FROM THE RECTOR: HAPPY CHRISTMASTIDE
At one point during the Solemn Mass on Christmas Eve, I leaned over and said to Bishop Frank Griswold, “My inner Benedictine is worried that tonight is almost too beautiful.” And it was—almost too beautiful. It was a very happy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the parish. Many, many people make special gifts of time, treasure and talent to make it so special. Their efforts were widely appreciated. Less noticeable, but still very significant, were those who made gifts for clothing and gave food and money for our outreach program. It would not have been so wonderful had it not been for all of these things and for the presence of all who could be here at the two Masses on Christmas Eve and the Mass on Christmas Day.
On and off for a while now, I’ve been reading Ron Chernow’s Washington: A Life (2010). George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis on January 6, 1759. They referred to the Epiphany, again their anniversary, as “Twelfth Night.” But if there are Twelve Days of Christmas, if we count Christmas Day as the first day, then how is Epiphany evening the “Twelfth Night”? Massey Shepherd comes to the rescue in his The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary (1950), “The popular English name for this feast [The Epiphany] is ‘Twelfth Day,’ i.e. it is the twelfth day from Christmas and concludes the Christmas festivities” (107).
After the celebrations of the “Companions of Christ” on December 26 (Saint Stephen), December 27 (Saint John), and December 28 (The Holy Innocents), at the daily Masses the first readings are from the First Letter of John. This letter contains an extended meditation on how God demonstrates his love for us by sending his Son to be the savior. The letter seeks also to reassure us about how we may know what is the true Spirit of God, “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.”
God changed all the rules, as it were, when he revealed himself as love and life in the person of his Son Jesus. These were not revelations about a moment in time, but about God’s own self, for time beyond time. During Christmastide, that is the Twelve Days of Christmas, the church invites us to step back and reflect on the enormity of the gift of life that we all have received—and to see that gift in all other people.
Last year, Christmas Day was a Sunday. This year, the Epiphany falls on Sunday. This sequence has a particular importance for our parish because of the civic celebrations of the new year that take place in Times Square. On New Year’s Eve, following the regular morning and noonday services, the church closes at 2:00 PM. January 1 is the Feast of the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ—who was circumcised and named on the eighth day (Luke 2:21). The church will be open from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. A Sung Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 AM.
I write this message with many thanks for all who made our Christmas celebrations so wonderful. It was very special for Bishop Griswold to be with us. I am very thankful as well for this parish’s friends who are near and far who remain committed to the witness of this church in this place. I know our open doors—and the almost too beautiful decorations of this almost too beautiful church—have touched the several thousand people who will come into Saint Mary’s during Christmastide. When all is said and done, all who enter, I hope, will know not only they have entered a place of prayer, but a place of love. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Cornelia, Birgut, Richard, Pat, Donna, Michael, Charles, Sharon, George, Judy, Philip, Marilyn, Barbara, Cheryl, Jeff, Daniel, Eileen, Linda, Michael, Arpene, and Paulette, priest; and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, and Matthew . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . December 30: 1931 Lela Thuresson Brown; 1937 Josephine Theresa Gunther Horvath; 1977 Josephine Thompson.
THE FRIDAYS OF CHRISTMASTIDE are not observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial. Friday abstinence resumes on January 11, 2013, the first Friday after the Epiphany.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE between Helena Sophie Johnson of Washington, D.C. and Jonathan John Peter of Washington, D.C. If any of you know just cause why they may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, you are bidden to declare it. This is the second time of asking. S.G.
2012 DONATIONS . . . All donations, including cash gifts, must be postmarked by December 31, or received in the finance office by noon on December 31, to qualify as a deduction for 2012 tax purposes. Likewise, gifts of stock must be received in the church’s investment account by December 31, 2012. For stock-transfer instructions or other questions, email Aaron Koch or call him at (212) 869-5830, ext. 14.
2013 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . As of December 22, we have only reached 78% of our goal of $450,000.00. Sixty-seven percent of those who made a pledge for 2012 have now done so for 2013. Last week we mailed a reminder to all those who made a pledge last year, but have not yet returned a pledge card for 2013.We urge you to renew your commitment to the parish as soon as you are able. We are also hoping to receive a pledge from those who have never pledged before or those who were not able to make a pledge for 2012! If you have questions, or if you would like to receive a pledge card, please contact the parish office.
THIS WEEK AT THE CATHEDRAL . . . On Saturday, January 5, the diocese will celebrate the episcopate of the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, who will retire as bishop of New York on February 2. The Mass at the cathedral will be at 10:30 AM. Tickets are not required. All are invited. A reception follows the service. Saint Mary’s parish clergy will be attending and they hope many from the parish community will be able to be there too.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . New Year’s Eve, Monday, December 31, Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM. The church and the parish office will close at 2:00 PM . . . Tuesday, January 1, The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Sung Mass 11:00 AM. The church opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 2:00 PM.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Christian Education for children and adults is now on its Christmas break. Wednesday night Bible Study resumes on January 16, Sunday morning classes on January 20 . . . Copies of Saint Mary’s Episcopal Calendar have arrived and may be purchased at Coffee Hour for $5.00 . . . Altar Flowers are needed for January 20 and February 10. If you would like to make a donation, please contact the parish office . . . Confessions during Christmastide are heard by appointment. Father Jim Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, January 12 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 258; Christmas 939.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . Music on Sunday morning at the Solemn Mass is sung by a quartet of singers drawn from the main choir. The setting of the Mass ordinary is Missa Dixit Maria by Hans Leo Hassler (1564–1612). During the Renaissance, many composers wrote “parody” Masses—works that quoted part of an existing work. Hassler, who was born in Nuremberg, is parodying himself here, using his own motet Dixit Maria ad Angelum as the basis for this Mass. The style is simple and conservative, delicate and refined. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Lullay, my liking by Gustav Holst (1874–1934) . . . At the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols on December 30 at 5:00 PM, the choir will sing twentieth-century carols composed by John Joubert (b. 1927), Peter Warlock (1894–1930), Philip Ledger (b. 1937), Elizabeth Poston (1905–1987) and Kenneth Leighton (1929–1988). I will play the organ recital beforehand at 4:40 PM, with works from Olivier Messiaen’s (1908–1992) La Nativité du Seigneur. James Kennerley
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Donations to aid in the post-Hurricane Sandy relief effort within the Diocese of New York continue to be handled by Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York . . . 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.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Saturday, February 2, 2013, 10:30 AM, The Installation of Bishop Andrew M.L. Dietsche as XVI Bishop of New York. All are invited; tickets are not required . . . Super Bowl Party, Sunday, February 3, 2013, 6:00 PM, following Evensong and Benediction.
THEATER AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Puppet Shakespeare, a partner of our resident theater company, the American Globe Theatre, will be performing Puppet Romeo and Juliet, January 9-20, 2013, here at Saint Mary’s. The company has this to say about its upcoming show, “PR&J is a ridiculous romp featuring kung fu, kazoos and hot, hot puppet love.” Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for kids (under 18)/students/seniors/anyone who brings a puppet! To make reservations visit the company website. The company charges securely online via PayPal; tickets may also be purchased at the door, using either cash or credit card.