Advent has begun and our celebrations last Sunday were stirring and well attended. At 11am I talked about the way that pilgrimage is a very natural image for the Christian on his or her life’s journey. We live in an age when many people are tortured by their past and, sometimes, fearful for the future. However, we Christians have a sense of direction in our lives. I encourage you to talk to one another and encourage one another during this Advent season of preparation. Your clergy are available for spiritual direction and counsel about your own pilgrimage through life. A priest is also available to hear confessions every Saturday from 11am to 12 noon in the Resurrection Chapel. On Tuesdays we have a healing mass at 12:10pm and, after the 11am service on Sundays, trained lay ministers with a priest offer the laying on of hands, the anointing of the sick, and intercessory prayer. In all the busyness of Midtown Manhattan in December, Saint Thomas Church remains an oasis of prayer and reflection.
This Sunday, December 9, we explore pilgrimage in another way when the choir and ministers will process through the church singing the Great Litany. If you have never experienced this, please come. The Great Litany is one of the splendid moments of Anglican liturgy and, sadly, is hardly ever used these days. Archbishop Cranmer’s original litany from the 1549 prayer book and subsequent versions are deeply spiritual and connected with the life of the church as it navigates its way through the world. I find it very poignant that the ministers and choir pray to the Lord as they walk through the gathered congregation. The Litany does not belong to the ministers and the choir – it is the prayer of the Church and the Church is, quite literally, ‘on the move’!
From ‘The Litany’ by John Donne (1572-1631)
O Holy Ghost, whose temple I
Am, but of mud walls , and condensèd dust,
And being sacrilegiously
Half wasted with youth’s fires of pride and lust,
Must with new storms be weather-beat,
Double in my heart Thy flame,
Which let devout sad tears intend, and let-
Though this glass lanthorn, flesh, do suffer maim-
Fire, sacrifice, priest, altar be the same.
with every blessing,
Father Carl Turner
Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols”
On Thursday, December 13 at 5:30pm, join us for this holiday concert to experience the spirit of Christmas with a dramatic sequence of carols and other holiday works. The evening will feature Benjamin Britten’s haunting work for boys’ choir and harp, a tradition that goes back more than forty years. Daniel Hyde will conduct the Boys of the Saint Thomas Choir and Sarah Cutler on harp. To purchase tickets, follow this link.
Lessons and Carols at Saint Thomas
This holy season, we welcome you to the variations of Lessons & Carols that Saint Thomas Church will host at four services from December 15 through December 24:
· The traditional Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols is on Sunday, December 23 at 4pm and repeated on Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24 at 4pm.
· A shorter Service of Christmas Lessons and Carols (lasting approximately fifty minutes) is on Saturday, December 15, at 4pm and repeated on Wednesday, December 19, at 12:10pm.
For more information about these seasonal services, please follow this link.
Celebrate the Seasons with EAST
Join EAST (Episcopal Asian Supper Table) on December 14 at 6:30pm in the Parish House to share the blessings of the Advent and Christmas seasons. We’ll also be looking for your ideas on growing the presence of Asian Americans in the Episcopal Church. Come share your views and celebrate with a festive dinner hosted by St. Thomas Church.
RSVP to EAST@dioceseny.org by Monday, December 10
EAST (Episcopal Asian Supper Table) is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.