December 17, 2001
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Luke’s,
As I write this it is late Advent and the twelve days of Christmas are only a week away. Shortly, we will be beginning a new year and I can’t help but reflect on the past six months. I am truly amazed at what has happened.
Before I attempt to review some of the events in our shared history, I really must take time here to extend my gratitude again to all those dear people who helped make my ordination day such a grand and life-changing event. There was much – like the work of the altar guild, the ordination committee, the cleaning and repair crews – that was done simply out of love.
As many, many people commented, the reception after the ordination Mass was beautifully decorated and the food was wonderful. The list of people is long and the risk of leaving someone out is real, so please know that I am deeply grateful for all the hard work and care shown by so many
Turning to the events of the last half year, I think the most heartening aspect about it all has been the faith and commitment that the congregation has demonstrated in preparing for bringing back full-time ordained ministry to St. Luke’s. Marianne and I both remember our first visit to meet the vestry in the late spring. There was a candid and encouraging discussion in the lower parish hall, and then we were taken on a tour of the buildings. When I first saw the interior of the church I was struck by its simple and elegant beauty. I was also greatly impressed by the fact that that the entire church was in the process of being painted and the plaster repaired. I remember thinking that the expense might seem to some people unnecessary, but I also understand that a church that is alive with the new life that comes in the Risen Life of Jesus should be able to express that hope in a positive and faithful response.
Since that first meeting we have witnessed one instance after another of the demonstration of a faith and commitment to the promises of the New Covenant. Obviously, we were very pleased when parishioners took time to prepare the rectory for our arrival toward the end of May (there was also invaluable help with moving our household goods and my woodworking equipment – UGH!). There was a fabulous community reception in the Great Upper Hall that made us feel quite special indeed. And then, starting in June, we began to work together on the events that were already planned to honor St. Luke’s 200th year as a parish. The events we’ve had so far, which I have already written to you about, were very well attended and received. It has also been gratifying to see the excellent coverage St. Luke’s has been getting in the various local news outlets.
Throughout, the vestry and the congregation has been extremely patient and kind as I served my short “apprenticeship” as a transitional deacon with the expert guidance of Fr. Richard Lutz. Together we saw the commissioning and installation of a brand new, and very handsome, dossal (the ornamental curtain that hangs over the high altar). The fifty-two new insulated windows were installed in the parish building and a grant was received from NYS Landmarks Conservancy to continue to preserve the stained glass windows in the church. A new choir was formed during September. In October, Jon Greene returned to St. Luke’s as organist. It warms my heart to see Ruth Anne and Jon worshiping together here. A small but faithful group now prays the informal Morning Office in the Chapel daily. Join us at 7:45 am when you can-itís a great way to begin your day!
By now I have celebrated the Holy Eucharist a handful of times, and the one thing I can say without qualification is that I love doing it! I am also very pleased with the way the liturgy is evolving at St. Luke’s. The early Eucharist at 7:30 AM on Sundays is very intimate and somewhat quiet. The Choral Mass at 10:00 now has a variety of music: rousing traditional hymns for the processions, more contemporary and meditative hymns from our new green “Celebration” hymnal during communion, and special offerings from the choir. Our Sunday School began in late September; the children are planning for a Christmas Eve presentation and have already completed a lovely Advent banner, which is proudly displayed in the Church Nave. The first Sunday of the month family service has given me a chance to interact with the children in informal dialogues that Iím really starting to enjoy.
I am sure that there are some things that I have missed, which serves to prove that there has been a lot going on!
After the attack of September 11 we have much to grieve, and we have witnessed much for which to give thanks. In the midst of the noise – the hustle-bustle of holiday preparations, the din of war and the weeping of those who mourn their dreadful losses – let us not forget, “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.”
May the light of Christ shine in your hearts this season and in the year to come.
In Christ our Lord,
Advent 4 (12/23/01) 7:30 AM Holy Eucharist
10:00 AM Choral Eucharist (greening of the church follows)
4:00 PM Rip Van Winkle Brass Concert (reception and cookie exchange following)
Christmas Eve: 5:00 PM Family Holy Eucharist
10:30 PM Lessons & Carols
11:00 PM “Midnight Mass” (Choral Eucharist)
Christmas Day: 9:00 AM Holy Eucharist
St. Stephen (12/26/01) 5:30 PM Holy Eucharist
St. John (12/27/01) 5:30 PM Holy Eucharist
Holy Innocents (12/29) 5:30 PM Holy Eucharist
New Years Services
New Years Eve (12/31) 11:00 PM Holy Eucharist (reception following in the lower parish hall.)
New Years Day (01/01/02)10:00 AM Holy Eucharist