FROM THE RECTOR: DOWN AND UP
This past week I was away from the parish to attend the semi-annual workshop of Leadership in Ministry that I’ve attended since the spring of 1997. The workshop is held at the Lost River Retreat Center in Hardy County, West Virginia. I’ve known that place since 1980, when it was bought by the church where my uncle, Lawrence Matthews, served as senior pastor for many years. Larry, who retired from Vienna Baptist Church, Vienna, Virginia in 1998, was the founder of these workshops, which were designed to be affordable for clergy who wanted to study Bowen Family Systems Theory. Larry retired from the workshops in 2010 and I’m really glad they have continued.
There is one break in the schedule: Tuesday afternoon from about 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The weather there on Tuesday was as good as I ever remember it. It was warm in the sun, cool in the shade. There was a light breeze, a clear sky and no flies or mosquitoes. Sometimes when we are there for this course in September there are many signs of fall; but this week it was a perfect end-of-summer day. I spent my break walking by myself down the mountain, down Mill Gap Road, to the main road in the valley and walking back up again. It’s two miles down and two miles up—and the two miles up are “up” enough to count as a decent cardio workout.
The walking itself is a little bittersweet. Until a few years ago I could jog down and up the hill—and I am never able to forget that when I see that hill now. It’s a reminder that life has continued to move on for me. The walk on Tuesday (and the workout) also gave my mind some time to reflect on the things that have changed since I was last there in March. It’s a “Family Systems Theory” conference—and I couldn’t help but think about my family.
You may remember that my mother died at the end of April; her younger brother died at the end of August. The day after his funeral we learned that my father, who fell and broke his hip at the end of June, cannot go home again. He may well be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. A couple of weeks ago he moved to a nursing home in Dover, New Hampshire. I’m going up to see him and to visit my stepmother on Tuesday, September 24, and coming home Wednesday evening, September 25. My brother and his family live close and I will see them as well.
It’s mostly much easier to walk down hills than to climb them. But, I know my body and my mind really like me to do the climbing. Nothing clears the head, at least for me, like exercise. Sometimes one stumbles. (I’ll never forget the perversity of seriously twisting my ankle while jogging after lunch on the bridle path around the Central Park reservoir ten hours before I boarded a plane to Israel—the pace of my pilgrimage was slowed down considerably.) But learning to press on, learning to enjoy the work, along with learning when to stop, is one of the fundamental natural processes of our humanity.
Murray Bowen (1913-1990) never got around to writing much about the spiritual side of life—for whatever reason, he chose not to make the time to do it. But I think that what he proposed about our emotional lives—that they mirror the biology of our bodies—is also true of our spiritual lives. Just as a child needs challenges in order to develop, both physically and emotionally, so our spiritual lives need challenges, the challenge of living and dying.
There are many unsatisfactory things about the Book of Job—God allowing Satan to kill those Job loved and to hurt him in so many ways. Ultimately, Job accepts that God simply does whatever he wants to do (Job 42:1-6). Along the way, Job perceives and proclaims what for Christians will be the heart of it all, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27). It is the challenge of our human condition that gives us faith, like Job, to confess our hope in our Redeemer in the face of living with things we don’t understand. Stephen Gerth
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR James, Justin, Dick, Takeem, Charles, Christian, David, Lonnie, Barbara, Linda, Vincent, Albert, Sean, Babak, Tyler, Mary, Casey, Eloise, Sharon, Arpene, and Paulette, priest and for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty, especially Alex, Elizabeth, Ben, and Daniel . . . GRANT THEM PEACE . . . September 22: 1950 John Harper Mitchell.
FRIDAY ABSTINENCE . . . The ordinary Fridays of the year are observed by special acts of discipline and self-denial in commemoration of the crucifixion of the Lord.
I PUBLISH THE BANNS OF MARRIAGE between S. Clark Mitchell of New York, New York, and David Lapham, of New York, New York. 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.
THIS WEEK AT SAINT MARY’S . . . The Board of Trustees will meet on Monday, September 23, at 6:30 PM . . . September 25, 6:30 PM, Wednesday Night Bible Study Class, Saint Joseph’s Hall . . . Confessions will be heard on Saturday, September 21, by Father Jay Smith, and on Saturday, September 28, by Mother Mary Julia Jett.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Christian education for young children, begins its 2013-2014 season on Sunday, October 6, at 9:45 AM, in the Atrium on the second floor of the Parish House. For more information, please speak to Deacon Rebecca Weiner Tompkins . . . Parishioner Reha Sterbin has been working with a number of Saint Marians, making short videos for the NALT (“Not All Like That”) Christians Project, a platform for Christians to proclaim their belief in full equality for LGBT people. You can visit the project website for more information and to see the videos that have already been made and posted. Please contact Reha if you would like to be involved . . . Anthony Jones, a former member of the parish, is to be ordained deacon on Saturday, October 5, at 10:00 AM at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, 50 Cathedral Avenue, Garden City, New York. The members of Saint Mary’s are invited to attend. Please keep Anthony in your prayers . . . The Rector will be away from the parish September 20-22. He returns to the rectory Sunday evening, September 22. He will also be away September 24-25. He returns to the rectory Wednesday evening, September 25, and to the office on Thursday, September 26 . . . Attendance: Last Sunday 179.
MUSIC THIS WEEK . . . Johann Ernst Eberlin (1702–1762) was a German composer and organist whose works bridge the period between the Baroque and Classical eras. A near-contemporary and friend of Leopold Mozart, Eberlin was a versatile composer, exerting great influence on succeeding generations, particularly with his sacred compositions. Eberlin was appointed to an alternate organist post at the Salzburg Cathedral in 1726, but his real breakthrough came in 1727 when he became the organist for Count Leopold von Firmian (then Archbishop of Salzburg). He reached the peak of his career when he was the organist for Archbishop Andreas Jakob von Dietrichstein. By 1749, Eberlin had risen in rank at the Cathedral and at the Salzburg Court, and was appointed Kapellmeister (“director of music”) for both, under the Archbishop of Salzburg. Five years later he was given the title of “Princely Steward” in recognition of his reputation as a composer-musician in Salzburg. Eberlin maintained his renown in the last years of his career and remained quite active up to the time of his death in 1762. Eberlin produced more than ninety works for the stage, many of which were performed at the Salzburg Court. He produced over 300 church compositions, including Masses, psalm settings, and hymns, as well as numerous organ pieces and other works, but the only compositions published during his lifetime were his keyboard fugues. Though he has been largely forgotten, recent performances and recordings of his church music have convinced some that he may be substantially underrated. At the ministration of Holy Communion, soprano Brittany Palmer will sing the aria, “Hear ye, Israel,” from the oratorio, Elijah, by German composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847). Mark Peterson
AN INVITATION . . . On Saturday, October 5, at 2:30 PM, parishioners Clark Mitchell and David Lapham are to be married in the church. They would like to extend an invitation to all the members of the parish to join in the celebration that day. A reception in Saint Joseph’s Hall follows the liturgy and all are welcome.
ADULT EDUCATION . . . The Wednesday Night Bible Study Class continues on September 25, at 6:30 PM, in Saint Joseph’s Hall. The class, which is led by Father Jay Smith, will be reading the Acts of the Apostles this year. All are welcome. No prior preparation is necessary. The class will not meet on October 16 or November 6.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR . . . Sunday, September 29, Saint Michael & All Angels, Morning Prayer 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, the Reverend Dr. David Graeme Wood, preacher . . . Sunday, October 6, Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Sung Matins 8:30 AM, Mass 9:00 AM & 10:00 AM, Solemn Mass 11:00 AM, with full choir, Solemn Evensong & Benediction 5:00 PM. Church School for young children resumes at 9:45 AM. The Adult Forum resumes at 1:00 PM (note later time on this day) . . . Friday, October 18, Saint Luke the Evangelist, Mass 12:10 PM and 6:20 PM.
CONCERTS AT SAINT MARY’S . . . Friday, October 18, 7:00 PM, Organ Recital, Graham Blyth, recitalist . . . Saturday, October 19, 8:00 PM, New York Repertory Orchestra, David Leibowitz, conductor & music director. Program: Bohuslav Martinů, Memorial to Lidice; Franz Joseph Haydn, Cello Concerto in D Major; Vincent d’Indy, Symphony No. 2. Admission is free. A $10.00 donation at the door is suggested and welcomed. For more information, please visit the NYRO website.
THE VISUAL ARTS PROJECT (VAP) . . . We are very pleased, and honored, to be able to show some of the work of Toussaint Auguste in the Gallery in Saint Joseph’s Hall beginning on Sunday. Mr. Auguste, who regularly worships with us here at Saint Mary’s, was born in Léogâne, Haiti, in 1925. He was active in the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti (L’Eglise Episcopale d’Haiti) as a lay reader and a teacher before becoming a painter in the late 1940s. He was among the early painters working at the Centre d'Art in Port-au-Prince. Mr. Auguste is considered to be one of Haiti’s “First Generation Masters.” Examples of his work can be found in many museums, including the permanent collections of the Musée d'Art Haitien du College Saint Pierre in Port-au-Prince, the Milwaukee Museum of Art, and the Davenport Museum of Art in Iowa. Mr. Auguste also painted two of the murals in the Episcopal diocese’s Cathédrale Sainte Trinité in Port-au-Prince, “The Flight into Egypt” and “The Temptation of Adam and Eve.” (In the latter image, the serpent was depicted in semi-human form, with “Medusan” hair and serpentine legs.) The cathedral murals were executed in 1950 and 1951 and Mr. Auguste moved to the United States shortly thereafter. All of the cathedral murals were painted in an indigenous style and used Haitian people, scenery, vegetation, furniture and architecture as models to depict the Biblical scenes. The murals, an important part of Haiti’s cultural patrimony, were tragically destroyed, along with much of the cathedral itself, in the earthquake of January 12, 2010. (Léogâne, Mr. Auguste’s birthplace, was also badly damaged in the earthquake.) Readers of the Angelus can find out more about the murals here and here (the download times on the latter website are slow, but the images are particularly clear); the terrible destruction caused by the 2010 earthquake is described in a New York Times article still available online. Information about the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti—the largest diocese in the Episcopal Church—is available here, in both English and French. A short article about the cathedral is available on the Episcopal Church website. The article provides information about how to make a donation to the effort to rebuild the cathedral. José Vidal
OUTREACH AT SAINT MARY’S . . . We are already gratefully accepting donations of warm clothing, as well as new, unopened packets of underwear and socks, especially white cotton socks. We send some items of clothing to the Saint Clement’s Food Pantry. Other items are kept here for distribution to those in need . . . The Book Sale continues this week. All donations are used to help those in need.
AWAY FROM THE PARISH . . . At the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA), 1865 Broadway at 61st Street, October 18, 2013–February 16, 2014, “Sacred Visions: Nineteenth-Century Biblical Art from the Dahesh Museum. Collection. Comprised of approximately thirty works of art, [this exhibition] highlights how biblical subject matter was embraced within the academies of nineteenth-century Europe. Historically ranked at the top of the Academy’s hierarchy of genres, biblical depictions of both Old and New Testament subjects enjoyed a resurgence in the nineteenth century. This renewed interest may be attributed to several factors, including the developing field of biblical archaeology and the advent of photography, which produced travel books of the Holy Land. During this century of political and religious upheaval, artists—and the larger societies of which they were a part—looked to the Bible to provide inspiration, often in the form of allegory, for contemporary circumstances.” Visit the museum website for more information.