News from Saint Thomas week beginning April 7

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Lent Continues

This Lent, Saint Thomas’s Church invites you to share in a rich array of opportunities to discover where God seeks to meet you through our Lenten worship, study and education, and through times for quiet reflection and pilgrimage at other churches in Midtown. Please join us as we make our way through the pain and sorrow of Good Friday to encounter the new life and sustained hope of the Easter dawn!

Here is a list of the special parish activities for the fifth full week in Lent:

The Fifth Sunday in Lent, April 7

  • 8:00am Said Eucharist
  • 9:00am Sung Eucharist and Sermon
  • 11:00am Choral Eucharist and Sermon
  • 4 pm Choral Evensong and Sermon

Sunday Theology Class: “Easter Day” with Father Moretz
April 7, 10:00am on the Fifth Floor of the Parish House

Sunday Sermon Series at 4:00pm, “The One who Sings Prays Twice”
April 7, “Prayer as Cadence,” Father R-J Heijman

Healing Prayer and Anointing of the Sick
Sunday, April 7, after the 11:00am Eucharist
Tuesday, April 9, during and after the 12:10pm Eucharist

Devotional Study
Monday, April 8, 12:45-2pm

Pilgrims’ Course Class: Relationships: Marriage, Commitment, and Religious Communities
Tuesday, April 9, 6:30-8:15pm

Holy Hour
Wednesday, April 10, 11:00am-12:00pm

Evening Theology Class: Disrupting Times: When History meets Mysticism,
with the Reverend Dr. Robert D. Flanagan
Wednesday, April 10, 6:30-8:00pm, on the Fifth Floor of the Parish House

Weekday Services in Lent
Monday, April 8 to Friday April 12: 8:00am, 12:10pm & 5:30pm.

Shrine Prayers
Monday, April 8 to Saturday April 13, 12:00pm

Stations of the Cross
Friday, April 12, 6:30pm, in the Chantry Chapel

Saturday, April 13, 11am-11:45am, or by appointment

To learn more about the complete schedule of Lenten seasonal offerings, please follow this link.

“Christ on the Cross” by Zubaran

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble…
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Those are the words to the first verse of “Were You There,” an American spiritual likely composed by African-Americans in the 19th Century. It was included in the 1940 Episcopal Church Hymnal – apparently the first spiritual to be included in any major church hymnal. We sang it every Good Friday at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio, when I worked there, and it caused me to “tremble, tremble, tremble” every time. It is a haunting song. And it always put the question directly to me as I stood there in that cathedral. “Were you there…?”

In Lent this year, we have been practicing the Stations of the Cross at Saint Thomas and at a couple of our friendly nearby Episcopal parishes, as well. The Stations of the Cross, also known as the Way of the Cross or the Way of Sorrows, is a devotion that originated in Jerusalem. It is made up of images marking out stops or “stations” along the route that Jesus walked through Jerusalem, carrying his Cross, from his sentencing by Pilate to his Crucifixion and onward to his body being buried in the tomb. Pilgrims to Jerusalem contemplated Christ’s Passion as they walked from Station to Station. Eventually, Christians began to hang Stations of the Cross in their home churches as well, so that one didn’t have to go to Jerusalem to practice the devotion.

As we approach Holy Week and Good Friday, in this last week of Lent, I encourage you to sit and pray some version of the Stations of the Cross. Or, if you prefer, with one of the equivalent stories from the Gospels. (You can read one account of the Crucifixion in Luke 23:13-56, for example.) As you begin, pray first that the Holy Spirit will inspire your imagination. And then, as you read, try and picture that you are in that crowd as Jesus is condemned, as he carries his Cross, as he is nailed to it, as he dies.

Imagine the scene with your senses. Is it a hot day or a cool one? Is the sun beating down oppressively, or are there clouds covering up its rays? What can you smell? Bread baking? Donkey manure? Blood? Picture the crowds in the streets of Jerusalem: merchants, laborers, farmers, pilgrims and temple officials, Roman soldiers, rebels and thieves. Who are you? One of these? Or are you Simon of Cyrene forced to carry the Cross? Or one of the women of Jerusalem weeping? Are you Jesus? Or one of the men crucified beside him? Imagine the scene from the perspective of this particular person now. How do they see the events unfolding? What do they feel?

This approach to praying the Scriptures, using our imaginations to place ourselves in the setting of the story, is based on the sort of contemplation proposed in Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s “Spiritual Exercises.” When we pray this way we enter into the particular, incarnate reality of these familiar stories to try and see them anew. We put ourselves there within the story and we pray for God’s grace that we might be able, in our own imperfect and incomplete way, to perceive something lively and powerful.

The people in those crowded, dusty streets on that first Good Friday were not two-dimensional storybook characters. They were flesh and blood human beings like you and me. They had fears and hopes, anxieties and prejudices, sorrows and joys. They were not so unlike us, I think. And so the haunting old spiritual raises its haunting old question.

“Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?”

Father Adam Spencer
Associate Priest for Pastoral Care

Disrupting Times

Join the Reverend Dr. Robert D. Flanagan as he shares his passion for the Golden Age of Mysticism during our final Evening Theology Class on Wednesday March 27, April 10 from 6:30 to 8:00pm.

The Fourteenth-Century was a time of momentous change and disruption. It was also a period of great spiritual discovery. The stark contrasts between the technological, environmental, and societal upheaval and the profound experiences of the century’s mystics make it a fascinating time for us to explore.

Over the course of three sessions, you will learn about the similarities which the fourteenth-century has to our time and engage with prominent mystical voices from the era, also known as the Golden Age of Mysticism. We will read about and discuss the seminal events of the time and read and contemplate the pragmatic writings of several fourteenth-century mystics.

To attend, all you need is a curious mind and a desire to deepen your knowledge of history and your understanding of mysticism.

The course will conclude on the Fifth Floor of the Parish House on April 10.

All are welcome! Please contact Father Moretz at if you have any questions.

Our Guest Preacher for Holy Week: the Right Reverend Richard Chartres

We look forward to welcoming Bishop Chartres to Saint Thomas Church as our guest preacher for several services throughout Holy Week.

Richard Chartres first visited New York in the early 1980’s as Chaplain to Archbishop Robert Runcie. At that time Canon John Andrew, of blessed memory (who was himself a former Archbishop’s Chaplain), was Rector of Saint Thomas.

Subsequently, Richard Chartres became the parish priest of St. Stephen’s Rochester Row in the Diocese of London. At the same time he served as Gresham Professor of Divinity and co-authored a history of Gresham College.

In 1992, he was appointed Bishop of Stepney, one of the areas of the Diocese of London and was later translated to the Bishopric of London itself in 1995. He served the Diocese during a period of substantial growth for 22 years until his retirement in 2017. He remains Dean of HM Chapels Royal.

During his tenure as Diocesan Bishop, he fulfilled various national roles. He chaired the Church Commissioners who administer the historic assets of the Church of England. He was also Chair of the National Church Buildings Division, and founding Chair of “Shrink the Footprint,” the Church’s environmental campaign. He has also been the Archbishop’s envoy to the Orthodox Churches.

Most significantly, twelve years ago he participated in the founding of St. Mellitus College, which has made a large contribution to the increase of the numbers of ordinands in training. The number entering training this year nationally in the Church of England exceeds the total for any year since 1963.

After retiring from Parliament as a member of the Lords Spiritual, he was, unusually, re-appointed as a Life Peer, and is currently active in the legislative work of the House of Lords.

Richard Chartres is now an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese in Europe, and in his home Diocese of Salisbury.

He is married to Caroline and they have four children.

Our Guest Preacher for the Three Hours Devotion on Good Friday: the Reverend Elaine Farmer

The Reverend Elaine Farmer, our preacher for the Three Hours Devotion on Good Friday, April 19, 12pm – 3pm, is a priest of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra & Goulburn and an internationally active scholar, teacher, and author. She was ordained in 1993, among the earliest women ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Church of Australia. She has served in several parishes, taught homiletics and ministry formation, and been Associate Editor of
St Mark’s Review, Australia’s oldest theological journal.

She has preached in Anglican dioceses in Australia, New Zealand and in the United States, and preached in 2018 at Westminster Abbey. She has been a keynote speaker at various Australian and international conferences.

A book of her sermons, …And the Angels Held their Breath. Sixteen Reasons for Exploring the God-Option (Australasian Theological Forum) was translated into Bahasa Indonesia by the Jesuits and given episcopal imprimatur. She was also a contributor to Don’t Put Out the Burning Bush, a book on preaching and worship also published by the Australasian Theological Forum.

Elaine now lives in Canberra with her husband, Bill, whose diplomatic career included appointments as Ambassador to Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Indonesia. They have two children and six grandchildren.