Rector’s Chronicle: September 2011

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

I associate this time of year with college days: the excitement at the start of a new season and the happiness at seeing friendly faces not seen since the spring. There is an old rock ‘n’ roll song (child of the sixties, Class of ’68) which plays in my head, “See you in September.” Well, here we go.

The impact of Hurricane Irene still unfolds. While the city and Saint Thomas were largely spared in Manhattan, the metropolitan community, Long Island, New Jersey, Upstate New York, and New England, especially Vermont, were not – and they are still suffering. Some, like the city, had a downpour; some had high winds; some had both, resulting in power outages and floods. Fr. Spurlock, three other adults and ten members of our Youth Group flew safely to Tennessee, leaving the city just before and returning just after the storm; they enjoyed sunny skies and a memorable experience with the Karen community at All Saints Church, Smyrna. The organ blower, beautifully restored, was installed days before the storm’s arrival; we’ll be hearing the results this month. Following the Mayor’s lead, we cancelled services at Saint Thomas, Sunday, August 28, and Monday as well because of staff transportation problems. A crew of eight spent Saturday night the 27th patrolling for and dealing with leaks. The vigil included some imaginative, valiant work by our custodial staff, stopping two serious leaks due to overflowing drains, one in the south gallery and Chantry Chapel and the other in the parish house dining room. We celebrated a simple Mass in the by-then mopped and dried Chantry at 9 o’clock Sunday morning. Although none of us would want to have to do it again, it was a good team experience. The Choir School also survived well, where some staff had a similar time, including a Eucharist. Though the Body of Christ was scattered for safety’s sake, the Body of Christ was offered and consecrated as ever at Saint Thomas on the Lord’s Day. Thus August went out in a great storm, and may the Lord provide fairer weather and times for the rest of the fall.

TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11

September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of that terrible day, is also the return of the full Choir of Men and Boys. In the morning there will be the regular appointed Sunday lessons; but we shall be mindful of the anniversary in both the Rector’s sermon and in the music for the day, chosen for remembrance of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. At 4 o’clock, Jon Meacham – former Vestryman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Executive Editor of Random House – will give an address for the sermon, while the lessons and music will address the perspective of our nation. I would encourage you to attend both services. See the website, Latest News. We are preparing a commemorative booklet, For Comfort and Support, which will include Saint Thomas documents from 2001-2002 and from this tenth anniversary. The booklet will be available shortly after the tenth anniversary observance.

THE SAINT THOMAS WEBSITE

More and more I realize the wonderful utility of our website. It presents the panoply of life at Saint Thomas Church, and by link, Saint Thomas Choir School. All choral services are webcast. Almost every sermon for the Sundays since September 11, 2001, is available as a text; many are also available to hear by recorded webcast. All our programs are presented, including the latest news of the parish. The website is more up to the minute than our weekly printed Sunday leaflets. Communication has been transformed into something approximating, yet because of accessibility, surpassing, a media outlet. I draw your attention to some features for this September and fall.

  • Check on the Home Page in the upper right hand corner for the various categories of Saint Thomas life: About Us, Worship, Music, Theology, Calendar (this is the backbone of the whole website), Youth, Choir School, Giving, and Webcasts. Start clicking and you’re off on an adventure. You can reference what’s up and coming, as well as what we still savor from past performances, in every department of our life.
  • See the new video on the website, an appeal for the organ, featuring Jon Meacham. It is brief and clear, right to the point.
  • There are weekly audio messages from the Rector (called Rector’s Message) throughout the whole year and from the Director of Music during the full choir season (called Weekly Music Notes). For yours truly, this allows an opportunity to speak of a wide range of topics of interest that might not make it into sermons or Rector’s Chronicles.

EVERY MEMBER CANVASS

Soon you will hear, by letter, by brochure, by sermon, and by greetings, about The Every Member Canvass for 2012. The theme is the Lord’s word to his people in the Book of Malachi 3:10: “Put me to the test,” a challenge to risk sacrificial giving (tithing, actually) and see if taking God’s invitation does in fact open the doors of heaven and pour down blessings. The 2011 Canvass was the best ever. The financial year ahead looks challenging; yet can we equal or exceed 2011? Lord, give us the grace.

BOOK REPORTS

With a visit from grandchildren during my July vacation, I didn’t read the usual number of novels; however, the kids introduced me to some splendid as well as side-splitting children’s stories from The Girl Who Could Fly to collections of Calvin and Hobbes. I commend three books. First there is Revelation, one of the series of CJ Sansom’s superb Matthew Shardlake murder mysteries from the period of Henry VIII. This is in the series which begins with Dissolution. Second there is Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. This is a story about prejudice, love, and courage in the modern UK. The prejudice is within and between the Pakistani and old English communities. The love is between two superb characters, both widowed sixty-something’s from each community. The courage is shown by each of them; but the Major’s last stand is a hair-raising wonder. Third, but supremely, I finally read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. What a great character! What an amazing plot! Where have I been all these years? Well, better late than never. It will be good to see you in September.

Faithfully your Priest and Rector,

Andrew C. Mead