From the Rector | December 10, 2021

Weekend Digest 2020:1
December 10, 2020

Greetings, St. B’s Family —

Perhaps you noticed, during the pandemic I got into a habit of sending you a midweek check-in every week because there was always something to report, an announcement to make, prayers to request. Starting this week, I’m going to switch it up a little for a while — the midweek email from St. B’s will be the E-News with info and links for all that’s coming up around the parish, and my personal check-in will move to most Fridays. Moving it closer to the weekend allows me to share information that may not be as time-sensitive but that I hope you’ll find intriguing, and then you have the weekend to check it out if you’re so inclined. It may be something about one of the parts of our Barque of St. Bartholomew, something I’m reading, a question that’s nagging me, or maybe just a podcast I’m listening to. We’re calling it the Rector’s Weekend Di·gest, seeing as how a digest is a compilation or summary of material or information. Whatever that information is from week to week, I hope you’ll find something that catches your imagination.

For this inaugural edition, let’s do start with something from the Barque — You’ll remember our sails are Evangelism, Serving the Poor, and Worship, each supported by a mast of Formation and held in the hull of our Community. In this year, when we’ve been forced out of our building, which we all love, I’ve thought a lot about the church’s essence and our essential work of worship and serving in the world. In what way are we — the Church — our building, our physical structure? And in what way might the pandemic push us out into the world to do the work God’s given us to do? 

Way back last December, in a longread for The Point Magazine called “A Serious House,” James Chappel wrote:

The earliest and purest Christians had no inkling of the yawning granite structures that would one day symbolize the faith. For them, the church was ambulatory, representing the spirit of Christian assembly operating within social structures, like yeast in dough, rather than confronting them from without. Instead of viewing the church as a “fortified castle,” [Jacques] Maritain urged, “we must think of an army of stars thrown across the sky.” Maritain called for the church to spill its way back into the streets, bringing the mission of Christian love and even revolution with it . . . . Catholics on the ground should be working with anyone, atheists included, in the pursuit of a vision he thought that many shared: a society of tolerance, diversity and freedom. 

[In the church of Chappel’s youth, he says] I remember a place where imperfect people gathered in an attempt to make sense of an imperfect world, and where old words and old music combined to create something like beauty. Some people can find these things in secular places, but many cannot. And the list of secular institutions in which racially and economically diverse populations come together to confront moral questions with any degree of seriousness is not a long one . . . . We need now, more than ever, the sort of space that [poet Philip] Larkin presumed to be a relic of the past: “a serious house on serious earth,” and one “proper to grow wise in.”

I love that image — an army of stars thrown across the sky. In this season of lengthening shadows, we call Advent, and my prayer has been for us to be found that way — wherever the pandemic throws us, that our worship will form us, our Christian Formation offerings will shape us, such that we want nothing more than to go with God’s light into dark places. 

While I’m rereading that piece and typing those words, I’m sitting by the fire in the Rectory, listening to Advent music, which I do a lot. Our staff put together a fantastic “Come and Behold” Playlist on Spotify (I bet you can’t tell which staff member recommended which songs. Find the links >>>here). For more traditional tunes from our Anglican patrimony, the church where I served in Boston has a playlist on Soundcloud >>>here, and here’s another one I love that I found on Spotify >>>here.

And speaking of the Rectory — Here’s your weekly snippet of theological miscellany: Many Protestant church communities don’t maintain homes for their clergy, preferring to include a housing allowance as part of their compensation. Others, however, still do. For instance, Roman Catholic priests, having taken a vow of poverty, own little property and must live in what the church provides. Here are some terms for clergy housing:

Parsonage – Many protestant churches
Rectory – Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Church of England
Manse – Presbyterian, Lutheran
Vicarage – Church of England
Episcopal Residence – Methodist bishops

And my personal favorite –

Palace – Old term for the residence of an Anglican or Catholic bishop, one still used for Lambeth Palace, the London residence of our chief prelate, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Boy, those were the days, huh? 

From our palace to yours, I hope you have a restful and blessed weekend!

Fr. Sammy

P.S. Don’t forget to drop by Kathy Edwards’ pop-up boutique: Original art, home accessories, candles, jewelry, notecards, and clothing. All proceeds benefit New Life Restoration Ministries. Items are not individually priced — you decide how much to pay. She’s open during daylight hours, Monday-Saturday, December 11-18 at her home, 1110 Stonewall Drive.

Published by Fr. Sammy Wood

Interim Rector of St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church in Times Square

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