News from Saint Thomas Church for the Week of December 22, 2019

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In this week’s news…

A Message from the Rector

Rector Turner
The Reverend Canon Carl Turner

Dear Friends,

Attendance at our liturgies and concerts this Advent continues to surprise us. Yesterday’s attendance at the concert by the choristers exceeded the attendance at the Messiah concerts last week! We had to stop selling tickets and the Church was packed. We welcomed large numbers at the last two Sunday’s liturgies – Advent is certainly a time of expectation and hope.

This Sunday morning, we will hold our last Advent choral service with the Gentlemen of the Choir singing the mass of Advent 4 and with some beautiful congregational Advent hymns and Carols. It will be Ben Sheen’s last Sunday Eucharist with us and there will be a special coffee hour after the service. Come and enjoy the peace and beauty of Advent.

As we approach Christmas, we say, or sing, the ‘Great O’ Antiphons used before and after the evening canticle Magnificat that take themes from the Hebrew Scriptures and reflect on how Christ has come to redeem us. On Sunday, the antiphon is:

O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come, and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

The second story of creation in the book of Genesis describes God forming Adam from the dust of the earth and breathing the breath of life into him. There is a lovely hymn that the Benedictine Sisters at Stanbrook Abbey sing which contains this verse:

In his own image God created man,
And when from dust he fashioned Adam’s face,
The likeness of his own Son was formed:
His Word incarnate, filled with truth and grace.

I love the images of the Christmas hymns and carols that reveal to us God’s precious love for us and how he delights in us; those hymns and carols contain seemingly contradictory statements that, nevertheless, point to the mystery of the incarnation.

The 14th century carol ‘There is no rose of such virtue’ contains this beautiful line:

For in this rose contained was heaven and earth in little space;
Res miranda. (Which means, ‘A marvelous thing’).

And the carol ‘The great God of heaven’ written by Henry Ramsden Bramley, who worked with John Stainer on one of the first revivals of a carol book during the Oxford movement, contains this wonderful verse:

O wonder of wonders, which none can unfold:
The Ancient of days is an hour or two old;
The Maker of all things is made of the earth,
Man is worshipped by angels, and God comes to birth!

The antiphon ‘O magnum mysterium’ even elevates the animal kingdom who are the first to worship after Mary and Joseph:

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
iacentem in praesepio!

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the newborn Lord,
lying in a manger!

Such sentiments make me return to Mr. Bramley’s carol and join in the refrain:

Then let us adore him, and praise his great love:
To save us poor sinners he came from above.

I look forward to seeing you for the last great mass of Advent and then rejoicing with you at the news of our Savior’s birth.

your priest and pastor

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Appointment of Adam MacDonald
as Incoming Director of Development

Adam MacDonald

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Adam MacDonald as incoming Director of Development. Beginning on January 2, 2020, he will be working closely with Ann Kaplan, our present Director of Development during her remaining time on staff.

Adam MacDonald has served as Concerts Development Manager here at Saint Thomas since June of 2018. He moved to the city in 2001 as a freelance singer and actor performing off-Broadway, regionally and in national tours. Adam has been a tenor section-leader in the choir at the Church of the Heavenly Rest since 2002, where he also serves on the Vestry, produces their Jazz Vespers service, and works on the Stewardship Committee.

Originally hailing from Buffalo, NY, Adam holds degrees in Voice and Music Education from SUNY Fredonia, and a Master of Arts and Humanities from the University at Buffalo. He currently lives in northern Manhattan with his wife, Kristin, and their two daughters, Ellery and Delaney.

About his expanding responsibility, Adam says: Saint Thomas is a global parish with a hometown heart and I am thrilled to be a part of it. We are bursting with possibility and promise and have an abundance of hope and belonging to offer the city and the world through our Church and Choir School. The rich traditions we share today make for an exciting tomorrow and I thank you for this opportunity!

Please join me in welcoming Adam to this new role in our parish community.

Canon Carl Turner,

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Lessons and Carols Services, with Special Filming

This holy season, we welcome you to the variations of Lessons & Carols that Saint Thomas Church which are ahead:

  • The last shorter Service of Lessons and Carols (approximately fifty minutes) is on Saturday, December 21, at 4pm.
  • The traditional Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols is on Sunday, December 22 at 4pm and is repeated on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24 at 4pm.
  • The Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols on Sunday, December 22 at 4pm will be filmed by the Office of Communication of the Episcopal Church for a special video presentation to be globally available online before Christmas Day. Please note that if you attend this service, you could be filmed and appear in this online production.

You can find more information more information about these seasonal services and more information about our global webcast online.

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Special Coffee Hour this Sunday

We have four members of staff leaving us after Christmas: Benjamin Sheen, Associate Organist; Fr. Charles Wallace, Headmaster; Eddie Thomas, Custodian; and José Martin, Sexton. Eddie and José have an incredible 73 years of combined service to Saint Thomas Church!

You are invited to a Special Coffee Hour in their honor which will take place in Andrew Hall after the 11am service on Sunday, December 22. Please join us for this fond farewell.

If you would like to contribute to a leaving gift, please send in your donation to the parish office. If you wish to send in a check, please mark the memo line with the name of the person to whom you wish to leave a gift (or names, if you wish the donation to be split between them). You can also donate online.

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Silent Retreat with Sr. Promise Atelon

Sr. Promise Atelon

You are invited to participate in a special retreat at Saint Thomas Church entitled “Teach Me Your Paths, O Lord.” led by Sister Promise Atelon, SSM on Saturday, January 25th from 9am – 12pm.

Sr. Promise tells us:

As you know, in order to have a relationship with someone, it is necessary to spend time with one another. And the more you spend time together, the more you know each other and the closer you become. It is the same with God. To know God better on our morning retreat, we will spend time with God in prayer and meditation.

Daily life is so busy, and our minds are constantly running. Come as you are to spend time alone and within community, making a space to renew your relationship with God through guided meditation, reflection, and personal prayer. We need Jesus to teach us the ways of rest and relationship.

Wherever you are on your faith journey or in your relationship with God, this retreat is for you. All who want to grow closer to God are welcome. This retreat is for all who desire to walk closer with God and want God to show them the way. Come, take a break. Take a break from the news and the constant noise that fill our world. Teach us your paths, O Lord… so that we may grow closer to you and to others.

The retreat will begin with a complementary, light breakfast on the Fifth Floor and include individual and group meditation and reflection guided by Sr. Promise, concluding with prayers at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fifth Avenue and Mass.

To participate in this valuable opportunity, please contact Sr. Promise here.

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Pilgrims’ Course 2020:
An Introduction to the Christian Faith

Newcomers to Saint Thomas Church and those not yet members of the church are invited to our “Pilgrims’ Course,” which is a comprehensive introduction to the Christian faith, as received and understood by the Episcopal Church.

The course will be taught by the Rector with the assistance of Fr. Cheng, and the first session will be on Tuesday, January 14th. Each session will begin with a simple meal at 6:30 pm, and the class itself will run from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. The sessions will continue on most Tuesday evenings through May 19th. Bishop Allen Shin will visit the parish on Sunday, May 17, at 11 am, to confirm and receive candidates.

Although the course is specifically designed for adults who are considering baptism, confirmation, or reception into the Episcopal Church, it is fitting for anyone who wishes to explore Christianity or to deepen his or her faith. Please email Fr. Cheng at [email protected] if you would like to register for the class.

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