News from St. Nicholas with the Holy Innocents
The Feast of the Holy Innocents
· Today we worship at 11 a.m. as one congregation for the Farewell Liturgy to the Holy Innocents building. Following the liturgy, there will be a farewell celebration and meal in the undercroft. I hope all will be able to stay and celebrate.
· Next Sunday, January 7, we worship as one congregation at the St. Nicholas with the Holy Innocents building at 10 a.m.
· On January 14, we begin our new schedule, with masses at 9 & 11 a.m., and church school for children and adults at 10.
* I need volunteers this Sunday the 31st to help move items from the Holy Innocents building to the St. Nicholas with the Holy Innocents building. Those with trucks, SUVs, or vans are especially needed. We’ll enjoy the post-liturgy party for about an hour and then begin moving items. This should take less than an hour.
* I also need volunteers on January 7 after Mass to help move items from the Holy Innocents building to storage. Those with trucks, SUVs, or vans are especially needed and it should take about 90 minutes.
My hope is that we can move everything we need to move from the building on those two days. With enough volunteers, we can. The pastoral aim here is simple. After the 31st, the building will be a treasured part of our past. Our challenge on January 1 will be to begin living fully in the present, as we move into the new future God has in store for us, and so I want us to be able to concentrate all our energies on meeting that challenge, not in taking care of a building. Once we move out those things we want to
keep, that will become the responsibility of our Diocese.
Bring a non-perishable food item to church.
Our food pantry will benefit greatly if we all remember to do this each Sunday.
Make yourself a name tag whenever you worship.
It will help us get to know one another faster, and it’s a great way to make guests feel welcome.
I bring you good news and glad tidings.
Mary Fletcher-Gomez will become the first music director of St. Nicholas with the Holy Innocents, effective in February. I often have referred to Mary as the unknown parishioner at St. Nicholas. This is because most of the members of that congregation do not really know her. Although she has belonged to the church for eight years, and helps out when she can with funerals and other music, she rarely is able to be with us on Sundays because she has been the music director of a Lutheran church. As the prospect of
combining our two parishes has heated up in recent months, I renewed a conversation Mary and I have had many times in the past about coming home to her Episcopal roots as our music director. I did this as well bearing in mind that there has been no director at Holy Innocents, Betsy Swanson had agreed to be music director at St. Nicholas only through 2006, and I wanted a strong music program as quickly as possible at St. Nicholas with the Holy Innocents. To my delight, Mary has decided it is time for her to do
Having known her for many years now, I can tell you that Mary is a wonderful human being who will bring a deep love of the Anglican tradition, a great personality, and consummate musical skills to us. She is a retired public school music teacher and for many years was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra chorus. She is tremendously excited to be finally coming to us, and has ambitious plans for our music program. She already has been shopping for our new organ, and is beginning to plan music for Lent and
Easter. She likely will bring some choir members with her from her present church and is looking forward to the choir resources available in our newly combined congregation.
As we prepare to welcome Mary, the St. Nicholas folks and I owe an enormous thank you to Betsy, who selflessly took on music responsibilities when Sharon left in June, and did so gratis. Her generosity helped St. Nicholas end 2006 in the black and her musical skills have been – and will continue to be – a blessing to all of us. My most cherished musical memory of 2006 is the later Christmas Evening liturgy. At its conclusion, Betsy did a solo performance of “O Holy Night” that stopped me in my tracks
and brought tears to my eyes.
A note about our liturgies.
When we go to our regular schedule on January 14, the 9 a.m. liturgy will be close to what the Holy Innocents’ liturgy has been, and the 11 a.m. liturgy will be similar to what St. Nicholas has done. In the months ahead, I will tweak both liturgies some, to make them even stronger vehicles for worship and especially to make them even more inviting to visitors. The 9 a.m. tweaking will be minor – singing the psalm and one or two more of the responses to the Eucharistic prayer. The 11 a.m. tweaking
will be more significant. With its later start, I think it is important that we shorten and simplify it. I also would like to try new texts and see if we can develop a more contemplative feel to it. I’m personally very excited because I like being able to do both a “high church” and a more “experimental” liturgy. In that sense, I’m a peculiar priest, but there are worse things to be.
I hope that people will try both liturgies, finding the style that is more comfortable for them, and the time that fits better with their schedule. It will be important that we not have two congregations in one building, with everyone just doing what they were doing. Try both liturgies and see what speaks to you.
One bread, one body.
“The moment, however expected, is always unexpected when it arrives,” said the poet T.S. Eliot. The unexpected expected moment is now upon us, and it is ours to embrace courageously. The months ahead will bring their share of challenges and disappointments, for it is never easy to integrate two congregations. But I am convinced they will bring far more joys. During these recent months I have become prouder and prouder of each congregation, and I am thrilled to be a part of what will now unfold as we truly become,
in Paul’s great vision, one bread, one body. As we move forward, please remember two things. 1. When things go wrong or you feel upset, talk to me first, then to God. 2. When things go right, talk to God first and let me know later what you heard.