“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know.” So the song goes.
Too often at this time of year, we engage in a kind of nostalgia for the way things used to be or should be. And so we set impossible expectations and grow anxious and stressed in reaching for perfection. We are often disappointed with results: the decorations are not perfect, the meal disappointing. If we focus on what is missing or wrong, we are sure to be disappointed.
As Fr. Malone described in today’s sermon on the scripture readings, Joseph has to make a decision about how to handle a painful, complex situation. According to the law and the culture, he has the choice of denouncing Mary either publically or privately. He sees only the two alternatives. Then the angel appears to him and tells him to “fear not to take Mary thy wife.” And Joseph is responsive to the angel’s message.
In his book Crazy Christians, Michael Curry writes: “If we live only in the context of the way things are, we are condemned to live according to the vagaries of the present time and the dictates of the status quo. But if we live in the context of that which is greater than ourselves, we become open to the possibility of action and transformation.”
This season is a time to reflect upon and give great thanks for what we have been given through Christ’s birth. It is a time to let go of our unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others and to grasp the possibilities that can be. I pray for us to rejoice in our many blessings and possibilities, not just at Christmas but throughout our lives.
How might you begin to explore new possibilities in your life?
Contact: Diane Kopasz, Minister of Communication, 703-527-6800
ST. MARY’S ARLINGTON PARISHIONER MARGARET ADAMS PARKER HONORED WITH
2016 INTERNATIONAL FAITH & FORUM AWARD FOR RELIGIOUS SCULPTURE
ARLINGTON, VA — St. Mary’s Episcopal Church is pleased to announce that long-time parishioner Margaret (Peggy) Adams Parker has been selected for an Honor Award by Faith & Form, the journal of the Interfaith Forum for Religion, Art, and Architecture for her bronze sculpture Mary as Prophet – He has filled the hungry with good things.
Commissioned by Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), Mary as Prophet offers a radically new interpretation of the Visitation. The sculpture depicts Mary tense with prophecy, her focus turned inward. Elizabeth moves toward her, bending and reaching forward to support her. Shown as African women, Mary and Elizabeth embody the Seminary’s ties with churches in Africa and reflect the composition of the Anglican Communion. And this depiction of Mary and Elizabeth as ordinary (rather than idealized) women, reminds viewers of the church’s call to “lift up the lowly.”
“St. Mary’s is delighted that Peggy has been recognized for her work, which echoes the Church’s prophetic mission to fill the hungry with good things,” says the Reverend Andrew T.P. Merrow, Rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. “We are thankful for VTS’ commitment to commission such public works of art that have the unique ability to move, impassion, and uplift.”
The sculpture sits on a terrace against the walls of VTS’ 1881 chapel (preserved as a sanctified space after a 2010 fire) and within view of the 2015 chapel. The figures are a significant presence on the VTS campus, an axis linking old and new: old chapel and new; old age and youth; Hebrew Scripture and Christian New Testament. Their prominent location underscores one of Dean Ian Markham’s goals for the commission: to honor the significance of women’s ministries in the church.
Parker’s work, which often deals with religious and social justice themes, is in the collection at U.S. Library of Congress and featured at Washington National Cathedral’s Cathedral College, Duke Divinity School and at churches across the country, including St. Mary’s. Parker has taught as VTS adjunct faculty since 1991. To learn more about Parker and for additional photos visit www.MargaretAdamsParker.com.
Parker will be presented her Honor Award at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Institute of Architects in Orlando, FL, on April 27.
About St. Mary’s
Founded in 1926, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church’s mission is to worship Christ, love our neighbors and serve the poor in our midst. Led by the Reverend Andrew T. P. Merrow, who serves as St. Mary’s Rector, the church has grown to include more than 600 households. For the past 30 years, the church has faithfully committed 25 percent of its annual operating budget to support outreach agencies in Arlington and abroad. In response to God’s unconditional love for all people made known to us in Jesus Christ, St. Mary’s is committed to be a welcoming and affirming community. To learn more about St. Mary’s ministries, visit www.StMarysArlington.org.
About the Annual Religious Art and Architecture Design Awards
The Awards program is co-sponsored by Faith & Form Magazine and the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA), a knowledge community of the American Institute of Architects. The awards program was founded in 1978 with the goal of honoring the best in architecture, liturgical design and art for religious spaces. The program offers five primary categories for awards: Religious Architecture, Liturgical/Interior Design, Sacred Landscape, Religious Arts, and Unbuilt Work. Read more at http://faithandform.com/awards/
Did You Know…
Christmas is actually a season that lasts until the Epiphany, January 6th. Remember the song, The 12 Days of Christmas?
While not every day of the 12 has a major feast associated with it, there are several days you can and are welcome to celebrate Christmas at a worship service at St. Mary’s.
Mon., Dec 26: St. Stephen, Deacon, and Martyr
- 10:30 am – 11:00 am Holy Eucharist
Tues., Dec 27: St. John, Apostle & Evangelist
- 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm Holy Eucharist
Wed., Dec 28: The Holy Innocents
- 6:30 am – 7:00 am: Holy Eucharist
Sun., Jan 1: Holy Name Day
- 10:30 am – 11:30 am: Holy Eucharist
Tues., Jan 3
- 12:00 pm – 12:15 pm: Noonday Prayer
Wed., Jan 4
- 6:30 am – 7:00 am: Holy Eucharist
Thurs., Jan 5
Fri., Jan 6: The Epiphany
The Epiphany follows the Twelve Days. It is the feast that commemorates the coming of the Wise Men to Jesus, following the star. The Feast of the Epiphany both closes the Christmas season and opens the Season after the Epiphany.
St. Mary’s will host a worship service of readings and hymns, and will be led by St. Mary’s Youth with St. Mary’s Men & Boys Choir in celebration of Christ’s light in the world.
- 8:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist
- 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm: St. Mary’s Feast of Lights
Note, an Epiphany Reception follows from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. in Paca Hall.
Ever since I was a little girl I’ve enjoyed waking up at early dawn to watch the sunrise. There is something magical about the appearance of everything, even the most familiar things, bathed in the light of a brand new day. Some mornings things are truly changed; wet from a night of rain or snow showers, frozen in an arctic blast or disturbed by a nocturnal creature. Other times it is like an optical illusion; the new angle of the sun’s rays as earth transitions into a new season, or the deception of a heavy fog. Most times, however, it is my perspective that makes the world transform on a daily basis.
Jesus asks, “What then did you go out to see?” in Matthew 11:2-11. This Gospel reading and Fr. Merrow’s sermon made me consider what it really means to see.
Sight is the sense for which I am probably most grateful. I’ve been able to take in so much beauty – from my mother’s face as a baby to my own children’s faces as an adult and so much more. Still, I know human eyes are easily fooled. The monster I saw in my closet as a 5-year-old was as clear as day. Countless magicians have left me in wonder during their shows. Airbrushing and Photoshop continue to cover the media landscape with a false reality. Eyewitness testimony has repeatedly been proven the least reliable evidence. ‘Seeing is believing’ is simply not often credible, especially these days.
On the [very] rare occasion my children prove me wrong, they love to demand, “See?!” This, of course, underscores understanding the error of my ways. Maybe seeing is collecting all the facts to assemble an informed comprehension then. But as we all know, facts are tricky things. Our personal biases, divergent experiences and now even ‘fake news’ constantly supply us with distortions and fabrications, not to mention the highly variable myriad of ways each one of us interprets the never-ending data.
So what is seeing? Fortunately, as children of God, we do not need to rely solely on our eyes, or the crude data put before us, or even our reasoning to truly see. As Christians, we are given a glimpse of our world through Jesus’ eyes because He came to live as one of us. We have the testimony of the Bible and the Holy Spirit in our hearts. As we fast approach the celebration commemorating His birth, I will continue to seek His light which alone can transform the way I see the world on a daily basis, much like the dawn of a new day.
Have you ever been deceived by something you witnessed?
How has your view of the world been transformed by your faith?
Usually, this week’s reading from Isaiah (11: 1-10), with its promise of the holy mountain and the peaceable kingdom, is a comforting passage during Advent, as we prepare for the birth of Jesus. It is the promise of security and stability, of the glorious resting place where harmony will rule and “the wolf shall live with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.”
But this year, in our very troubled times, the passage is not so comforting. Mother Kate, in her sermon, said the images in the reading always fill her with a wistfulness, and this year, she feels “the most wistful of all.” Our current world is very far from the peaceable kingdom, she said.
Like Mother Kate, I am feeling wistful too. Indeed, wistful might be an understatement. Despondent doesn’t feel too far off. The vitriol from the recent election; a bitterly divided nation; a casual disregard for the truth; the disdain with which people treat those they don’t even know; the lack of compassion for those who are different from us. And this is just a partial list! All of this makes it so easy to throw up our hands in disgust and further immerse ourselves in our own insular worlds. Or worse, we might feel pulled toward the fear and anger we are witnessing and act in ways that would not be described as our finest moments.
Yes, it is easy to grow increasingly skeptical that the peaceable kingdom is even possible.
But just as pessimism can threaten to slither in and overtake us, God reminds us that the kingdom truly is at hand. At the 9:00 a.m. service, that reminder was in the form of a remarkable testament from Bruce Lyman, our newly baptized adult member of the church. Bruce spoke to the congregation about why he chose to be baptized and his new life in Christ. He reminded us all that we are not really in charge, but God is.
What a remarkable and courageous moment it was. Frankly, it is not the kind of testimony you often hear at an Episcopal Church. But it was so ideal and so needed, on this particular Sunday, in this particular moment. Bruce’s open and moving testimony was a powerful reminder that the promise of the peaceable kingdom is real, even as we try to make our way in this broken and sad world. As Mother Kate said, the glorious kingdom is not ours to build, but it is the Lord’s mighty doing. He will show us signs and graces of the kingdom, she noted.
That grace was evident in the baptism. And I have decided that I want to choose to look for more signs of the kingdom rather than to slide down into the muck of pessimism, fear, and anger. It won’t be easy and I know I will be easily distracted by news and social media updates, and I perhaps will wander into those first few layers of the muck on occasion. But I plan to return to the baptismal prayer for strength: “Give us an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.”
St. Mary’s policy regarding postponements and closures due to inclement weather is meant first and foremost to provide for the safety of parishioners, clergy, and staff.
It takes into consideration not only the conditions being reported but the time it takes to clear the premises, sidewalks, and parking lot to create a safe traveling environment.
To that end:
Methods of Communication
In cases of cancellations or delays to worship services, regularly scheduled programs, and meetings, or special events, the office will post the building’s status on the landing page of St. Mary’s Website, on Facebook and an announcement will be placed on the parish office’s voice mail system (703) 527-6800. For certain cancellations, an e-blast may be sent.
The Rector in consultation with the Facilities Manager will determine morning/daytime closings by 5:00 a.m. Sundays and 7:00 a.m. weekdays; and, by 3:00 p.m. for cancellation of evening activities. Office staff will attempt to notify the contact person for the affected meetings, activities, or events.
Click here to find the lectionary readings, should you not be able to attend an early weekday service.
Sunday Worship Services and Normal Offerings
Every effort will be made to have Sunday morning worship services. Closing or schedule delays will be posted (see above). Likewise, cancellation of Sunday evening worship and/or programs will be posted by 3:00 p.m. at the latest. Scripture readings will be posted online for the Sunday affected by the cancellation.
Be aware that programs like the Nursery and Church School may have limitations due to staffing if babysitters and teachers cannot make it.
Weekday Meetings, Rehearsals, & Outside Groups
St. Mary’s will follow the Arlington County school system inclement weather policy.
• If school is delayed in the morning, all morning activities will be canceled
• If school is dismissed early, all evening activities will be canceled.
• If school is closed for the day, all activities will be canceled for the day.
The Parish Office will remain open whenever possible. The Rector, in consultation with the Facilities Manager, will determine if the weather conditions are too severe and/or continued clearing of the premises is necessary, requiring the office to close. A decision will be made by 7:00 a.m. Clergy and staff will be notified by email. Announcements will be posted on the Website and on the church voicemail as stated above. Ultimately, staff and clergy members will have to individually gauge the safety of their own travel situation.
All Evening Programs
Cancellation of evening programs, activities, and meetings will be posted by 3:00 p.m. at the latest.
Special Events: Funerals, Weddings, Potlucks, et al.
Events will be considered on a case by case basis and announced as stated above, as well as by email blast.