In this week’s news…
A Message from the Associate Rector
I return to W. H. Auden’s long poem “For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio” every year. The poem is impossible to summarize, and quotations hardly do it justice. I highly recommend the work. There is a section near the end of the poem that takes place in this “flat stretch” of Christmas that we are passing through right now. After all of the activity, feasts, and great services, the narrator of the poem reflects on the quiet time of the Christmas season. This is the time when we have to put away all of the decorations and dismantle the tree. He also reflects on some of the ways that we are recovering and how we fell short. For we:
Stayed up so late, attempted — quite unsuccessfully —
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers.
And he finds himself troubled by how the Vision that we all experienced during Christmas Eve and Day is so quick to depart:
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off.
But what was that Vision? For Auden, the Christmas Feast is when we are shown, in vivid technicolor, a shared memory upon which our lives hinge:
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
This is so splendidly succinct. What is Christmas but a time when it is revealed (with help from so much music and décor) that everything shines with an inner light from God? This light of love (all things are esteemed as a “You,” given value by God) was unleashed (or supremely revealed) by the birth of Christ, a timeless light that we help each other to see clearly in all that we share together in seasonal fellowship and worship.
But when that activity slows, and the décor is discarded, what is Auden’s behest for us in the silence of late Christmas? The Narrator tells us that this is the time for a different sort of spiritual life. Now is the time:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Yes! Like a good student of music, there are times for grand performances, but there is also much more time in the “flat stretches” to practice the basics of our faith. Quiet prayers. Discreet kindnesses given. There are all sorts of holy activities that take place “off stage,” aren’t there? Now is the time to look upon this marvelous truth: God is never absent, but is ever present to us in both our festivities and our stillness.
May the Holy Spirit give to our spirits this wonder in the quiet of Christmas.
He is the Way.
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.
He is the Truth.
Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.
He is the Life.
Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.
Father Matthew Moretz
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.
Fall 2019 Adult Education Survey
We would be grateful if you would take a few minutes to complete a survey about the Fall 2019 adult education program.
You can take the survey by clicking here:
Thank you for your feedback and ongoing support of the adult education program at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue!
Silent Retreat with 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.