January 13, 2013

Good morning and welcome to St. Mary’s Church

“Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr. Birthday”                                                                                 Will be celebrated on January 20, 21013

Saturday, January 26 at 10:30 am - Memorial Service for the Rev. Robert Castle. All are invited to attend. You are also invited to bring pictures and notes for a remembrance book for Mrs. Kate Castle.

Economic times, especially since hurricane Sandy, have become very challenging for many here at St Mary’s. If you have the means to contribute to the clergy Discretionary account, which helps these in needs, please consider making a contribution. Thank You. Father Tom.

Stewardship and your pledge – As a community, we share in many ways. We give God and each other prayer, time, togetherness, talents and tithing. Turning in a pledge card is a demonstration of your commitment, and helps with planning for 2013. We thank you if you have already pledged. If you have not pledged, please prayerfully consider your pledge to St. Mary’s for 2013, and turn in a pledge card today.

Bulletin announcements: If you need an announcement listed in the bulletin for the next Sunday, email Ms. Gwen by 5: pm at allowances1@gmail.com on Wednesdays.

Father Tom’s days off are Monday and Tuesday, he is available those days by phone in cases of emergencies at 1-646-692-8355… Thank you for your co-operation!

Commentary on the Readings by Arthur Cash

First Reading: Isaiah 43: 1-7

     To understand this prophetic verse by Second Isaiah, one must look at the previous chapter. God had allowed Babylon to conquer and enslave Israel as punishment for their failures to obey his laws. Now he is calling them home, promising safe passage through waters and fire. He has redeemed them.                                                                                       In this metaphor, God is spoken of as a man redeeming his kinsman from slavery by paying a price. The imager includes the price paid, which is the vast areas of Egypt, Ethiopia. And Saba (Arabia). Speaking historically, at the time that Isaiah was writing, Persia had overcome Babylon and was freeing the Jews. Far to the southwest, Persia was also attacking Arabia and North Africa, continuing to build the great Persian Empire. In the metaphor, God is giving up these nations to Persia as the price he is paying for the freedom of Israel.                                                                                                              The lines are metaphorical, but one may ask, what was the reality that Isaiah turned into a metaphor? I think he believed that the fall of Arabia and Africa to the Persians was God’s doing, that God was abandoning those peoples for their sins, giving them over to a conqueror, as he had once abandoned the Jews for their sins and given them over to the conquering Babylonians. That, I think, was Isaiah’s reality.

Second Reading: Acts 8: 14-17  

    In my comment last Sunday on Ephesians, I spoke of the parallel careers of Paul and Paul and Peter in the establishment of the Church as an international institution. Today we see the beginning of their mission, the conversion of the Samaritans.  Samaritans was a splinter Judaism developed by rural Jews left behind when the Babylonians and Chaldeans drove thousands of their kinsmen northward into slavery. Because the Babylonians needed skilled and educated workers, they took the priests and rabbis, the stone masons and tailors, leaving behind the laborers and farmers. Abandoned and leaderless, these illiterate working people formed their own version of Judaism, including their own priests and mountain temples. Then their relatives returned from Babylon and set about rebuilding Jerusalem and establishing their new nation, Judea. Not only did they rebuild the Temple and re-establish the cult religion, but they also brought new learning, a new set of Scriptures and new traditions of study and worship in synagogues. These sophisticated and soon powerful Jews were contemptuous of the Samaritan. Among these outcasts Peter and Paul made their first mass conversions to Christianity. They did not win over all of them. There are still Samaritans living in Israel.

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