FROM THE RECTOR: OUR HAPPY NEW YEAR
It has not been a quiet week in Times Square – and I don’t expect it to be a quiet week in Times Square, or at Saint Mary’s, until the middle of January. It really won’t be quiet, relatively speaking, in our neighborhood until the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday on Monday, January 16. If past is prologue, the crowds will start to reappear again as the “Washington’s Birthday” – still the official name for the federal holiday on the third Monday in February – weekend begins.
At Saint Mary’s, the celebrations of the Christmas Season continue. This year, the only Sunday within Christmastide is January 1, which the Church observes as the feast of the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Jesus was circumcised and named on the eighth day of his life (Luke 2:15-21). This year there will be only one service, Solemn Mass at 11:00 AM. There are Christmas hymns to sing – and the church is still decorated for the season. The will be coffee hour after Mass. And then, this week we have the wonderful celebrations of the Epiphany.
Episcopalians don’t have “holy days of obligation.” We do have three “principal feasts” that usually do not occur on a Sunday – The Epiphany, All Saints’ Day, and Christmas Day, three that always fall on a Sunday – Easter Day, The Day of Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday, and one principal feast that falls on the fortieth day of the Easter Season – Ascension Day. Epiphany is still widely observed with special services in the Episcopal parishes of our city – which makes the heart glad and proud.
At Saint Mary’s, the Epiphany gets full observance with Solemn Evensong on the eve, Thursday, January 5, and the regular principal feast celebrations on the day – that is, Morning Prayer will be sung, not read, at 8:30 AM; following the Noonday Office, the 12:10 PM Mass will be sung; James Kennerley will play a recital at 5:30 PM; Solemn Mass is at 6:00 PM; and a reception follows the evening Mass in Saint Joseph’s Hall.
A number of times this year I have mentioned in this newsletter what I’m pretty sure is the best, current critical survey of early calendar questions, Paul F. Bradshaw’s and Maxwell E. Johnson’s The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity (2011). Bradshaw and Johnson write, “We know that already in the late second or early third century the date of 6 January was associated in Egypt both with Christ’s birth and with his baptism in the Jordan, and that among some, at least, it was already a liturgical celebration with a vigil” (page 137) – a vigil was a prayer service celebrated through the night in the first centuries of the Christian era. The observance of Christmas Day as the day of Jesus’ birth is an observance of the Christian community in Rome, which can be dated with certainty from the year 354.
There are two titles for the Epiphany in the Prayer Book, “The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ” and “The Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.” This is how we sort out the celebrations today. We commemorate the birth on December 25, the circumcision on January 1, the visit of the wise men on January 6, and the baptism of Jesus on the First Sunday after the Epiphany. And every third year, the other “manifestation” gospel, the Wedding at Cana, is the gospel for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany. The calendar and all of these interrelated themes are sorted out in light of the theological, ecclesiastical and political controversies that the Christian community addresses through time.
I invite you to join us for the celebrations for the naming of Jesus on Sunday, January 1, for the Epiphany on Thursday evening and on Friday, and for the celebration of the Baptism of Christ on Sunday, January 8. Christmas and Epiphany worship touch our lives for many reasons. This worship invites us to rejoice, to give thanks and to trust in the Word made flesh. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Mark, Andrew, Marc, Arpene, Susan, Lawrence, Paris, Chandra, John, Ann, Ruth, Dorothy, Richard, Peter, Linda, Jim, Mary, Lee, Dorothy, Gert, Rick, and Deborah Francis, religious; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Matthew, Mark, John, and Rob; and for the repose of the souls of Gary Silvestri and James Cimaglio. . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 1: 1899 Elliot Daingerfield, Jr.; 1906 Ada E. Loehrs; 1915 James C. Peabody; 1919 Franklin B. Miller; 1937 Frederick Potts Moore; 1941 Ada Oakley Rodgers; 1946 Mary Novak; 1973 Bradley Morrell Walls; 1983 Gertrude Schrage.
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 the principal feast of the Epiphany, Friday, January 6, 2012.
STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN 2012 . . . As of December 24, we have received 152 pledges, 25 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. $378,571.00 has been pledged to date, which is 89% of our goal. Please remember that every pledge counts; every pledge represents a commitment to the parish and its mission. If you need a new pledge card or have questions about pledging or how to pledge, please contact Father Jay Smith or call the Finance Office.
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We continue to collect non-perishable food items and cash donations for our outreach partner, the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Please look for the collection basket in the back of the church on Sunday mornings. We are grateful to all those who continue to support the Food Pantry so generously. Your gifts are exceedingly important this year due to state and local budget cuts. Jay Smith
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Childcare will not be available at the Solemn Mass on New Year’s Day, the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Please click on this link for the Services of Christmastide & The Epiphany . . . On New Year’s Eve, Saturday, December 31, on New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, and on Monday, January 2, the church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM . . . The parish office will be closed on Monday, January 2, in observance of the New Year holiday. The church will be open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The noonday services will be offered . . . Thursday, January 5, the Eve of the Epiphany, Solemn Evensong 5:00 PM; Friday, January 6, The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Sung Mass 12:10 PM, Organ Recital 5:30 PM, Solemn Mass 6:00 PM, and Reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall 7:30 PM . . . Confessions are only heard by appointment during Christmastide. The clergy will not sit for confessions on Saturday, December 31. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, January 7. Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, January 14.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Sister Deborah Francis, C.S.J.B., continues to recuperate at the convent in Mendham following surgery. We hope that she will be returning to the parish some time in February. Please keep her in your prayers . . . Sponsors are needed for the receptions following the Solemn Masses on Epiphany, Friday, January 6, and Candlemas, Thursday, February 2. If you would like to be a sponsor, please call the finance office or speak with Father Smith . . . James Kennerley will be on vacation from December 28. He returns to the parish office on Thursday, January 5 . . . Altar flowers are needed for two Sundays in January – January 22 and 29; and for two Sundays in February – February 12 and 19. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Aaron Koch in the Finance Office . . . Attendance: Christmas 980.
CHRISTMAS THANKS . . . We are grateful to all the members and friends of the parish who have worked so hard during Advent and Christmastide. Although we may not be able to provide an entirely accurate list of all those who have volunteered their time in recent days, we shall do our best. We begin by saying thank you to all of our acolytes who handled all the complex liturgies with prayerful dignity, making it possible for others to worship; to James Kennerley and our other musicians, who played and sang so beautifully; to Randy Morgan, who oversaw the ushers’ guild, and to all of our excellent ushers, who greeted our many visitors and helped keep things running smoothly.
Our thanks continue for the members of the Flower Guild and all those who helped to decorate the church, especially Marie Rosseels, who planned and executed the beautiful decorations this year, to Rick Austill, who so ably assisted Marie all week long, and to Dexter Baksh, MaryJane Boland, Troy Buttone, Charles Carson, Daniel Craig, Tom Heffernan, Wayne Mahlke, Dakota Manuel, Richard Mohammed, Randy Morgan, Ronald Perez, Mary Robison, and Cooki Winborn, who provided invaluable and creative assistance. Daniel Craig, Rita Johnson, Robin Landis, and Wayne Mahlke, polished brass and silver, arranged candles, laundered and ironed linens, and helped Sister Laura Katharine in the sacristy in a number of ways. Eddie Burns and Dennis Raverty provided the photographs of the Lady Chapel for our Christmas postcard; James Kennerley designed the postcard; and MaryJane Boland, Dick Leitsch, and José Vidal made the rounds of the local hotels, clubs, and visitors’ centers to distribute the card. Clint Best, Scott Holman, Dick Leitsch, and Bob Picken have been helping our business manager, Aaron Koch, with a host of end-of-year projects. Thank you to all. It would never happen without you; and, if we neglected to include a name, please let us know and we will include an update next week!
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Thursday, February 2, The Presentation, Solemn Pontifical Mass 6:00 PM. The Bishop of New York will be celebrant and preacher . . . Saturday, March 3, Lenten Quiet Day, led by Father John Beddingfield.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . At the Solemn Mass on Sunday morning, Vaughn Mauren will play the organ and direct the choir, in the absence of James Kennerley, who is on vacation. Mr. Mauren is the associate director of music at Christ Church, Bronxville. Music at the Solemn Mass is sung by Ruth Cunningham, soprano; Emilie Williams, alto; and Christopher Howatt, tenor. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Mass for Three Voices by William Byrd (1543–1623). At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Coventry Carol, with words and music taken from the fifteenth–century biblical play The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. James Kennerley
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. There are now several copies of the book in the Gift Shop and more have been ordered . . . 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 on February 8 at 6:30 PM in the Arch Room on the second floor of the Mission House. The first 4 sessions of the class will take place on February 8, 15, 29, and March 7. The rest of the schedule will be announced later this month; it is likely that we will be meeting most Wednesdays until the end of May, working, as always, around the liturgical schedule. We will be reading the Letter to the Hebrews this semester. J.R.S.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . Thursday, January 12, 6:30-8:00 PM, Interfaith Panel: Jerusalem – Sacred City of Three Faiths, at the Museum of Biblical Art (Mobia), 1865 Broadway at 61st Street. Sponsored by Mobia and the Jewish Community Center. Free and includes museum admission. Registration required. Call Mobia at 212-408-1251 . . . Sunday, January 15, 10:00 AM, Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street: Angeline Butler presents a forum considering the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the heritage of the civil rights movement. Ms. Butler is a good friend of Saint Mary’s. She was deeply involved in the civil rights movement during the 1960s.