Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Daphne B. Noyes at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, January 29, 2017, the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Today is our annual parish meeting, so it seems a good time to share this anecdote. A priest of my acquaintance, rector of a prestigious urban parish for only a few months, was preparing for the parish’s annual meeting (and that’s a lot of work, as my colleagues can attest). In the midst of this, the priest’s two young children simultaneously came down with the kind of nasty bug that seems to appear regularly, all too frequently, in families with small kids. Usually at the worst possible time.

The beleaguered cleric took a moment out from preparing the obligatory annual report and tending to ailing offspring, to make this journal entry:
“Hey – it’s sick, screaming kids weekend – just in time for the Annual Meeting. Well played, Satan.”

Well played, Satan. Could there be a more appropriate, or accurate, summing up of many of the goings-on in our nation, in the world?

Well played, Satan. How else are we to understand the rancor and rudeness, the disrespect and division that surround us, that have turned public discourse into public discord?

You may wonder what Satan is doing in the midst of this reflection, this liturgy, our lives. Well, the short answer is: the usual. Wreaking havoc, leading us astray, sowing doubt and fear, encouraging us to put ourselves at the center of power and privilege and abandon others to the outskirts. Urging us to hear only our own voices, and to stifle or silence the voices of others. Even, or especially, the voice of God. Offering prosperity to a few of us, at the price of poverty for many of us. Distracting us with seductive visions of safety and security — as long as we turn a blind eye to artificial walls of division and the needs of others. Calling our attention away from the persecuted who turn to us seeking shelter, that we may focus only on our own material comfort and well being. Make no mistake: Satan will let us rule — as long as we play by Satan’s rules.

The contentious, conflicted milieu in which we find ourselves may be unfamiliar, but it is nothing new to God. The prophet Micah preached to the wayward people of Israel, reminding them of God’s steadfast love, generated not by a rota of ritual sacrifice or public display of self-righteousness, but in justice, mercy, and humility.

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, reminding the fledgling Christians of the then-novel, topsy-turvy theology of God’s kingdom: what is foolish will shame what is wise; what is weak will shame what is strong; what is low and despised will bring to nothing worldly things and thoughts. This is Christ, and him crucified: foolish, weak, low, despised, and the hope of the world.

Perhaps in writing this Paul had in mind the familiar teaching of Jesus in the portion of Matthew’s Gospel we know as the Beatitudes. Jesus lays out a vision of the world which dwells in (straddles) two places: the present and the future.

In the present, we have those who are blessed — the poor, the mourners, the meek; in the future, they shall be comforted, shall inherit the earth.

In the present, we have those who seek righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers; in the future, they shall be satisfied, shall obtain mercy, shall see God; shall be called children of God.

In the present, we have those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…who are reviled and have “evil uttered against them on my account”, says Jesus, reminding his listeners that the prophets, too, were so persecuted.

There are some who would inherit the earth through fear and domination. There are some who would inherit the earth through hoarding their riches like the man who came up with a plan to preserve his burgeoning treasure by tearing down his barns, and building ever-larger ones.

But Jesus assigns this inheritance of the earth not to those with earthly authority or unimaginable wealth, but to the meek.

I would like to suggest that the meek have gotten a bad rap. I once worked with a high-powered executive who scornfully spoke of the potential promotion of a less-aggressive colleague: It’ll happen, he said, when the meek inherit the earth.

Yet the coupling of the meek and the inheritance of the earth, or the land, is well grounded in scripture— for example, Psalm 37. (And let’s remember that the Psalms are essentially Jesus’ prayer book.) In this psalm, the Hebrew words used for “possess” or “dwell” or “inherit” translate more accurately, if less gracefully, as “tenant” (think of it as a verb) and “tabernacle” (same thing). Those who will tenant the land and tabernacle the earth are the godly; who are generous in giving; whose steps are directed by God; who are faithful; who keep God’s law in their heart. Those are the meek. The meek, we might say, are people who keep the two great commandments: who love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, and who love their neighbors as themselves.

This is heady stuff to lead us into, or out of, a parish annual meeting. But never was there a better time to call to remembrance why we are here, what we are doing, and for whom.

Amen.

This Week’s Announcements, January 29-February 4, 2017

If you are visiting or new to the Advent, we hope that you will feel welcome and at home. Please fill out a visitor’s/newcomer’s card so that we will have a record of your visit here and can keep in touch.


All persons baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit are invited to the Altar to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you wish to receive a blessing, come to the Altar and cross your arms over your chest.


TODAY!


The Annual Parish Meeting is at 10:00 am this morning.  Please go to the Library and sign in, get your ballot, a copy of the 2015 Annual Report and a new edition of the Parish Directory.  You may vote after you sign in, or during the meeting.

If you can help count votes, please come to the Library at the conclusion of the 11:15 Mass.


9:00 Coffee Hour. The Annual Meeting will take place immediately following the 9:00 Mass this morning. The regular 9:00 coffee hour resumes next Sunday, when the hosts will be Ray Porter, Suzi Briggs & Bruce Kiernan. New coffee hour hosts are always needed; please contact Barbara Boles by email bbolesster@gmail.com, or telephone (617-501-7572) if you’re interested or have questions about what is entailed.

11:15 Coffee Hour.  Hour.  Michael Gnozzio, Kara Rodgers, and Annlinea Terranova host this morning’s Coffee Hour. We are in need of more volunteers to do the coffee hour.  To view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Marcos or Daniel German-Domingues (mrbgd@hotmail.com or DGDomingues@outlook.com), Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com).


Entr’acteThere is no Entr’acte this morning.  Next Sunday, February 5, and on subsequent Sundays, February 12, 19, and 26, Fr Warren will lead a discussion of the teaching and practice of Islam.  Thereafter, during Lent Jim Wood, our Parish Administrator and scholar of the Bible to boot, will lead a presentation of the Passion Narratives in the four Gospels.


Can You Help?  Morning and Evening Prayer is scheduled to be prayed every day at 9:00 am and 5:30 pm Monday through Friday.  Because pastoral responsibilities, it is becoming more and more difficult for the Clergy alone to maintain these Monday through Friday services, and so we badly need volunteers to conduct services if the present schedule is to continue.  Think about this, and if you are able to take on one of these evening services, please speak to Fr Warren or Fr Wood.


THIS WEEK!


Bible Study Continues—Wednesdays at 10 am—Parish Library—Interested in studying the Bible with others from our parish?  Join us in the Library on Wednesday mornings at 10 am. This week we take up chapter 1 of the Book of Revelation. 


COMING UP!


Blessing of Throats:  The feast of St Blaise is February 3, and from the eighth century he has been invoked on behalf of the sick, especially those afflicted with illnesses of the throat.  Next Sunday, February 5, Fr Wood will offer traditional throat blessings in the Lady Chapel.  St Blaise (also spelled Blase and Blasius) was a 3rd century physician who became Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia, during a time of great persecution under the Emperor Licinius.  St Blaise hid out in a cave on Mt Argeus, and his cult spread throughout the entire Church in the Middle Ages because he was reputed to have miraculously cured a little boy who nearly died when a fishbone stuck in his throat.


Compline at the Advent—Sunday, February 12, at 8 pm—On Sunday, February 12, at 8:00 pm, join us for the ancient liturgy of Compline, preceded by Lucernarium, an evening service of lamp-lighting.  We pray Compline on the second Sunday of every month at 8:00 pm in the nave.  There is particular need for parishioners familiar with liturgical practice at the Advent to participate, so if you are interested in helping celebrate this service of prayer before bedtime in the custom of early Christian monasticism, please contact Fr Hanson (frhanson@theadventboston.org) or Fr. Wood (frwood@theadventboston.org).


Confirmation Classes Set to Begin:  The Advent offers confirmation classes every year for those who wish to be confirmed or received into the Anglican Communion. The next Confirmation service will be Saturday, April 29, and we are planning classes for Lent.  Adults and teens who are interested should email frwood@theadventboston.org for more information.


MISSION & OUTREACH CORNER


Volunteer Opportunity—Serve at Common Cathedral Sunday, February, 19 from Noon to 2:30 pm.  Amanda Grant-Rose preached at the Advent in November, then shared with our Mission & Outreach Team ways our parish could partner to serve Boston’s un-housed community.  A team from the Advent will serve lunch at their Boston Common worship service on Sunday, February 19, from noon until 2:30 pm.  We need a team of eight volunteers—would you please be one of them?  For information or to volunteer, contact Ali White at alinebwhite@gmail.com or 802-323-6652, or Father Wood at cubswn@gmail.com.


ODDS & ENDS


Children’s Hands-On Arts Festival—Friday and Saturday, February 17 & 18 at Park Street Church.  Our friends across Boston Common at Park Street Church have invited Advent children and families to their fifth Children’s Hands-On Arts Festival on February 17 and 18.  Workshops on everything from drama to dance, classical music to culinary creation will encourage children ages 3 – 11 to explore new areas of interest as they grow.  Each workshop is a 20-minute presentation by leaders with training in their areas of expertise, then 35 minutes of hands-on experience for kids!  Families can attend an opening concert Friday night by Randall Goodgame regardless of whether they attend the Arts Festival workshops on Saturday.  The event is free and open to all (a free-will offering will be taken).  For more information or to register for the Arts Festival: http://www.parkstreet.org/artsfestival.


The flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish.  There are openings for flower memorials or thanksgivings for the High Altar on Sundays,  February 12 and 26.  If you are interested, please call Blenda Jeffry at 978-443-3519 (flowers.advent@gmail.com).


Discount Vouchers for the Boston Common Garage are available for $9.00 each from Deacon Daphne. You can find her between the 9:00 and 11:15 Masses at the Coffee Hour or Entr’acte. The vouchers can be used after 4:00 pm weekdays, and all day Saturday and Sunday. Questions? email: deaconnoyes@theadventboston.org.


STEWARDSHIP 2017


If you requested pledge envelopes on your pledge card, they can be found at the back of the Church in (it is devoutly to be hoped) alphabetical order. If you asked for envelopes and they are not there, please call the Parish Office (617-523-2377 ext 122, email: office@theadventboston.org.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
January 30 – February 5, 2017

Monday, January 30
7:00 pm: Girl Scout Leaders
7:00 pm: Recording Session

Tuesday, January 31
5:30 pm: Community Supper
7:00 pm: Recording Session

Wednesday, February 1
Brigid of Kildare
10:00 am: Bible Study
4:00 pm: Porcellians
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Recording Session

Thursday, February 2
8:30 am: Safe Church Training (all day)

Friday, February 3
Anskar of Hamburg
10:00 am: Play Group
11:00 am : Holy Hour

Saturday, February 4
Cornelius the Centurion

Sunday, February 5
The Solemnity of the Presentation of Our Lord (Candlemas)
Healing Services after all Masses
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
10:15 am: Entr’acte / Church School
11:15 am: Solemn Mass

“Jesus Begins: Call, Communion & Commission” // A Sermon by Fr. Sammy Wood

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany (Year A)
“Jesus Begins: Call, Communion & Commission” // A Sermon by Fr. Sammy Wood
Amos 3.1-8
Psalm 139.1-17
1 Corinthians 1.10-17
Matthew 4.12-23

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

I know it’s just January, but look how far we’ve come: Through the suspended animation of Advent to Jesus’ birth at Christmas, to his appearance to the Gentiles at Epiphany, just last week to Jesus’ baptism, now today Jesus begins his public life. He leaves his hometown of Nazareth to live in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. This region — we visited it on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land a few years ago — it is part of Israel’s “Breadbasket”, surprisingly green and fertile. So even though Capernaum was small, say fewer than 15,000 inhabitants, the Galilee fed a whole country, and it stood on an important trade route between Syria and Egypt, so it was densely populated with all kinds of people — Jews and Gentiles, Romans and traveling merchants. One commentary says “Nowhere could Jesus have had such a change of gaining a large following as in Galilee.” That’s just what Jesus sets out to do.

Typically I have 2 or 3 (sometimes more) main points in my sermons, but today I really have just 1 point. One point, but I want to make it 3 times, in 3 different ways. And here’s the one point: Jesus’ call to communion leads to commission. Let’s look at that through 3 “lenses”:

The first lens is today’s story in Matthew’s gospel: Jesus’ call to communion led to commission for the earliest disciplesFrom that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Matt. 4.17-20)

Here’s what I find interesting about this story. Matthew says nothing at all about why they followed Jesus. Nothing about the psychology of the response, nothing about the actual “content” of the call, just that Jesus called, and they came. Immediately, they followed. That sounds strange to modern ears. If you want me to do something, you’ve got to sell me. Lay out your plan, pitch me an idea, get me interested in your cause, and maybe I’ll go along. But not Jesus in this story.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer thought this was remarkable, too. In The Cost of Discipleship, he asks why the disciples left their nets, and he says

For the simple reason that the cause behind the immediate following of call by response is Jesus Christ himself. It is Jesus who calls, and because it is Jesus, [they follow] at once. This encounter is a testimony to the absolute, direct, and unaccountable authority of Jesus. There is no need of any preliminaries, and no other consequence but obedience to the call. Because Jesus is the Christ, he has the authority to call and to demand obedience to his word. Jesus summons men to follow him not as a teacher or a pattern of the good life, but as the Christ, the Son of God . . . . [T]here is no road to faith or discipleship, no other road — only obedience to the call of Jesus.

Somehow the disciples saw through to the heart of things — they heard Jesus’ voice and knew he had authority to call them to leave everything behind and follow him without question or hesitation.

And their response was to change the course of their lives to be with — to have communion with — this man. There’s a word the church uses for this change of course, this turning around and moving in the other direction — “repentance.” Metanoia. And only once the disciples changed course to go with Jesus, to have communion with him, did their commission become clear. And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. (Matt. 4.23) Going with Jesus meant a commissioning into these three streams of work Jesus was going: (1) teaching, (2) proclaiming the gospel, and (3) healing. If that’s what Jesus was doing, then they’d do it too. Their call to communion carried this commission.

The second lens — The second way Jesus’ call to communion leads to commission is in the life of every Christian. What do I mean? Jesus’ call comes to each one of us to follow or not to follow.

How do we become Christians? Take my kids as examples — Ellie and Patrick and Flannery, all three were baptized as infants. When they were just a few days old, Renee and I stood with their godparents at a baptismal font, and we took vows on their behalf. We renounced Satan and the spiritual forces of wickedness. We renounced the evil powers of this world and all sinful desires that draw us from the love of God. We turned to Jesus as Savior, putting our trust in his grace and love, promising to follow and obey him as Lord of our lives. And like that (snap), my kids were Christians. But that’s not the end of the story. Last year at Ellie’s confirmation, she made those promises her promises. She heard Jesus’ voice and answered for herself, and someday, God willing, her brother and sister will too. God willing, all of us will answer that call.

And like the first disciples, if we would answer Jesus’ call, it always means changing course to enter into deeper communion with him. That’s repentance. Dallas Willard famously said repentance is: “To reconsider your strategy for living based on the news of God’s Kingdom that is available in Jesus.” I like that.

What is our strategy for living? Christians swap our strategy for God’s strategy, we repent and we run with all our strength to follow Jesus. Not just at our confirmations; repentance isn’t a one-and-done proposition, so God gave us sacramental confession. We go to confession to re-up over and over again, living lives of constant course correction — admitting we have strayed, feeling sadness for how we’ve abandoned God, and firmly purposing amendment of life from that point on. Then we get on the T, and we get angry at the woman whose umbrella is dripping on our shoes, and before you know it, we need to repent again. Growing in repentance takes our whole lives long.

And, like the disciples, following Jesus through repentance leads each of us as individuals and all of us collectively as the church into commission. Remember Jesus was teaching, preaching and healing. Matthew Green says “Wherever the church is truly carrying out the work of the kingdom, those three strands — challenging preaching, clear teaching, and healing (of physical disease, inner hurts and grip by dark forces) — will be seen.”

The last lens: Jesus’ call to communion led to commission for his first disciples; his call to communion leads to commission in the life of every Christian today; and, you may not see it, but Jesus’ call to communion is leading to commission right here, today, even as we speak. Look at your bulletin for a second — Where it says “The Liturgy of the Word,” that’s the first half of the mass. That’s when the call comes. From Amos, from St. Paul in 1 Corinthians, form Jesus himself in Matthew’s gospel. The Liturgy of the Word is God’s call.

The hinge event comes in just a moment when we’ll all have a decision to make. When we kneel to confess “we have sinned against God in thought and word and deed,” don’t just go through the motions, mindlessly repeating words we’ve all got memorized. Really think. Think about your current strategy of living. Are you running after achievement or financial security? Do you want acclaim and applause, to hear someone tell you “you’re doing a great job, you are really valuable and important”? Are you running after pleasure or just running from God? Whatever your life strategy, to repent is to reconsider that strategy in light of the gospel. And then run to Jesus. That’s the second half of the mass, the “Liturgy of the Eucharist.” Run to communion.

Call . . . communion . . . leading inexorably to commission. Go, when the mass is ended, back into the world. Go do the work Jesus is doing — teach our friends another story about the world, a truer story; proclaim the gospel that God has come to reconcile the world to himself in Jesus; and heal, as far as it lies in us to do so, every brokenness we can reach.

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Go Deeper //

  • Michael Green, The Message of Matthew: The Kingdom of Heaven, TBST (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-varsity, 2000).
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, rev’d ed. (New York: MacMillan, 1963): 61-62.
  • Click here for audio of this sermon.

An Instructed Eucharist

(20 February 2011)

I. Introduction

Every service of Christian worship is a drama – a drama in which we enact, proclaim, and, as well, participate in the mighty acts of God. That’s what we are doing this morning; that’s what we do each time the Holy Communion – the Eucharist – is celebrated. Our drama today will be a little different, for we shall stop the action at certain points to explain its significance. We are doing this so that all of us may come to a deeper understanding of our worship and its meaning and, thereby, may participate with more enthusiasm, understanding, and joy – and ultimately with greater spiritual benefit.

Right now the stage is empty. The principal actors have not yet entered – though you and I are here and we are also actors in the drama. (Remember that. Never forget it. We too, are actors in the drama. We stand. We sit. We kneel. We speak and sing. We make various gestures which allow us to participate, enter into, and be involved in the drama of the Mass.) Soon, however, the principal players will arrive. They will make their entrance in procession as we sing a hymn.

There’s more to this entrance than just getting them in where they ought to be. It’s rather like the rising of a curtain as a play begins. The curtain begins to rise and we know that suddenly we shall be carried into another world, the world created by the play. The Entrance Hymn with its procession is just like that. It’s a sign. It signals to us that here in Church we are about to be swept into another reality – another world – not the ordinary world we live in day to day – but the extraordinary world of God, our world as He created and intended it to be.

II. After Entrance Hymn. Prayer Book: Rite I, pp. 323 – 325; Rite II, pp. 355-357

Ever since the Resurrection of our Lord, Christians have gathered together week by week, sometimes day by day, to perform one particular action – remembering His death and receiving His life with bread and wine and prayer. Many things in the Church have changed, but this one act has remained basically the same. It has been thought so essential that Christians have often risked their lives and sometimes lost their lives just to do this thing. It has been performed in innumerable different ways from the simplest gathering with bread and wine to the most complex and ornate ceremonial. It has been known by many names: the Holy Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Communion, the Divine Liturgy, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Essentially, however, the action is the same, and it’s not at all forcing a point to say that the observance of this act is one thing that has formed a bond of continuity over the many centuries of the Church’s existence and across the painful divisions that separate Christians. The various Churches may think differently about the Eucharist and many perform it in different ways, but most agree that it is necessary and fundamental and commanded by our Lord.

A priest cannot celebrate the Eucharist alone. The Church forbids this, for the Liturgy is not a private thing. The Eucharist is the Church’s Act, and it can only take place in a community, performed communally by a part of the whole Church. Again, it is a drama: many people participating together in one action. From earliest times it has been called the Liturgy, from leitourgia, a Greek word which roughly translated means “work,” specifically, public work, a work of the people. The Eucharist is the Church’s work par excellence. In it the Church does all those things which make the Church what it is: it hears the word of God in the Scriptures, praises God for His majesty and love, offers prayer for the necessities of life, and partakes of the Sacrament of bread and wine which the Lord has ordained. The Liturgy is the Church’s work, and in this work the Church becomes in a very real and obvious sense what it is: God’s people, the Body of Christ gathered to acknowledge His real and living presence in Word and Sacrament and to feed upon the grace and power which Christ gives us through Word and Sacrament.

If a priest occupies a prominent place in the celebration of the Liturgy, this is because the Church has singled out particular persons to be her instruments and preside in the carrying out of this particular action. This morning Father Wood is our presider, the celebrant, of the Liturgy. He performs this function in the name of our Bishop who is the normal presider at every act within his jurisdiction. We have symbolized this already by the Processional Cross which brings the principal ministers into the Church. The Cross here is said to be a sign of the Bishop. The Bishop leads his people into the Church and to the Altar where they will meet Christ.

The celebrant, then, is the Bishop’s deputy in the Liturgy and, as such, has a specific function, a particular role, in the liturgical drama. The ancient vestment which he wears, called a chasuble, indicates this role. Supporting parts in the drama are played by the Deacon and Sub-deacon, who also wear vestments which indicate their function as assisting ministers. They and others at the Altar may be conspicuous by their dress, but they are no more important than you and me in the congregation. Because . . . again . . . the Eucharist is the action of the whole Church. It is always together that the Eucharist is celebrated – by a body, by a community. The congregation’s participation in hymn, in response, in prayer is absolutely essential.

The procession has entered now. The stage, so to speak, is set and full. And we begin our work by blessing God. The ordinary world around us does not bless God. The every-day world largely ignores God. But in this other world, this extra-ordinary and essential world of the Liturgy, God is indeed blessed. This sets the tone. “Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” we say, “And blessed be His Kingdom, now and forever.” We then pray to God to prepare us for what is to come. We ask Him to send His Holy Spirit into our hearts – to make our intentions pure and to enable us to praise and love Him with all our being. Afterwards we acclaim and praise Him – merciful and glorious, glorious in His mercy and love for man. Depending on the season, one or the other or sometimes both of two very ancient hymns – dating from the fourth century – follow immediately. The Kyrie eleison (from the Greek for “Lord have mercy”) or the Gloria in excelsis (from the Latin for “Glory to God in the Highest”). Both of these come from the East and have been a part of the Church’s worship from earliest times. The Kyrie has a double emphasis. It was originally a shout of praise directed towards God or even an earthly ruler. It is like the Biblical words “Alleluia” or “Hosanna”. It can be understood as the joyful cry “The Lord is merciful!” In another context it can be understood as a plea for mercy from God. The Gloria which often comes next is a wonderful and ecstatic hymn of praise to God acclaiming His splendor and His majesty in Christ. Its tone is one of jubilant celebration, so much so that during the more somber seasons of Advent and Lent we leave it out of the Liturgy – to return on the great feasts of Christmas and Easter.

The Kyrie and Gloria ended, the celebrant calls us to prayer and prays on our behalf the collect for the day. This is a short prayer which refers to the feastday we may be observing or to the lessons which will next be read. It collects together or summarizes the themes which will be the focus of the liturgy.

III. After The Epistle. Prayer Book: Rite I, pp. 325 – 326; Rite II, pp. 357-358

The action of the Eucharist consists of Word and Sacrament. Both are fundamental parts of the life and faith of every Christian. At this point we are engaged in the Service of the Word. We have just heard a reading from the Old Testament – those books which record the history and yearning of the Hebrew people and which look forward to Christ – and from the Epistles – letters of instruction written to members of the early Church. This first part of the Service, together with the sermon, has its origin in the worship of the ancient Jewish Synagogue. Like that it is primarily a service of teaching and instruction.

Here at The Church of the Advent and in most Churches lay people who are members of the congregation read the first two lessons. One particular reading, however, has by an early tradition always been reserved to the clergy: the solemn reading of the Gospel. Doubtless you’ve noticed that we read the Gospel lesson at Mass in a manner very different from the lessons. For instance, the singing of a hymn or a chant and a procession precede this reading. Much more solemnity, more ceremony is involved in the proclamation of the Gospel. Why is this? Again, because the structure of our Christian faith is two-fold, Word and Sacrament. This doesn’t simply describe what Christianity is from the outside, but from the inside: how it works as a religion. It means something important and profound: that we seek and find Christ’s presence in the Word and in the Sacrament. At the reading of the Gospel Christ makes Himself present to us in his Word just as surely as he was present with his disciples two thousand years ago. For this reason before and after the proclamation of the Gospel we hail and acknowledge not the reading, but Christ himself, the Word of God, who is mystically present in these words of Scripture. We stand at the reading of the Gospel and face the Book in order to be addressed and encountered by the One who comes to us in His Word. “Glory to You, Lord Christ,” we say. Because the reading or singing of the Gospel is such a special act, it is reserved for members of the ordained ministry – a priest, a bishop, or a deacon. The Gospel Book, itself a symbol of Christ, is brought in the procession to the midst of the Church to symbolize the coming of the good news of Christ to His people.

At a Solemn Eucharist, the book is censed. The use of incense is deeply rooted in the Scriptures and in the traditional practice of the Church. At this point in the service it is derived from the practice of the ancient Roman Empire in which incense was carried before important personages as a mark of their rank. And so, before the reading of the Gospel we greet our Lord, our King, with incense – a mark of the respect and homage which He deserves.

IV. After the Gospel. Prayer Book: Rite I, pp. 358-359; Rite II, pp. 358 – 359

The lessons have been read; the Gospel proclaimed. At this point in a normal service the sermon would be preached. Afterwards we respond to God’s Word to us in Scripture and sermon by declaring our common faith in the words of the Nicene Creed. This is an outline of belief which the Church adopted some 1600 years ago in a council at Nicaea, a town in present-day Turkey. It was chosen then to be and probably still is the best statement of what Christians believe – a summary of the meaning and hope of the Faith. In the Creed we affirm our belief in the mighty acts of God for our salvation – acts of power and love – the reason we are here today.

V. After the Creed. Prayer Book: Rite I, pp. 359-360,; Rite II, pp. 383-395

The Liturgy continues with prayer. Prayer, for the Church and for every Christian, is like the bloodstream and the blood. It joins everything together and it brings life. Without blood the body dies. Without prayer our faith becomes boring, sterile, and dead.

In the intercessions we present to God in prayer our own needs and necessities, and the particular needs of those close to us, family or friends, who may be sick or troubled, and the needs of the Church and the world. Then in prayer we confess our sins – those acts in our lives which have denied and stifled Christ’s working in us and have taken us away from Him.

Christ promised to the Church the power to bind and to lose, that is, the power to forgive sins in his name. The celebrant, then, on behalf of the Church pronounces over us the Absolution, a formal declaration of the forgiveness of our sins which Christ promises and gives to every Christian. And then, assured of Christ’s forgiveness, we greet one another in His name. It is sin that separates us one from another. It is sin that destroys the peace between us. In Christ our peace is restored.

VI. Before the Offertory.

In the early years of the Church’s life, if you had not yet been baptized, at this point in the Mass you would be made to leave the building. The Liturgy of the Sacrament, the second part of the Eucharist, was considered too sacred for the eyes of those who had not been initiated into the mystery of Christ’s Redemption. The unbaptized were expelled and in some places the doors to the Church were locked. It was with great seriousness and even awe that the early Christians regarded the miracle of the Mass.

The action of the Liturgy now moves from the pulpit and the lectern – the place of the Word – to the Altar – the locus of Christ’s sacramental presence, as bread and wine are brought forward in the Offertory and prepared.

We are accustomed to think of the Offertory as the Collection – the collection of our offerings of money which we return to God as stewards, in thanksgiving, for the support of His Church. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and the practice is to be encouraged! In the beginning, this was not the case. In the ancient Church money played no part in the Offertory. Rather the Offertory consisted of the gathering together and bringing to the Altar of bread and wine – bread and wine which often each person brought individually to the Church.

Bread and wine and the Offertory itself are powerful symbols. In the first place, bread and wine represent in microcosm the whole life of humanity – the life and work of men and women in the Creation, which God has entrusted to man’s care. The bread is not merely grain; the wine is not merely the juice of the grape. They are more than that. They go beyond simple nature. Rather, they are grain and grapes which have been transformed by human life and work. In the second place, we may see the Offertory as a symbol of the Christian life itself – these elements of bread and wine, like the life of the Christians, are given to up God to be received back infused and alive with the presence, and life, and grace of Christ. Members of the congregation – representatives of us all – bring forward the gifts which we shall receive back changed and transformed and which by the grace and power of Christ will transform us.

At a Solemn Eucharist incense is used at this point. Here the symbolism is very Biblical and Jewish, with its origin in the practice of the ancient temple in Jerusalem. The incense represents prayer ascending to heaven. The gifts of bread and wine, those serving at the altar, and the congregation are censed to signify that all of us together are being swept up into that movement of prayer and offering which is the Eucharist.

After the Offertory. Prayer Book: Rite I, pp. 333 – 338: Rite II, pp. 361-376

This last part of the Liturgy – its climax and conclusion – stems from the last supper of Jesus with his disciples. Strangely enough, we don’t know a great deal about the particulars of this meal, which has so often been repeated. The Gospels don’t tell us much. What we can say for certain is that Jesus commanded the Church to “Do this in remembrance of Me” and that Christians have remembered his command and repeated this meal over and over throughout the centuries. Their experience has always been this: that He was present with them when they obeyed His command.

This part of the Eucharist – the Liturgy of the Sacrament – begins with the celebrant’s exhortation to “Lift up your hearts.” “Be joyful,” the priest tells us, “Sursum corda!” “Lift up your hearts.” The key to the meaning of the Prayers to follow lies in what the celebrant says next: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” for the Eucharistic Prayer is primarily a giving thanks to God for His acts of power in creation and redemption. This is, after all, just what Jesus did at that Last Supper: “He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it . . . he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them.” This same action – the giving of thanks – is the celebrant’s and also our action in the consecration of the gifts of bread and wine. For this reason we call the consecratory prayer “The Great Thanksgiving.” In fact, this strange Greek word “Eucharist” which we’ve been using means exactly that – to give thanks.

We give thanks to God first by repeating in the Sanctus the hymn which Isaiah the prophet heard sung around the throne of God – “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.” Next, we praise the one who will soon come to us in the Sacrament of his body and blood, repeating the words of the crowd which greeted Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday – “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” And in the prayer of consecration we give thanks to God for His mighty work in Jesus, the Christ. We pray that He will bless the gifts of bread and wine – that they may become the Body and Blood of Christ; that we, being made holy by the Spirit, may find our real food and real drink in His Body and Blood. This is the Christian sacrifice, the holy sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in which we recall thankfully the sacrifice of God in Christ. Here at The Church of the Advent the tower bell is rung at certain points during this prayer, namely at the Words of Institution: “This is my body. This is my blood.” The bells have their origin in the medieval Church. Their function was then and is now to alert us and focus our attention on the central mystery and miracle of the Liturgy – the coming of Christ to His people. The bells are rung and the celebrant lifts high the host and chalice for all to see.

In the Episcopal Church we believe that something really occurs to the bread and wine when they are consecrated by the priest and the Church. In this we are joined by the great and historic tradition of Christianity – by the Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Churches, and several of the Reformed Churches. Some say that the Liturgy is only a kind of memorial: we eat bread and drink wine and remember Jesus when we do it. Certainly that’s true, but in the Anglican Communion we claim that there is more to it than that. We believe that when we gather together and give thanks over the bread and wine, Jesus Christ – as he promised – will make himself present to us, sacramentally, in the bread and wine. This is the faith of the Church. Moreover, and most important this has been the experience of the Church from the very beginning. The bread and wine become sacraments – instruments, signs effective in themselves – by which Christ Himself gives us his presence, and his power, and his life. God in Christ is always working to be near to us – to be close to us, and with us. He is, of course, continually present to us at every time and in every place, but in the Holy Communion He is as near to us as the food we eat and the wine we drink.

VIII. After the Communion. Prayer Book; Rite I, pp. 339: Rite II, pp. 365-366

We have received Christ’s Body and Blood. What else is there now to do, but again give thanks? We do so in a concluding prayer and the Liturgy ends as the celebrant blesses us and we are dismissed. We have celebrated the drama of God’s mighty acts; we have partaken of the Body and Blood of his Son; we have been swept into the extraordinary world of the Liturgy. We are dismissed to go out into the everyday world and take with us what we have received here, to spread abroad the love and power and presence of Christ. And what is our response to this? Once again – and how appropriate that these are the very last words spoken in the Mass! – “Thanks be to God.”

A Note about the term Transubstantiation

Many people equate the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist with the theory of Transubstantiation.  They are, in fact, not exactly the same thing.  The doctrine of the Real Presence asserts what the Church has believed, taught, and experienced since earliest times, i.e. that Christ is really and truly present to his people in the Sacrament of the Altar.  Transubstantiation is one theory among the many which seek to explain how Christ is present; to articulate the mechanics, so to speak, of His presence.  It was developed in the thirteenth century by St. Thomas Aquinas in order to combat rather crude theories of the Eucharist that gave rise to superstition.  St. Thomas’ explanation depended, as did his theology, on the philosophy and metaphysics of Aristotle.

By the time of the Reformation an intellectual reaction had taken place against St. Thomas’ thought, which had become the official teaching of the Roman Church, and also against the Aristotelianism upon which it is based.  Luther and the English Reformers protested that Aquinas’ doctrine of transubstantiation per se can nowhere be found in Scripture or the early teaching of the Church.  They were right;  it can’t.  It was, in their view, an illegitimate development which was a departure.  They never, however, denied the doctrine of the Real Presence;  indeed, they defended it.  It was not until the second generation of the Reformation came along that this fundamental and scripturally-based doctrine was questioned and by some denied.

Even if we regard the doctrine of Transubstantiation as simply one way of explaining the gift of Christ’s Real Presence in the Mass, there is still some value in continuing to use the word.  All accounts of how Christ is present – even those which the Continental and English Reformers came up with – attempt to make it clear and undoubted that a miracle is taking place in the bread and the wine.  For some in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, Transubstantiation – in a metaphorical rather than metaphysical sense – remains the best term to point to this miracle – the mystery of Jesus’ Real Presence with his people, veiled in bread and wine.

Be that as it may, a good way to end this discussion is to quote verses on the matter attributed to a very clever and crafty lady, Elizabeth I.

His was the word that spake it,
He took the bread and brake it;
And what that word doth make it,
That I believe and take it.

This Week’s Announcements, January 22-28, 2017

The flowers at the High Altar are given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Peter Ward Britton.


If you are visiting or new to the Advent, we hope that you will feel welcome and at home. Please fill out a visitor’s/newcomer’s card so that we will have a record of your visit here and can keep in touch.


All persons baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit are invited to the Altar to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you wish to receive a blessing, come to the Altar and cross your arms over your chest.


TODAY!


9:00 Coffee Hour.  Rob Braman & Rachel Johnson and John Boyd host the Coffee Hour this morning.  Next week there is no 9 am coffee hour because of the Annual Meeting. New coffee hour hosts are always needed; please contact Barbara Boles by email bbolesster@gmail.com, or telephone (617-501-7572) if you’re interested or have questions about what is entailed.

11:15 Coffee Hour.  Hour.  Kyle Pilares and Christopher Laconi host this morning’s Coffee Hour.  Next week the hosts will be Michael Gnozzio and others. We are in need of more volunteers to do the coffee hour.  To view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Marcos or Daniel German-Domingues (mrbgd@hotmail.com or DGDomingues@outlook.com), Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com).


The Sound of Silence:  Seventeen years ago, a new computer system was installed to operate the Advent Organ and replace a room full of aging mechanical relays.  Last week, thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous parishioner, we were able to fully upgrade the organ’s computer system and increase its lightning strike protection.  The organ will not be played this morning, but the work will be completed and the organ will be fully operational early next week; many thanks to Jonathan Ambrosino and Richard Houghten, who did this work with such skill and expediency.


Entr’acteThis morning Fr Hanson concludes his presentation on the theology which led up to the formulation of the Nicene Creed.  That’s at 10:30 in the Library.  There will be no Entr’acte next Sunday, January 29, because of the Annual Parish Meeting that day.  The following Sunday, February 5, and on subsequent Sundays, February 12, 19, and 26, Fr Warren will lead a discussion of the teaching and practice of Islam.  Thereafter, during Lent Jim Wood, our Parish Administrator and scholar of the Bible to boot, will lead a presentation of the Passion Narratives in the four Gospels.


THIS WEEK!


Bible Study Continues—Wednesdays at 10 am—Parish Library—Interested in studying the Bible with others from our parish?  Join us in the Library on Wednesday mornings at 10 am.  This week we begin Revelation!


Pray for Christian Unity—January 25, 5:45 pm, Trinity Church in Copley Square—Join Christians around the country for a Week of Prayer for Christian Unity January 18 to 25. UniteBoston is coordinating several evening collaborative gatherings of prayer and worship at host churches in Boston and Cambridge, and Fr Wood will take part with others in the culminating event at Trinity Church on Wednesday, January 25 at 5:45 pm.  For details, visit uniteboston.com/wpcu, or contact Fr. Wood (cubswn@gmail.com).


COMING UP!
ANNUAL PARISH MEETING


An Important Message From the Clerk:  The Vestry has set the next Annual Meeting of the Parish for Sunday, January 29, 2017.  At that meeting there will be elections for Vestry and for Diocesan Convention.  To qualify to vote in a Parish election, you must be a baptized Christian, at least 16 years of age, who makes a regular, recorded contribution to support the Parish for the preceding year.  You must also subscribe to the authority of the Parish By-Laws and the Canons of the Diocese.

Under the By-Laws of the Parish, the Clerk is responsible for maintaining the Electoral Roll.  The Electoral Roll for the upcoming Annual Meeting is now posted outside the Parish Office.  It consists of those who have pledged or made a similarly recorded qualifying contribution to the General Fund of the Parish during the past year.  Your name must be on the Roll in order to vote.  Any changes to the Roll must be made before the Parish Meeting commences.  Please inspect the list and let the Clerk know if you think there is an error.

The Advent needs and values the participation of new parishioners, both in Parish life and Parish governance.  If you are new, please be sure to make a pledge for 2016 so that you can vote in the January, 2017 Annual Meeting.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

In accordance with Article IV, Section 2, of the By-Laws of the Parish of the Advent, the Clerk has posted the Warrant for the Annual Meeting in the lobby of the Parish Hall,  The Vestry has called the Annual Meeting for Sunday, January 29, 2017, at 10:00 am.

Faithfully yours,
Frederick Ou, Clerk


The Nominating Committee has proposed the following persons to stand for election to the Vestry at the Annual Meeting on January 29, 2017:

Eric Baldwin
C. Thomas Brown
Christopher Laconi
Philip Le Quesne
Kyle Pilares
Tony Pulsone
Rachael Ringenberg

There are four three-year terms and one year of Nathan Cleveland’s term to be filled.

Also nominated for one-year terms are:

For Clerk:
Frederick Ou

For Treasurer:
Adam Rutledge

Delegate to the Diocesan Convention (and the Boston Harbor Deanery) (two to be elected):
Betsy Ridge Madsen
Julianne Turé

Alternate Delegates (one to be elected):
Robb Scholten

Photographs of the nominees accompanied by statements of their intention to serve will be posted in the lobby of Moseley Hall.


Nominations from the Floor of the Annual Meeting:  The Vestry has adopted a process for nominations from the floor after the Nominating Committee has announced the candidates which it proposes.  Any four members of the Parish can nominate a candidate by filling out and signing a nomination form that gives the name of the nominee and the office to which that person is nominated.  This process does not preclude nominations at the Meeting itself; but it does permit the name of the nominee to appear in print on the ballot.  The Nominating Committee may also adopt such nominees from the floor as part of its proposed slate as well.  If you have any questions about this process, please speak with the Clerk (Frederick Ou) or his predecessor (C. Thomas Brown), or call the Parish Office.  A statement describing qualifications for Officers and Members of the Vestry may be found at the rear of the church.


The Annual Parish Meeting is Sunday, January 29, 2017.  Contributions to the 2016 Annual Report must be in the Parish Office no later than 12:00 Noon on Friday, January 6, 2017.  All heads of committees or groups are expected to submit a report.  Electronic submission is preferred.


MISSION & OUTREACH CORNER


The Boston Harbor Deanery will be holding a Stop Hunger Now event hosted by the Church of the Advent this Saturday, January 28, from 10:00 am-12:00 pm.

What is Stop Hunger Now?  Stop Hunger Now is driven by the vision of a world without hunger. Their mission is to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable people and creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources.  To that end packages of dry food, enough for one meal, are assembled by volunteers and are then sent to places where there is a shortage of food and people are hungry.

Between 2 and 3 volunteers will be needed from our church to participate in the event which will be run by a team from Stop Hunger Now.  Those who have done this before say that it is quite a lot of fun.  There will be music and perhaps even dancing !  Please volunteer to help package meals and be able to arrive 15 minutes prior to the event.  To signup please contact Advent’s seminarian Eric Fialho at efialho@eds.edu.


ODDS & ENDS


The flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish.  There are openings for  flower memorials or thanksgivings for the High Altar on Sundays, January 29, February 12 and 26.  If you are interested, please call Blenda Jeffry at 978-443-3519 (flowers.advent@gmail.com).


Discount Vouchers for the Boston Common Garage are available for $9.00 each from Deacon Daphne. You can find her between the 9:00 and 11:15 Masses at the Coffee Hour or Entr’acte. The vouchers can be used after 4:00 pm weekdays, and all day Saturday and Sunday. Questions? email: deaconnoyes@theadventboston.org.


STEWARDSHIP 2017


If you requested pledge envelopes on your pledge card, they can be found at the back of the Church in (it is devoutly to be hoped) alphabetical order. If you asked for envelopes and they are not there, please call the Parish Office (617-523-2377 ext 122, email: office@theadventboston.org.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
January 23-29, 2017

Monday, January 23
Phillips Brooks
5:15 pm: Girl Scouts

Tuesday, January 24
5:30 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, January 25
The Conversion of St Paul
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bellringing

Thursday, January 26
Timothy & Titus
10:00 am: Play Group

Friday, January 27
John Chrysostom
10:00 am: Play Group

Saturday, January 28
Agnes of Rome
10:00 am: Stop Hunger Now Event
10:oo am: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Sunday, January 29
The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
10:00 am: Annual Parish Meeting
11:15 am: Solemn Mass

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Allan B. Warren III at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, January 15, 2017, The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

From St. John’s Gospel, the word of John the Baptist: “I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

And from St. Matthew’s Gospel, the voice from Heaven: “Thou art my Son, my beloved.”

This morning for the sermon I want to do a bit of Bible study. Last week we celebrated the baptism of Jesus by John, and we heard St. Matthew’s account of that event. Today we heard what would appear to be another version of the same incident, reported this time by St. John. I want us to think about the Baptism accounts and look carefully at what Scripture says, for there is no doubt that His baptism was a critical moment in the life of Jesus. Other than the feeding of the five thousand, the Last Supper and his trial and Crucifixion, it is the only event all four gospels report. Not only that, in all four Gospels it marks the beginning of His ministry of preaching and teaching, and so I think that it is very important, even crucial, to understand what is going on.  Perhaps  indeed, to understand  this moment in His life will bring us to a deeper understanding of the meaning of all of His life.

As I said, today we heard about the baptism from St. John’s Gospel, and it is not so much a report as it is a memory. The Baptist is with a group of his disciples when Jesus approaches. “Behold the Lamb of God!  Behold him who takes away the sin of the world,” John exclaims, and then he recalls something which happened before, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’  And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

St. John’s account is significantly different from that of the other three Gospels. In the first place, John knows nothing about a family relationship between Jesus and the Baptist. St. Luke has it that they are cousins, but John would seem to deny this:  “I myself did not know him,”  the Baptist says.

Secondly, the first three gospels picture the aftermath, so to speak, of His baptism as an interior and spiritual event experienced by Jesus alone.  In Matthew, Mark and Luke it is either stated or implied that only Jesus saw the heavens opened and only He heard the voice proclaim. In John, however, the baptism would seem to have been a public event.  Public enough, at least, for the Baptist to have been a witness.  And another divergence is this: in John’s Gospel the voice from heaven is spoken to the Baptist not to Jesus and it is John the Baptist, not the celestial voice, who proclaims Jesus to be the Son of God.

But if there are differences between John and the other Gospels, there is also one very striking, in fact surprising similarity:  the image of the dove.  All four gospels liken the Spirit’s descent upon Jesus to that of a dove.  It’s odd that few scholars make much of this, but there it is.  Indeed, it is the only explicit detail upon which John and his three colleagues agree.

Now what does all this mean?  Let’s think together.

You will remember, I am sure, that the fourth Gospel is rather sparing.  It reports considerably fewer events in the life of Jesus than do the other three, and when it does report an incident, its primary intention is to make clear the meaning of that event.  St John seeks to make explicit that which is implicit, to make public that which may have been hidden or concealed.  And so it should come as no surprise that what is reported by Matthew, Mark and Luke as something interior and spiritual is changed by John into a public proclamation.  “Thou art my beloved Son” – heard by Jesus – becomes  “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

But what about the voice that speaks to Jesus?  “Thou art my Son, my beloved in whom I am well pleased.”  What  does it mean ?  And what kind of interior event is Scripture describing ?  The answer  to both of these questions is the same and involves a look at what was spoken from heaven, for you see the voice is actually quoting two verses of Scripture.  The one is from the Book of Psalms (2:7), and at the time it was understood to refer to the Messiah who will come to save Israel.  The other is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah  (42:1) and it describes a man who will suffer  and by his suffering will somehow bring redemption to the world.

Isaiah’s idea is unique in Scripture.  As Fr. Wood pointed out last Sunday, it stands alone. Suffering, if not simple misfortune, was usually seen as a divine punishment.  One might be chastened by God and learn from it – a good thing – but that was as far as it goes.  How could suffering be anything more than that? Isaiah was convinced that it could.

Moreover, as unique as Isaiah’s idea may have been, the bringing together of these two ideas – the Messiah  and the man who suffers for others – it is so unique, so unparalleled as to be outrageous.  This was a thought which had never been thought.  A suffering Messiah?  Impossible.  Triumph through pain?  Unheard of.  Redemption by defeat?  Ridiculous.  This was an idea which could only have come from heaven and at His baptism, it was spoken in the heaven of His heart.  And so, you see, as I understand it, this was the moment of our Lord’s answer to his call, the affirmation his vocation.  It was the event in which he decided actively to take upon Himself the destiny which God decreed.  To be the Messiah.  Yes.  To save Israel.  Yes.  To save humankind.  Yes.  And more: To save not by might, but by meekness. To conquer, by obedience. To triumph, by the enduring of hatred and pain, and by death.

The Cross, then, is there from the very beginning.  It’s not some terrible mistake, a dreadful injustice which befell a good man. No – suffering and death were there as part of His vocation from the beginning.  There He accepted them and took them upon Himself.  And everything that He will say, and everything that He will teach, and everything that He will do must be seen in that light.  In  the light of the Cross.

And at that moment of decision and vocation He was anointed by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.  As I said before, this is the only detail upon which all four gospels agree.  I should also tell you that here we once again come upon something unique. You and I are used to it.  We’ve heard the story again and again, and we’ve seen it depicted in paintings and windows.  The dove an image  of the Holy Spirit, an image of the power of the Spirit, of the anointing of the Spirit.  In fact, it is something new in Scripture. The association of the Spirit of God with a dove begins with the Gospels, specifically it begins with the accounts of Jesus’ baptism.

The question of its meaning, then, imposes itself, and this is the answer. The dove was an animal of sacrifice.  If you could not afford a sheep or a goat or a bull, you offered a dove in sacrifice  And certain rituals specifically required a dove.  Remember.  At his Presentation in the Temple, Mary and Joseph offered two turtledoves, as the Law required.  And Hebrew lore and legend had it that often the dove willingly offered its neck to the knife.  That is to say, the dove allowed itself to be killed.  A dove was, therefore, a symbol of sacrifice, but even more than that, it was a symbol of self-sacrifice.

When Jesus is anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism – with the power of the Holy Spirit – it is not with a power of domination or might. Rather, it is the power to obey.  The power to sacrifice oneself.  The power willingly to give up one’s life. The power to let go of one’s very self.  It is the power to fulfill the destiny which God had decreed and to be the Messiah and the sacrificial lamb which would take away the sin of the world and bring us back to God.

And to that Lamb, the Lamb anointed by a dove, and destined to be slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8), to Him be ascribed all might, majesty, dominion, and glory, now and forever.

Amen.

Collect for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that thy people, illumined by thy Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This Week’s Announcements, January 15-21, 2017

The flowers at the High Altar are given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Cindy Nelson.


If you are visiting or new to the Advent, we hope that you will feel welcome and at home. Please fill out a visitor’s/newcomer’s card so that we will have a record of your visit here and can keep in touch.


All persons baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit are invited to the Altar to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you wish to receive a blessing, come to the Altar and cross your arms over your chest.


TODAY!


9:00 Coffee Hour.  Maggie Dunbar and others host the Coffee Hour this morning. New coffee hour hosts are always needed; please contact Barbara Boles by email bbolesster@gmail.com, or telephone (617-501-7572) if you’re interested or have questions about what is entailed.

11:15 Coffee Hour.  Hour.  John Ross Campbell and Alfred Duhamel host this morning’s Coffee Hour.  Next week the hosts will be Kyle Pilares and Christopher Laconi. We are in need of more volunteers to do the coffee hour.  To view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Marcos or Daniel German-Domingues (mrbgd@hotmail.com or DGDomingues@outlook.com), Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com).


Chalk that was blessed last Sunday can be found at the back of the Church along with a page describing how to use the chalk at your homes.


Advent 101—A Class for Newcomers—New to the Advent?  This morning, Fr Wood concludes a class designed to orient you to life at the Advent, introduce you to other newcomers and parishioners, and teach some basics about our history, worship and ministries.  That’s in the multi-purpose room next to the parish offices between the Masses.


Entr’acte:  Entr’acte will resume this morning  at 10:30 am in the Library with Fr Hanson continuing his very popular presentation on the theology which led up to the formulation of the Nicene Creed.  He will conclude this series the Sunday following.  There will be no Entr’acte on Sunday, January 29, because of the Annual Parish Meeting that day.  The following Sunday, February 5, and on subsequent Sundays, February 12, 19, and 26, Fr Warren will lead a discussion of the teaching and practice of Islam.  Thereafter, during Lent Jim Wood, our Parish Administrator and scholar of the Bible to boot, will lead a presentation of the Passion Narratives in the four Gospels.


Advent Tour:  This morning our Verger, Raymond Porter, will give a tour of the church building.  Ours is a fascinating, complicated, and historic building.  Mr Porter will provide a ten to fifteen minute overview of its many facets.  Meet him in the Baptistry.  The tour will begin immediately after the Postlude.


This afternoon—Organ Recital, Solemn Evensong & Benediction, and E&B Talk:  Our monthly service of Evensong & Benediction at the Advent resumes this afternoon, January 15.  The evening begins with a 4:30 organ recital by our own Katelyn Emerson, who will play the complete Symphonie Gothique of Charles-Marie Widor, based on Gregorian chant themes from Christmastide.  Solemn Evensong & Benediction follows at 5:00, featuring the Tallis Latin Evening Service, Oculi omnium by Byrd, and Howells’ setting of Behold, O God, our defender

Immediately following E&B, join us downstairs in Moseley Hall for a light supper and to hear a talk by our friend and neighbor in the Back Bay, Pastor Ingo Dutzmann of First Lutheran Church in Boston.  On October 31, 1517, a monk named Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, German, lighting the match that sparked the Protestant Reformation.  The Advent will observe the 500th anniversary of that momentous event all 2017 in forums like Entr’acte and a Luther reading group, and Pastor Dutzmann has agreed to kick off the year by speaking at our first E&B Talk.  His topic is “Martin Luther, Western Civilization’s Indispensable Man; how his courage of conscience helped define our guarantees of personal liberty!”  Evensong and the supper is a perfect way to cap off the Lord’s Day, particularly when we share them with our Lutheran friends in Boston, so please come join us!


THIS WEEK!


The Parish Office will be closed tomorrow for the Martin Luther King Birthday observance.  Morning Prayer will be cancelled.  A Mass will be celebrated at 12:15 pm.  Evening Prayer will be said at 5:30 pm.


Bible Study Continues—Wednesdays at 10 am—Parish Library—Interested in studying the Bible with others from our parish?  Join us in the Library on Wednesday mornings at 10 am.  This week we study the Epistle of Jude; next Wednesday we begin Revelation!


COMING UP!
ANNUAL PARISH MEETING


An Important Message From the Clerk:  The Vestry has set the next Annual Meeting of the Parish for Sunday, January 29, 2017.  At that meeting there will be elections for Vestry and for Diocesan Convention.  To qualify to vote in a Parish election, you must be a baptized Christian, at least 16 years of age, who makes a regular, recorded contribution to support the Parish for the preceding year.  You must also subscribe to the authority of the Parish By-Laws and the Canons of the Diocese.

Under the By-Laws of the Parish, the Clerk is responsible for maintaining the Electoral Roll.  The Electoral Roll for the upcoming Annual Meeting is now posted outside the Parish Office.  It consists of those who have pledged or made a similarly recorded qualifying contribution to the General Fund of the Parish during the past year.  Your name must be on the Roll in order to vote.  Any changes to the Roll must be made before the Parish Meeting commences.  Please inspect the list and let the Clerk know if you think there is an error.

The Advent needs and values the participation of new parishioners, both in Parish life and Parish governance.  If you are new, please be sure to make a pledge for 2016 so that you can vote in the January, 2017 Annual Meeting.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

In accordance with Article IV, Section 2, of the By-Laws of the Parish of the Advent, the Clerk has posted the Warrant for the Annual Meeting in the lobby of the Parish Hall,  The Vestry has called the Annual Meeting for Sunday, January 29, 2017, at 10:00 am.

Faithfully yours,
Frederick Ou, Clerk


The Nominating Committee has proposed the following persons to stand for election to the Vestry at the Annual Meeting on January 29, 2017:

Eric Baldwin
C. Thomas Brown
Christopher Laconi
Philip Le Quesne
Kyle Pilares
Tony Pulsone
Rachael Ringenberg

There are four three-year terms and one year of Nathan Cleveland’s term to be filled.

Also nominated for one-year terms are:

For Clerk:
Frederick Ou

For Treasurer:
Adam Rutledge

Delegate to the Diocesan Convention (and the Boston Harbor Deanery) (two to be elected):
Betsy Ridge Madsen
Julianne Turé

Alternate Delegates (one to be elected):
Robb Scholten

Photographs of the nominees accompanied by statements of their intention to serve will be posted in the lobby of Moseley Hall.


Nominations from the Floor of the Annual Meeting:  The Vestry has adopted a process for nominations from the floor after the Nominating Committee has announced the candidates which it proposes.  Any four members of the Parish can nominate a candidate by filling out and signing a nomination form that gives the name of the nominee and the office to which that person is nominated.  This process does not preclude nominations at the Meeting itself; but it does permit the name of the nominee to appear in print on the ballot.  The Nominating Committee may also adopt such nominees from the floor as part of its proposed slate as well.  If you have any questions about this process, please speak with the Clerk (Frederick Ou) or his predecessor (C. Thomas Brown), or call the Parish Office.  A statement describing qualifications for Officers and Members of the Vestry may be found at the rear of the church.


The Annual Parish Meeting is Sunday, January 29, 2017.  Contributions to the 2016 Annual Report must be in the Parish Office no later than 12:00 Noon on Friday, January 6, 2017.  All heads of committees or groups are expected to submit a report.  Electronic submission is preferred.


MISSION & OUTREACH CORNER


The Boston Harbor Deanery will be holding a Stop Hunger Now event hosted by the Church of the Advent on Saturday, January 28, from 10:00 am-12:00 pm.

What is Stop Hunger Now?  Stop Hunger Now is driven by the vision of a world without hunger. Their mission is to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable people and creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources.  To that end packages of dry food, enough for one meal, are assembled by volunteers and are then sent to places where there is a shortage of food and people are hungry.

Between 2 and 3 volunteers will be needed from our church to participate in the event which will be run by a team from Stop Hunger Now.  Those who have done this before say that it is quite a lot of fun.  There will be music and perhaps even dancing !  Please volunteer to help package meals and be able to arrive 15 minutes prior to the event.  To signup please contact Advent’s seminarian Eric Fialho at efialho@eds.edu.


Volunteer Opportunity—Serve at Common Cathedral Sunday, February, 19 from Noon to 2:30 pm.  Amanda Grant-Rose preached at the Advent in November, then shared with our Mission & Outreach Team ways our parish could partner to serve Boston’s un-housed community.  A team from the Advent will serve lunch at their Boston Common worship service on Sunday, February 19, from noon until 2:30 pm.  We need a team of eight volunteers—would you please be one of them?  For information or to volunteer, contact Ali White at alinebwhite@gmail.com or 802-323-6652, or Father Wood at cubswn@gmail.com.


ODDS & ENDS


The flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish.  There is an opening for a flower memorial or thanksgiving for the High Altar on Sunday, January 29.  If you are interested, please call Blenda Jeffry at 978-443-3519 (flowers.advent@gmail.com)


Discount Vouchers for the Boston Common Garage are available for $9.00 each from Deacon Daphne. You can find her between the 9:00 and 11:15 Masses at the Coffee Hour or Entr’acte. The vouchers can be used after 4:00 pm weekdays, and all day Saturday and Sunday. Questions? email: deaconnoyes@theadventboston.org.


STEWARDSHIP 2017


If you requested pledge envelopes on your pledge card, they can be found at the back of the Church in (it is devoutly to be hoped) alphabetical order. If you asked for envelopes and they are not there, please call the Parish Office (617-523-2377 ext 122, email: office@theadventboston.org.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
January 16-22, 2017

Monday, January 16
Martin Luther King Birthday (Parish Office Closed)

Tuesday, January 17
Antony of Egypt
5:30 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, January 18
The Confession of St Peter
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bellringing

Thursday, January 19
Wulfstan of Worcester
10:00 am: Play Group
5:15 pm: Property Committee
6:15 pm: Vestry

Friday, January 20
Fabian of Rome
10:00 am: Play Group

Saturday, January 21
Agnes of Rome
10:oo am: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Sunday, January 22
The Third Sunday after the Epiphany

7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
10:15 am: Church School
11:15 am: Solemn Mass