FROM THE RECTOR: CHRIST’S BAPTISM
The 1928 Prayer Book introduced some, but not so very many, changes to the worship of the Episcopal Church. One of those changes is easy for me to remember: brides would no longer promise “to obey” their husbands. Another change: Episcopalians would now pray for the departed, “grant them continual growth in thy love and service.” Less remembered is the introduction of a gospel account of Jesus’ baptism to Sunday worship—on the Second Sunday after the Epiphany. Anglicans other than Episcopalians—and as far as I know, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics—never heard an account of Jesus being baptized until the calendar reforms of the 1970s.
Mark is the oldest and most straightforward of those accounts: “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan” (1:9). Matthew 3:13-17 follows Mark pretty closely. Luke 3:21-22 says less than Matthew. In John’s gospel, God has revealed to John the Baptist that the one on whom the Spirit “descends and remains” is the Son of God (1:33-34). There is no baptism, but the Baptist sees the Spirit descend and remain on Jesus.
There is no record of the disciples being baptized, but Luke recounts in the Acts of the Apostles the gifts of the Holy Spirit being given to the twelve on the day of Pentecost (2:1-4). Paul too would write about the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12 and, famously, 1 Corinthians 1:1-13). As the second century begins, baptism (which includes the reception of the Eucharist) is associated by believers with being born again of water and the Spirit. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
The liturgical movement of the twentieth century gave great weight to Paul’s words about baptism in Romans, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (6:2-3). Nothing wrong with that image—dying and rising again, just as Christ did; however, the more widespread and more ancient understanding may have been that of John.
Epiphany, after Easter and Pentecost, is the earliest of the Christian festivals. It celebrates, variously, Jesus’ birth, the visit of the wise men, his baptism and his first miracle at Cana. Overall, I think our present Prayer Book reflects this richness pretty well. The challenge continues to be experiencing and understanding baptism as the moment when we are reborn. In the water of baptism our lives are truly changed. We become children of God. We become those who are in this world, but not of this world. Please join us Sunday for the celebration of the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR Sharon, Helena, Jonathan, Errol, Robert, Eleanor, Scott, Tiffany, Wendy, Stephen, Dorian, Mary, Dolores, Richard, Donna, Michael, George, Judy, Philip, Barbara, Cheryl, Daniel, Eileen, Linda, Arpene, Rebecca, deacon, and Paulette, priest; for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Elizabeth, Nicholas, and Matthew; and for the repose of the souls of Margaret Hilpert and Charles Cooper . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . January 13: 1886 Margaret McClelland; 1891 Angelo Bassett Prentice; 1899 Louisa Myers; 1916 Hugo Hoffman; 1931 Emma N. McKean; 1950 Louise Gerhold; 1951 Henrietta Schaefer; 1994 Thomas Holz.
A NOTE FROM DEACON WEINER TOMPKINS . . . Dear Friends—For a little over the past year I have suffered from a lung condition, pulmonary sarcoidosis. At times it has required attention, but until just before Christmas I have been able to do everything as usual and to continue to serve in the parish. I am hoping I will be able to return to Saint Mary’s by the end of January. In the meantime, I am very glad Mother Mary Jett has already completed the first formal course for working in the atrium, and I know she will work well with the children for the next few weeks. Please keep me in your prayers, as you are in mine. Rebecca Weiner Tompkins
IN THIS TRANSITORY LIFE . . . Charles Cooper, a member of our congregation who attended the noonday services, died suddenly on New Year’s Day. Please keep Charles, his partner, Robert Burrows, their family and friends, and all who mourn in your prayers.
THE ORDINARY FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
2013 STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN . . . As of January 8, we have only reached 84% of our goal of $450,000.00. Seventy-four 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. If you have questions, or if you would like to receive a pledge card, please contact the parish office.
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. All are invited . . . Church School for younger children resumes this coming Sunday, January 13, at 9:45 AM in the Atrium on the second floor of the Parish House . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class resumes on January 16 at 6:30 PM. The class will continue its close reading of the Lord’s Prayer . . . The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins Friday, January 18, with the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle, Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Noonday Prayer 12:00 PM, Mass 12:10 PM, Evening Prayer 6:00 PM, Mass 6:20 PM . . . Father Pace will hear confessions on Saturday, January 12. Father Gerth will hear confessions on Saturday, January 19.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Adult Forum resumes on Sunday, January 20, at 10:00 AM with guest speaker the Reverend Ralph McMichael, director, Center for the Eucharist, St. Louis, Missouri . . . We continue to be thankful for the many hours given by the Flower Guild and others for the decoration and clean-up of the church during Christmastide! . . . 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! . . . The sisters will be at the convent in Mendham for Chapter Week beginning Monday evening, January 14. Sister Deborah Frances returns to the parish on Friday, January 18. Sister Laura Katharine will be away on Friday, January 18, and Saturday, January 19, to give a workshop for the Brotherhood of Saint Gregory . . . James Kennerley will be on vacation from Tuesday, January 15. He will return to the parish office on Thursday, January 24 . . . Father Smith will be away on retreat from Friday, January 18, through Sunday, January 20 . . . Attendance: Epiphany 230.
CPR & AED TRAINING . . . To ensure that we have qualified people to operate our in-house Heartsaver AED (“Automated External Defibrillator”), in the event it is needed, we are required to train a group of people in the use of the AED at least every two years. This year’s training will take place on Saturday, January 26, from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM. We need three more people to meet our group minimum of eight. If you are available, able and/or willing to take this training which will also include a certification in performing CPR, please notify Aaron Koch in the Parish Office.
FROM THE MUSIC DIRECTOR . . . The setting of the Mass ordinary this Sunday is Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd (c. 1540–1623). Byrd was a faithful Roman Catholic in Protestant Elizabethan England. In spite of the political difficulties he faced due to his faith, his career flourished because of his protection by the queen, a great admirer of Byrd’s music. The composer was a distinguished gentleman of the queen’s Chapel Royal, which at that time was the greatest honor a musician in England could receive. Much of his Latin music, however, was written for clandestine Catholic liturgies in private homes (including this work, among his most tender and beautiful), and therefore has a somewhat intimate character. . . . On Sunday afternoon at 4:40 PM, Ashley Lee, from Tenafly, New Jersey, will play the organ recital, which will include works by Bach and Alain . . . While I am away on vacation, Enrico Contenti will play the Wednesday 12:10 Sung Masses on January 16 and 23. On Sunday, January 20, Tony Furnivall will play and conduct at Solemn Mass and Solemn Evensong. 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, 8:00 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 . . . For information about how to volunteer for post-hurricane relief efforts in Brooklyn and Staten Island, please visit the website of the Hurricane Sandy Relief Kitchen . . . 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 . . . The Book Sale will resume on Sunday, January 13. All proceeds benefit those in need. Thank you to all those who have donated books for the sale. Your generosity is most appreciated.
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 . . . Stations of the Cross, Fridays in Lent at 6:30 PM.
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 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! Performances are Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sunday at 2:00 PM. 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 . . . At the Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway, at 61st Street, More Precious than Fine Gold: The English Bible in the Gilded Age: “The spirit of renewal that permeated the visual arts during the Gilded Age and is embodied in Louis Comfort Tiffany’s work was also manifest in the interconnected fields of Bible translation and Bible publication. The exhibition explores its impact on the text itself of the English Bible and on the design, printing and illustration of the volumes that made it accessible to the public. The 20 volumes on display in this exhibition include mainstream versions, such as the English Revised New Testament of 1881 and the American Standard Version of 1901, and innovative or unusual ones, such as Ballentine’s ‘Modern American Bible’ or Julia Smith’s Bible, the first woman to translate the entire text of the Scriptures. Also on display are Bibles illustrated by famous artists such as Gustave Doré and James Tissot and limited editions produced by private presses such as William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, the Doves Press, and the Essex House.” Closed Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM; Thursday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.