The Angelus

Volume 16, Number 5

FROM THE RECTOR: CHRISTMASTIDE

This is my fifteenth Christmas at Saint Mary’s and it has been a very happy one for me and, I think it’s fair for me to say, the parish community. So much of what makes Saint Mary’s special is on offer at this time of the year, along with unexpected challenges and joys. As rector, I would like again to say thank you to all who made it possible for so many to worship here. From the first sounds of brass and organ before the 5:00 PM Christmas Eve Mass through the Angelus at the crèche at the end of the Solemn Mass on Christmas Day the joy, beauty and glory of God’s people were everywhere. And there’s more to come.

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Volume 16, Number 4

FROM THE RECTOR: CHRISTMAS COMES

Few celebrate Easter Day early. Easter has Lent and Holy Week to shield it. Christmas Day only has Advent which, despite attempts in different ways to subvert it, continues to offer opportunities to prepare joyfully to celebrate the birth of Christ. I invite you to join us on the Fourth Sunday of Advent for the regular services of the church.

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Volume 16, Number 3

FROM THE RECTOR: OUR DOORS ARE OPEN

I often read the weekly pew sheet from Grace Church, Joondalup, Perth, Australia, where Father David Wood, who was with us at Saint Mary’s in September, is the parish priest. I like to read what he writes. This week he quoted a portion of Pope Francis’s recent “exhortation,” Gaudium Evangelii (“The Joy of the Gospel”). I think the pope’s words are worth sharing:

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Volume 16, Number 2

FROM THE RECTOR: WELCOME, BISHOP DIETSCHE

Every three years the church requires one of the bishops of the diocese to make a formal visitation of every parish. This visitation includes presiding and preaching at the Holy Eucharist, reviewing the parish register, and receiving information about the state of the congregation and its clergy. On Monday, December 9, the Right Reverend Andrew M.L. Dietsche will make his first visitation of Saint Mary’s since he succeeded the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk as bishop of New York on February 2, 2012.

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Volume 16, Number 1

FROM THE RECTOR: PREPARATION

I’ve learned enough about Advent to know that the history of this short season is as complex and rich as that of any season of the church year. Somewhat surprisingly, I think it’s fair to say that the calendar and lectionary reforms of the 1970s have only increased the complexity. Advent now largely repeats the themes of judgment and of the end of time that occur every year on the Sundays just before the new church year begins—this didn’t happen in the old Prayer Book.

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Volume 15, Number 52

FROM THE RECTOR: HIS KINGDOM IS FOR EVER

The Prayer Book lectionary’s three-year cycle takes lessons from Matthew, John and Luke for the last Sunday of the church year, commonly called, “Christ the King.” This is the third year of the cycle. On Sunday we hear from Luke’s gospel the dialogue among Jesus and the two criminals with whom he is crucified. Next year we will hear the Great Judgment from Matthew, and the following year John’s account of Pilate saying to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

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Volume 15, Number 51

From Father Smith: “And which of you by being anxious…”

Last Sunday morning, I officiated at Matins at 8:30 AM, but, somewhat unusually, I was not scheduled to celebrate any of the Masses; and so, between 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM, I was free to do a number of the other things that need doing on a Sunday morning at Saint Mary’s. I helped to set up for the Solemn Mass.

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Volume 15, Number 50

FROM SISTER DEBORAH FRANCIS:
PRAYING FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM

As many Saint Marians know, I recently had the opportunity to travel to Israel and the West Bank, with a parish group from New Jersey. When I first told people that I was going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, they expressed concern for my safety. I must admit I had some doubts myself. The terrible violence of Syria’s civil war continues unabated and there have been concerns that the violence might spread to neighboring countries. That, of course, did not turn out to be the case.

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Volume 15, Number 49

FROM THE RECTOR: MONEY

I’ve just finished reading The Plantagenets [2013] by Dan Jones, a British author. The book received good reviews. I enjoyed reading it and it made me want to learn more about the 254-year period the Plantagenet family ruled England—and sometimes large regions of Ireland, Scotland and France. Another way to put this is to say the book helped me realize how little I know about a great deal of British history, despite a lifelong interest in history generally.

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Volume 15, Number 48

FROM THE RECTOR: SUNDAY, SAINTS & SOULS

This is one of those great weeks at Saint Mary’s—great every year, and different depending on how the days of the week fall. We begin with Sunday, of course, this year, October 27. It’s observed with the regular schedule of services, as are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday—except that Monday is the Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude, and there are two Eucharists, one at 12:10 PM and one at 6:20 PM.

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Volume 15, Number 47

FROM THE RECTOR: NATURE AND NURTURE

A week ago an article in the Wall Street Journal caught my attention, “Genes Often Get Shuffled in Our DNA Deck” (October 11, 2013) by Robert M. Sapolsky, a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University. It seems that “strict genetic inheritability” isn’t quite as strict as we thought. He writes, “. . . bacteria and immune systems have gene-transposition races, with the former shuffling genes to come up with means to evade immune systems and the latter shuffling to get the means to destroy novel bacteria.”

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Volume 15, Number 46

FROM THE RECTOR: RE-SEE

The other morning a word that isn’t in the dictionary came out of my mouth: “re-see.” Without thinking I used it to mean “to look again,” in the same way we use “rehear.” I smiled when I realized what I had done. It made me recall a lesson I was privileged to learn from a woman who became a parishioner when I was rector in Indiana.

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Volume 15, Number 45

FROM THE RECTOR: EVENING GRACE

When I was in San Francisco in September I attended Daily Evening Prayer twice at Grace Cathedral. Quite frankly, I was very glad to see so many of the cathedral clergy in attendance both days. The service was different in some ways from what we do here, but I felt very much at home at Grace. It was Evening Prayer from the Prayer Book. I want to tell you about what I experienced.

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Volume 15, Number 44

FROM THE RECTOR: SAINT MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS

This Sunday is the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels. Our guest preacher will be the Reverend Dr. David Graeme Wood, parish priest, Grace Church, Joondalup, Perth, Australia. Father Wood has been staying in the rectory this month and has been helping with weekday Masses—

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Volume 15, Number 43

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.

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Volume 15, Number 42

FROM FATHER SMITH: THE GLORY OF GOD SHALL BE REVEALED 

Many of the lives of the saints begin with a story about conversion. To be more accurate, many saint’s lives begin by introducing the reader to an apparently average sort of person, a person who is more or less involved in the same sorts of things as are his neighbors. Then, then, suddenly, out of the blue, something happens and there is a change of direction, a reversal, a turning back or a turning toward;

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Volume 15, Number 41

FROM THE INTERIM MUSIC DIRECTOR: MUSIC AS GIFT

Every church-going Christian has heard repeatedly the scriptural imperatives to “make a joyful noise before the Lord,” and to “sing a new song unto the Lord.” We are told in the Second Book of the Chronicles, “to make one sound of music to be heard in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord” (5:13). This passage is contained within a description of the great service of consecration held in Israel’s first Temple, a service that involved cymbals, harps, 150 trumpets, and a sufficient number of singers to balance it all! No mention of the budget for this event is given! Exactly what form this music took we do not know precisely, but, that music was an essential element of Temple worship, we know absolutely.

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Volume 15, Number 40

FROM THE RECTOR: TRUSTING THE SPIRIT

I’ve just started reading a book by Allegra di Bonaventura who teaches at Yale, For Adam’s Sake: A Family Saga in Colonial New England (2013). It’s based on an extraordinary diary by a Connecticut shipwright, Joshua Hempstead (1678–1758). The diary is about Hempstead’s life and the world in which he lives, but di Bonaventura’s focus is on the life of his enslaved servant Adam Jackson (c.1701–c.1764).

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Volume 15, Number 39

FROM THE RECTOR: ANOTHER DEATH IN MY FAMILY

My mother’s younger brother, Donny Matthews, died on Wednesday. He died in the house he himself built in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and where he and his wife Edna reared their three children. He was seventy-seven years old. Like my mother, my uncle suffered in recent years from Alzheimer’s disease. His wife, three children, and their families will miss him terribly.

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Volume 15, Number 38

FROM THE RECTOR: THE YEAR AHEAD

I think the average member of the Church would be amazed at how much time rectors spend on the details of worship. One of the significant downsides to General Convention’s ongoing liturgical revisions since 1979 has been to create what can only be called calendar and lectionary chaos. There are so many options now that if you care even a little about worship you have to spend a lot of time sorting it out. This is especially true in parishes where there are daily services.

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