FROM THE RECTOR: MORE THAN WISE MEN
This year the Epiphany falls on Sunday. The celebration begins with Evening Prayer on Saturday night with psalms and lessons appointed for the feast. The celebration concludes with Sunday Evensong, again with appointed psalms, lessons and the traditional hymn sung at this service, “When Christ’s appearing was made known,” a fifth century text. The Right Reverend Charles E. Jenkins, X Bishop of Louisiana, will preside and preach at the Solemn Mass. I hope you will be able to join us for many reasons. Along with Easter and Pentecost, Epiphany is the third of the greatest feasts in the church’s tradition.
In the late second or early third century Christians in Egypt began to celebrate a feast for Jesus’ birth and his baptism, but in the Eastern Christian communities it would be his baptism that becomes the main focus of the celebration we call “The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek word epiphaneia in the New Testament means “appearance.” It’s usually translated in English as “manifestation” and carries the sense of “disclosure.” At Jesus’ baptism, the Father reveals that Jesus is his Son.
In the West things are different. The first evidence for a celebration of the Epiphany comes from Paris in 361. (It’s worth noting that the first evidence for a December 25 feast of the nativity in the West is from Rome in 354.) In the West, the Epiphany celebrates the visit of the wise men, the miracle at Cana and, to a lesser extent, Jesus’ baptism. In the centuries to come, it is the wise men whose story will come to have the greater place in the celebrations and in the devotional life of the church in Europe.
In the East and in the West, these celebrations emerge as the church is working out its understanding of God’s revelation of God’s self as the Holy Trinity and how we are to speak of Jesus as human and divine. It is worth noting that the earliest gospel appointed for Christmas Day in the West also may be the earliest gospel for Epiphany at Ephesus: the beginning of the gospel of John. (For a survey of current research see: Paul F. Bradshaw and Maxwell E. Johnson, The Origins of Feasts, Fasts, and Seasons in Early Christianity  131-57).
The late Raymond Brown concluded that Matthew and Luke were telling the same story in the birth narratives as they told when they wrote of Jesus’ adult ministry (An Adult Christ at Christmas: Essay on the Three Biblical Christmas Stories  8-9). In the infancy stories Good News is proclaimed, some people believed, some did not. The Good News was proclaimed first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, some believed, some did not. Pilate’s soldiers were not the first sent to kill God’s Son. The gospels from beginning to end “manifest” Jesus and invite more than the adoration of the men from the East. They ask the question Jesus himself asked of the man born blind (John 9:35), “Do you believe in the Son of man?” Stephen Gerth
THE BISHOP OF NEW YORK, along with Bishop Dietsche and Bishop Smith, has written a pastoral letter to the people of the diocese in the wake of the mass shootings that occurred at the end of December. You may read the letter and related materials here.
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Errol, Sharon, Cheryl, Scott, Birgut, Dolores, Richard, Stephanie, Helena, Jonathan, Donna, Michael, George, Judy, Philip, Barbara, Daniel, Eileen, Linda, Arpene, Paulette, priest, and Robert, bishop; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, and Matthew; and for the repose of the souls of Cornelia Dellenbaugh and James LeVeque, priest . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 6: 1892 Colin Mackenzie; 1895 Hermann Obst; 1911 J. Ewer; 1910 John Ott; 1924 Edward Wicker;1936 Florence Loretta Jones; 1949 Lena Blakesley and Donovan Elizabeth; 1950 Claire Travis.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord. 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 third time of asking. S.G.
2013 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . As of January 4, we have only reached 83% of our goal of $450,000.00. Seventy-two percent of those who made a pledge for 2012 have now done so for 2013. We recently 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 . . . The Celebration and Blessing of Marriage for Jonathan Peter and Helena Johnson will be on Saturday, January 12, at 10:00 AM. The Right Reverend John C. Bauerschmidt, bishop of Tennessee, will be celebrant. The Reverend James R. La Macchia, rector, Parish of the Messiah, Auburndale, Massachusetts, will be preacher. All are invited . . . Confessions will not be heard, except by appointment on Saturday, January 5 . . . Father Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, January 12.
WORDS OF THANKS do not begin to recognize the many efforts of so many different people who have helped make Christmas at Saint Mary’s very special this year. I am very aware that so many things done are things unseen, done without anyone asking or knowing. These too are as important as the welcome we were able to give to so many this year and the things we saw and heard in this building. Thank you so much to everyone who made this Christmastide possible. S.G.
VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED . . . The members of the Flower Guild need help on Sunday, January 6, after Coffee Hour, to take down most of the Christmas decorations in the church—the crèche and the wise men remain until after Evensong! The Guild members are a friendly bunch and you’ll be sure to have a good time; and un-decorating goes more quickly than decorating—many hands make light work! If you have questions, please contact Scott Holman.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . On Saturday, January 5, 10:30 AM, a celebration of the episcopate of Bishop Sisk, at the cathedral . . . Kate Bittinger Eikel, the wife of former parishioner Robert Eikel, gave birth to a baby girl on the afternoon of December 31. Virginia is the Eikels’ second child. Robert reports that all are doing well . . . Christian Education for children and adults is still on its Christmas break. Church School resumes on Sunday, January 13. The Wednesday Night Bible Study class resumes on January 16. The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, January 20, at 10:00 AM . . . 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 . . . Our annual Super Bowl Party will take place on Sunday, February 3, after Evensong & Benediction. If you would like to bring food or beverages to share, please contact Grace Bruni. All are welcome! . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 301; Holy Name 43.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary this Sunday is Messa a quattro voci da cappella (1650) by Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643). Monteverdi wrote a great deal of music, both sacred and secular, and served as maestro di cappella of Saint Mark’s, Venice, where he revolutionized a deteriorated music program. This work is composed in what is known as stile antico, or a Palestrina-like polyphonic style that by the early seventeenth century was decidedly old–fashioned. It is one of only two Masses surviving from Monteverdi’s years at Saint Mark’s (he was contracted to compose one each Christmas). Though organ continuo and various instruments typically would have accompanied a performance in Monteverdi’s day (with instruments doubling the vocal parts), this morning organ alone is used. At the ministration of Communion, the choir sings the motet Videntes stellam Magi by Orlande de Lassus (1532–1594) . . . I will play the Sunday organ recital at 4:40 PM, together with Joseph Arndt, director of music at Grace Church, Newark. The recital will consist of music for organ duet, featuring Kenneth Leighton’s magnificent work Martyrs. James Kennerley
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Saturday, January 26, 8:00 PM, Miller Theatre presents New York Polyphony, “Tallis & Byrd: Masses for Uncertain Times.” From the Miller Theatre website, “New York Polyphony returns to Miller’s [early-music] series with a performance of Tallis and Byrd’s uniquely intimate Masses for four voices. Written during a time of religious turbulence in England, these settings of the traditional Latin mass text were intended for modest forces and favor a beautifully simple, straightforward style. Composed late in the sixteenth century, Byrd’s Mass was an act of courage, written for secret use by fellow Catholics forced underground by the prevailing monarchy. The program is rounded out with a handful of brief sacred works from the fifteenth century to the present.” The box office is closed until January 15, but tickets may be purchased online . . . Saturday, February 9, 8 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, music director & James Kennerley, organ soloist. Music by Hovhaness, Jongen and Busoni. Admission is free.
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 . . . Friday, February 1, Eve of the Presentation, Blessing of Candles, Procession & Solemn Mass, 6:00 PM . . . Saturday, February 2, 10:30 AM, Installation of Bishop Andrew M.L. Dietsche as bishop of New York at the cathedral . . . Super Bowl Party, Sunday, February 3, 6:00 PM, following Evensong and Benediction . . . February 13, Ash Wednesday.
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.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . On Monday, January 7, at 5:00 PM, New York Polyphony will conduct an open rehearsal in the lobby of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University, 2960 Broadway (at 116th Street), New York, NY 10027. Admission is free. The quartet will be rehearsing John Plummer’s Missa sine nomine, which will have its New York premiere at a performance here at Saint Mary’s on January 26. For more information, you may call the Miller Theatre at 212-854-1633.