Wednesday, December 20, 2017

St. Mary's Nutley

Prepare ye, the way of the Lord.
Like you, St. Mary’s wonderful volunteers, lay staff and clergy have been preparing for this day. We have been decorating, wrapping, shopping and making plans for family celebrations. We have also been preparing for your/our time in this beautiful church. Wreaths and garland are hung. Light bulbs have been changed and candles lit. (To name but a few.)

Sing choirs of angels
The music has been planned with an attention to detail that rivals a 12 course gourmet dinner. Our music ministry has rehearsed and is excited to lead you in traditional favorites and contemporary surprises.

O come, let us adore him
This is where it all comes together. Long-time parishioners, first-time visitors, lectors, ushers, sheep and stars in the children’s pageant; all drawn by an adorable baby who is Emmanuel - God with us.

Gloria in excelsis Deo
We sing Glory to God in the highest with the angels, saints and our loved ones who are with them in heaven.

All the ends of the earth have seen the power of God
God continues to act in the world through the Holy Spirit. St. Mary’s responds to the Spirit’s call in the many works of service we perform throughout the year. Recently hundreds of presents placed under the giving tree were distributed to grateful recipients in nearby towns. On Saturday (the day before Christmas Eve) our care kitchen team fed and brought gifts to members of our own community. Each of you have responded to the Spirit’s call by being here today.

And He Shall Reign, forevermore, forevermore
Jesus is more than the reason for the season. He is the King of all Kings and Lord of Lords. Coming to church and being church in the world help us to live as members of Christ’s kingdom even as we live in the world.

Silent Night Holy Night - Joy to the World
Everything is fine at home.
So I’ll take the risk and turn off my phone
I’ll open the book follow along
Pray the prayers sing the songs
I’ll listen carefully to hear Jesus to say,
“I came for you that Christmas Day”

Blessed to be doing what I love at St. Mary’s,

Bruce

PS
My mom, Christine Mauro celebrates her 80th birthday this Christmas. Among many things; she encouraged me to persevere in music so I had something to fall back on. I’ve been “falling back” for forty years.

Thank you, Mom. Happy birthday! See you after the last mass. Thanks for cooking. (We’re very hungry!)



Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Advent III



On the third Sunday of Advent the words of the prophet Isaiah are again fulfilled in a gospel account featuring John the Baptist.  The following may prove helpful in differentiating between John the Baptist and John the Evangelist:

John the Baptist was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth.   Elizabeth was related to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  Thus, John and Jesus were related.  (BTW:  These details are only found in the gospel of Luke.)

John the Evangelist was the writer of the 4th gospel.   He and his brother James were the sons of Zebedee and Salome were two of Jesus’ 12 apostles.  This John is often referred to as Jesus’ beloved disciple and is to whom Jesus entrusts his mother at the crucifixion.

The Gospel of John is the last of the four gospel accounts to be written.  Scripture scholars suggest that Mark’s gospel was written around 70 A.D. and John’s somewhere between 90 and 100 A.D. 

The following quote from the U. S. Conference of Bishop’s website offers some insight as to why  the  Gospel of John is different from the other 3 synoptic gospels.  (syn = similar     optic = point of view)

The fourth gospel is not simply history; the narrative has been organized and adapted to
serve the evangelist’s theological purposes as well.

So, what is the Evangelist’s theological purpose?  (What is he trying to tell us about God?)  Today’s gospel makes it clear that Jesus is the Messiah (i.e. the Christ) and John is his herald. 

****

The third Sunday of Advent reflects the joy of our closeness to the celebration of Christ’s birth.  We light the rose colored candle.  The entrance antiphon invites us “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.  Indeed, the Lord is near.”   

Today’s music reflects this joy-filled anticipation.  The prelude “Emmanuel” (#56) is a contemporary setting of the O Antiphons by Steve Angrisano that is quickly becoming part of the advent repertoire.  “Beyond the Moon and Stars”(#46)  speaks of the light of the Lord and connects us to the light of which John the Baptist came to testify.   “Find Us Ready” (printed in the Advent booklet) speaks of our doing the work of the kingdom and preparing for Christ’s second coming.  We conclude with Curtis Stephan’s “Ready the Way” (#49) which sends us into the final full week of preparation before Christmas.

*****

Thank you to those who have responded to the call to be part of our social concerns ministry.  Our e-mail list has grown to over 60 parishioners!

Anticipating great Christmas gifts in small advent packages! 

Bruce
 



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Advent II




As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: 
“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.”
                                                            Mark 1:2
This line from Mark’s gospel illustrates a pattern of prophecy and fulfillment that will continue throughout the upcoming weeks. John the Baptist is the voice crying out in the wilderness of which Isaiah foretells.  Jesus is the shepherd who feeds his flock and gathers the lambs with care.

While scripture scholars continue to argue over when and who wrote these scriptural accounts the following timeline might prove helpful:

742 B.C. ———————3O A.D ————-60 A.D.————
Isaiah                          Jesus’ Ministry     Book of Mark

o   Isaiah began his prophetic ministry over 700 years before the birth of Christ.

o   Mark’s gospel was the first gospel recorded about 30 years after Jesus died. (Contrary to the popular phrase: “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John”)

Today’s music highlights the beautiful images contained in Isaiah’s prophecy. It speaks of the voice crying out in the wilderness as well as the promised comfort and well-being of God’s Kingdom.

The prelude (A Voice Cries Out) has been selected to help us transition from whatever held our attention prior to mass to the prophecies of Isaiah which we will be proclaimed during the liturgy of the word.

Our procession will be accompanied by instrumental music to accentuate advent’s being a season of preparation and expectation.

We respond to the penitential rite singing “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee O Israel” praising God for the gift of forgiveness in Jesus.

I urge you to continue a liturgical new year’s resolution of openness, attentiveness, transformation and preparedness.  Be receptive to the gift of God’s saving Word and loving presence.

Anticipating great Christmas gifts in small Advent packages,

Bruce


The GOoD Shepherd

The idea of Jesus being our Advocate with the Father from last week’s second reading continues to spark my reflection. I...