Grace Church in New York
This Week at Grace
Grace Church Open for Public Worship
September 27, 2020
One of the more obscure sayings of Jesus occurs at Matthew 13:52, when he said to his disciples, Therefore, every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” I’ve never known quite what to make of the verse, but it came to mind this week as I was reading an article about the encouraging progress toward developing a Covid-19 vaccine. The world is anxiously awaiting the “householders” of the scientific community to bring out of their laboratories a treasure that is new. Until they do, life together cannot return to any semblance of what we knew it to be in pre-pandemic times. But once again, the news is optimistic that safe, effective vaccines are not far off in the future. When they are available and widely distributed, I would be so bold as to call it a win for the kingdom of God. I believe that whenever a disease is vanquished on earth all of heaven rejoices.
In the meantime, the church has been finding new ways to carry on the work of God’s kingdom. But in addition to the new, I note we also have been bringing out of our treasure what is old. One of these old things is private baptism. Prior to the liturgical renewal movement of the 1960s and 70s, private baptism was the norm. Families would make arrangements with the clergy for a convenient time, usually after the main service on any given Sunday. Then came the teaching that since baptism is about being welcomed into the church family, the gathered community ought to be present to witness the rite. So the sacrament of baptism moved into the service, and ideally only on four specified dates per year. The result was multiple baptisms at once, and a big crowd around the font. That’s a no-no in pandemic times, so we are back to private baptisms after the 11 am Sunday service. Call us if you want to make arrangements!
A second old thing coming out of our treasure is The Hymnal 1940. As you know, we’ve removed all Prayer Books and Hymnals from the church to eliminate things we might handle in common. These days we have been preparing a bulletin for the livestream and now the in-person 11 am service that contains everything we need, including the hymns. But many hymns as they are laid out in The Hymnal 1982 do not fit our format. We need them to stay on one page. The culprit is often the inclusion of a congregational descant (a terrible idea from the outset, but that’s a rant I’ll save for another day.) The result is that some familiar hymns take up two pages in the 1982 edition and we can’t use them. But in the old hymnal they fit neatly onto one page. Welcome back, old friend!
Finally, Morning Prayer as the principal Sunday service is an old thing made new again. Actually, it used to be the norm, but about the same time the church began discouraging private baptisms, liturgical reformers declared that the Eucharist should be the main event every Sunday. The earliest Christians gathered to break the bread and pass the cup, and so should we. Grace Church never bought fully into the logic; Sunday Morning Prayer has flourished here, and we have been considered something of an oddity in the Diocese because of it. But now in pandemic times, certain Eucharistic actions, such as passing the cup, are considered unsafe. So Morning Prayer is making a comeback in Episcopal Churches across the country, at least for now.
The kingdom of heaven presses in on earth in ways that are grand and small, new and old. Join us on Sunday, either on the livestream (the new way) or in-person (the old-fashioned way) to give praise to God even in these times that try our souls.
Resources for Practicing Your Faith at Home
- Worship with us each Sunday at 11 am using any of our video streaming channels: Grace Church in New York, YouTube Live, Vimeo, or Facebook.
- Come to Children’s Chapel over Zoom at 9:45 am every Sunday. Check your inbox for invite, or contact the Rev. Thomas Szczerba.
- Pray at home with your children using Faith at Home.
- Access the online Book of Common Prayer.
- Pray the daily office with The Daily Office or Prayer – Mission St. Clare
- Find the lectionary readings for Sundays and Feast Days online at Liturgical Calendar.
- You’ll find our archive of past services on Vimeo or YouTube.
Monday – Centering Prayer (via Zoom) 12:15-12:45 – Christian silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of God’s presence. Led by Currie Estreich, MA, Spiritual Direction, the General Theological Seminary. For Zoom access, please see your recent Weekly Epistle (Friday enews) or email the Rev. Thomas John Szczerba Jr. well before the event.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – Enter, Rest, Pray (Church is OPEN) Tuesday, noon–3 pm, Wednesday, 4-7 pm, and Thursday, noon–3 pm. Tuesday and Thursday Noonday Prayer at 12:05 pm. Wednesday Evening Prayer at 6 pm. All are required to wear a covering over their nose and mouth, and to observe posted safety guidelines.
Wednesday – Women’s Bible Study (over Zoom) – 10:30 am-noon – Long-running program of guided Bible study and discussion for women. For Zoom access, please see your recent Weekly Epistle (Friday enews) or email the Rev. Julia Macy Offinger well before the event.
Wednesday – Evening Prayer with Homily at 6 pm (Church is OPEN for in-person worship. Service also available over Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live. Service details are posted each week under Services-events. For Zoom access, please see your recent Weekly Epistle (Friday enews) or email the Rev. Thomas John Szczerba Jr. well before the service. All are required to wear a covering over their nose and mouth, and to observe posted safety guidelines while in the church.