church, Staten Island. I will be away from the parish on Sunday evening, playing organ for the Westchester Oratorio Society's performance of Brahms’s German Requiem. James Kennerley
ADVENT QUIET DAY . . . Father Jim Pace will lead a Quiet Day here at the parish on Saturday, December 15, 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM. Coffee and tea, and lunch, will be provided. If you’d like to attend, please contact Father Jay Smith so he can make plans for lunch. All are welcome.
HOSPITALITY AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are hoping to receive donations to help defray the costs of the reception following the Solemn Mass on Friday, December 7. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the finance office. We are also always happy to receive donations to cover the costs of our Sunday receptions. Thank you to all who support this important ministry!
ADULT EDUCATION ON SUNDAYS. . . The adult-education class will meet this coming Sunday at 10:00 AM. Father Powell will lead the class in a discussion of the Letter to the Romans. The class will not meet on Sunday, November 25 . . . On Sunday, December 2, 9 & 16, at 10:00 AM, Mother Mary Julia Jett leads a series on the history and theology of the so-called Ritualist Movement in England and America during the mid- to late-nineteenth century. The class will examine, and look beyond, the details of ritual, decoration, and aesthetics, attempting to explore, among other things, how the movement was connected to the Oxford Movement; the controversies, riots, and arrests associated with so-called Ritualist practices; what the strengths and weaknesses of the movement were; what the movement can tell us about our own worship; and the connections the “Ritualists” made between the sacraments and social justice. The class is designed to raise and answer questions about the history and identity of this parish, which has, since its founding, been committed to Catholic renewal within the Anglican Communion.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We delivered (thank you, Mother Mary Jett!) toys and gift items to the Cathedral on Tuesday for AIDS Action International’s annual Saint Nicholas Celebration. Thank you to all who made donations to this effort . . . We continue to gather warm clothing – socks, coats of all sizes, sweaters, and sweatshirts— and blankets for distribution to the homeless in our neighborhood. Some of those items, as well as non-perishable food items, will be sent to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please contact Sister Deborah Francis for more information about the Pantry’s work . . . Thank you so much to all those who have been donating books for the Book Sale. Your assistance and generosity are very much appreciated. All proceeds are used to help those in need.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway at 61st Street, Louis C. Tiffany & the Art of Devotion, October 12, 2012–January 20, 2013. The exhibition will consider the array of church decorations and memorials that Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933) produced beginning in the early 1880s. . . Father Matthew Mead, rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Granite Springs—who served here as curate from 2004 to 2009—will be leading a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land June 28 to July 8, 2013. The pilgrimage is open to anyone, and this is an excellent opportunity to visit the Holy Land with a great group of Episcopalians. Please feel free to contact Father Mead for more information.