Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which giveth life to the world:  Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Collect for the season: 

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This Week at the Advent, March 31-April 6, 2019

Welcome to the Church of the Advent! If you are new to the area, visiting, or seeking a church home, we are glad you’re here and hope to have a chance to greet you in person.

Child care is offered during the 9 am and 11:15 am services; an usher can guide you to the nursery.

A Coffee Hour following each service is held in Moseley Hall, reached through the side door at the back of the church. A lift is available for anyone who needs it.

Welcome cards are located in each pew; please fill one out so we can keep in touch.

In order to focus all of our attention on worship, we ask that no electronic devices be used at any of our services. Thank you.


9:00 Coffee Hour: Rob Braman & Rachel Johnson, and Michael & Megan Zadig host today. Next week’s hosts are Judy Bell & Fran Piscitelli and Cassie & Jack Gurmon. 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: Ciarán Anthony DellaFera and Michael Gnozzio host today. We are always in need of more volunteers; 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 Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com) or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com) or Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com). 


Today is the Sunday known as Laetare Sunday, the fourth in Lent. The name is taken from the first word of the Introit of the Mass, Laetare, Jerusalem et conventum facite omnes qui dilitis eam…  “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and come together all you that love her…” (Isaiah 66:10). Like Gaudete Sunday in Advent, it is a day on which the fast and discipline of the season are relaxed. 

A sign of this are the flowers on the Altar and in the Church which are permitted today and the rose vestments of the Mass.

The flowers at the high altar today are given to the glory of God and in loving memory of Blenda Jeffry.


Entr’acte (following the 9 am Mass, in the library): Fr. Hanson and parishioner John Ferrillo continue their study of Fleming Rutledge’s magisterial work The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. Discussions focus on not just why our Lord had to die but why he had to die in the way he did. Mrs. Rutledge’s work is a careful and sensitive study of this question that lies at the heart of our faith. This topic is particularly appropriate for Lent, as we prepare ourselves for Good Friday, the meaning of which is bound to become much clearer and more deeply felt as a result of a study of Mrs. Rutledge’s book. This series concludes next Sunday.


THIS WEEK


SATURDAY: This year’s Lenten Quiet Day will be led by the Rev. Canon William Parnell, Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Massachusetts. Canon Parnell will offer seasonal reflections, which will be interspersed with time for prayer and silence. Lunch will be offered. The day begins at 9:30 am with coffee and ends at 3pm. If you have not already registered, please see Deacon Noyes today.


LENTEN THEOLOGY STUDY. The Book of Homilies: A Preached Orthodoxy. 
Wednesdays, March 13 – April 10 at 7:00 pm in the Library

Ever wonder what the early uniquely Anglican texts of theology are? The Book of Homilies provided an orthodox lens through which laity and clergy alike could understand the doctrines and beliefs of the denomination. Pastoral Assistant Eric Fialho will lead this exciting five-week theology course. Several 16th-century homilies will be examined and scrutinized in an attempt to better understand and define early Anglican identity and belief, and its impact on the Church today. All are most welcome to attend! For more information please contact Eric soon at efialho@eds.edu.


On Thursdays during Lent, at 6 pm, the devotions of The Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be offered in the church. The Stations of the Cross is a series of meditations on the Passion, the Crucifixion and the Death of Jesus leading to His burial in the tomb. Many Christians through the ages have found The Stations an aid in focussing their Lenten prayers. Some take on this form of devotion as a part of their Lenten disciplines. At Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, we meditate on Our Lord’s Risen Presence with us in the Blessed Sacrament, which flows from his atoning and sacrificial death. He had to die in order that we might live with and in Him. That is a truth we think and pray about during the holy season. Stations and Benediction are helpful means to that end. Consider making it a part of your week.


COMING UP


MONDAY COMMUNITY GROUPS: Community Groups at the Advent are the best way for new and long-standing parishioners to meet and come to know true Christian fellowship. A new group will be meeting twice monthly on Monday evenings at different locations in the vicinity of university campuses in Cambridge and Boston. The purpose of the group is to provide members and potential members with opportunities to better get to know one another and enjoy time for friendship, prayer, education and recreation.

 The first gathering will take place on April 8 at 7 pm, at the home of John Ross Campbell, 471 Memorial Drive, Apt. 1279, Cambridge. We will be having a conversation about the focus of the group as well as activities we would like to do over the next months. All are welcome! Please RSVP to John Ross at jrcamp@mit.edu; he can also provide directions to his home. For any additional questions, contact Fr James.


Can you help the parish Flower Guild?

Preparing the floral decorations for Easter would be utterly impossible without reinforcements from outside the flower guild. Please join us if you can on any or all of the following days:

  • Maundy Thursday, April 18, 10 am–noon and/or 1–3:30 pm.
  • Holy Saturday, April 20, 10 am to 4 pm — please try to arrive by 11 am, but you do not have to stay all afternoon; even an hour or two is helpful.
  • Saturday April 27, 10:30 am (Post-Easter cleanup)

You do not need to have any flower arranging skills; if you can carry a bucket, climb a stepladder, use a broom, or fill a trash bag, we can use you! And if you like flowers but have never made an arrangement, this is a great chance to learn some basic techniques. Help is especially needed on Saturday, April 20.


SPECIAL EVENTS FOR TODDLERS TO TEENAGERS: We ask that parents please take note and mark in their calendars the following events, which will strengthen and enhance our ministry to our young people:

  • Easter Day, we will hold our Easter Egg Hunt following the 9 am Mass in the parish garden, and “resurrect” all the buried Alleluias from the beginning of Lent.
  • On Saturday, April 27 the Middle School and High School students will attend the Presiding Bishop’s Jamboree from 1:30 to 3:00 at the Cathedral. We will meet at 1 pm that Saturday and walk to the Cathedral together.
  • Also at the Cathedral, the parishioners who are prepared for Confirmation (see below) will be confirmed by Bishop Gates on Saturday, June 15 at 10:30 am.

In honor of Saint Francis, on Sunday, October 6, the children will be able to enjoy a petting zoo that morning and bring their animal friends to the church that afternoon for our Blessing of Pets.


Adult Confirmation Class scheduled. It is expected that all adult members of this Church, after appropriate instruction, will have made a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and will have been confirmed or received by the laying on of hands by a Bishop of this Church or by a Bishop of a Church in full communion with this Church. In keeping with the National Canons of The Episcopal Church, we are offering Confirmation Classes beginning after Easter. Classes have been scheduled for any adults (16 years and older) who are desirous of Confirmation or Reception into The Episcopal Church. The classes are scheduled for Wednesday evenings May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5 and 12, following the Healing Mass at 6:00 pm.


THEOLOGY ON TAP returns on Tuesday, April 30 at 7 pm in the Lower Bar at MAST Restaurant and Drinkery, 45 Province Street, Boston. Tyler VanderWeele will speak on “Religious Communities and Human Flourishing.” Dr VanderWeele is director of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard, which among other things studies how religious communities affect health, happiness, meaning and purpose, and close social relationships. Theology on Tap is preceded by Evening Prayer at 5:30 pm at the Advent. For more information, contact Fr Hanson


SAINT MICHAEL’S CONFERENCE: A Conference in the Anglican Tradition for Young Adults of All Christian Communions.

By the end of the week, I was sad to be leaving all the new friends I had made at the Conference. I couldn’t believe that the week had gone by so fast. I had learned so many new things at the Conference that I knew would be valuable life lessons, but most of all I had learned to never judge something without knowing what it is like. This is what Harriet Lewis-Bowen told us about her time spent last summer at Saint Michael’s Conference. This educational conference for high school and college students is a week-long conference held in West Hartford, Connecticut from July 28 to August 3 this summer. We encourage every high school and college-aged student between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one to register and attend. Registration forms are available in the church or on the Conference’s website at www.saintmichaelsconference.com. Please see Father James, Betsy James, Rob Braman, Mark Dwyer, Gabriel Ellsworth, Sam James, or Harriet Lewis-Bowen if you are interested in attending.


ODDS & ENDS


Parish Workday: On Saturday, March 23, a hearty crew picked up, straightened up, cleaned out, cleaned up, scrubbed, swept, dusted, shined, polished, organized, tossed, rescued, and gave about 40 hours combined TLC to the beautiful building that houses our community. Thanks to all who participated!


Parishioner and former music librarian Ivan Hansen is offering his vast collection of record albums, CDs, and books to fellow Adventers. You will find this treasure trove in the Library; please help yourself to the items that most appeal — it might be wise to bring a tote bag — and be sure to let Ivan know how much you appreciate his generosity! His address: 81 Phillips St., Boston, 02114.


Discount Vouchers for the Boston Common Garage are available for $9.00 each from Deacon Daphne or Nola Sheffer. You can find them 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: nsheffer@newview.org. NOTE: If you will be needing parking vouchers for Holy Week, please plan on purchasing them on April 7, or before, since there is no coffee hour on Palm Sunday.


From the Advent Archives —

An occasional offering of little known facts, amusing anecdotes, and miscellaneous wisdom, in honor of the 175th anniversary of this parish.

The Rev. Dr. James A. Bolles, rector from 1859 to 1870, initiated both daily Mass and a vested choir. Some people objected to the vested choir, declaring they would leave the parish if Bolles carried out this intent. Undeterred, he announced in print that on the next All Saints Day the choir would be surpliced. In “The Beginnings of a Parish: A Paper read before the Men‘s Guild of the Church of the Advent, December 31, 1925,” George O. G. Coale reminisces, “The choir first appeared in surplices in Dr. Bolles’ day, and wonderful they were — very full circular capes of linen reaching to the ankles or below and open in the front, with a large black Oxford tie at the neck. They had no sleeves, but the sides were folded up upon the outstretched arms of the wearer and therefore he was obliged to hold his fore-arms horizontally in front of him for fear he would become sleeveless and his arms become helpless for the rest of the service. This was a cause of constant anxiety. Cassocks were not worn.”


Holy Week Service Schedule

Childcare will be available at all Holy Week services. Caregivers arrive by 6:15 pm and will be in nursery space adjacent to the parish office. Contact Meg Nelson at megwnelson@gmail.com with questions or concerns.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
April 1-7, 2019

Monday, April 1

Tuesday, April 2
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, April 3
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Lenten Theology Study
7:00 pm: Bell Ringing

Thursday, April 4
6:00 pm: Stations of the Cross & Benediction
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, April 5
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, April 6
9:30 am: Lenten Quiet Day
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Sunday, April 7
The Fifth Sunday in Lent
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Litany in Procession & Sung Mass
10:15 am: Church School / Childcare / Entr’acte
11:15 am: Litany in Procession & Solemn Mass

Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent

Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the season: 

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This Week at the Advent, March 24-30, 2019

Welcome to the Church of the Advent! If you are new to the area, visiting, or seeking a church home, we are glad you’re here and hope to have a chance to greet you in person.

Child care is offered during the 9 am and 11:15 am services; an usher can guide you to the nursery.

A Coffee Hour following each service is held in Moseley Hall, reached through the side door at the back of the church. A lift is available for anyone who needs it.

Welcome Cards are located in each pew; please fill one out so we can keep in touch.


9:00 Coffee Hour: Bette Boughton and Jonnet Holladay host today. Next week’s hosts are Rob Braman & Rachel Johnson, and Mike & Megan Zadig. 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. Philip & Kara Rodgers Marshall, and Xander Mojarrab host today. We are always in need of more volunteers; 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 Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com) or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com) or Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com). 


This morning we welcome the Venerable Christiaan A. Beukman, who, in his role as archdeacon, is in the process of visiting deacons in their parishes. He will vest and process in the 9 am and 11:15 am services. Beukman is a native of the Netherlands who moved to the Boston area in 1981 after meeting his wife, Lucy, in Jerusalem. Since 2004, he has been the pastoral ministries manager of Linden Ponds Retirement Community in Hingham. He was ordained a deacon in 2009 and has served parishes in Quincy, Walpole and Franklin.


Entr’acte (following the 9 am Mass, in the library): Fr. Hanson and parishioner John Ferrillo continue their four-week study of Fleming Rutledge’s magisterial work The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. Our discussions will focus on not just why our Lord had to die but why he had to die in the way he did. Mrs. Rutledge’s work is a careful and sensitive study of this question that lies at the heart of our faith. With scholarly rigor and pastoral concern she explicates the various controversial issues surrounding the crucifixion, arguing powerfully that the crucifixion of Christ is the central act in the drama of salvation undertaken by the undivided Holy Trinity that atones for sin, sets right the injustice of the world, and secures the final eschatological victory of God over all. This topic is particularly appropriate for Lent, as we prepare ourselves for Good Friday, the meaning of which is bound to become much clearer and more deeply felt as a result of a study of Dr. Rutledge’s book.


Another ceremonial note from Fr. Welch:

After weeks of experimentation, I’ve decided that it would work best if I continue to do a profound bow when I’m the celebrant at mass and everyone else genuflects. Last Sunday some people were bowing, some genuflecting, and some doing something awkwardly in between.

Many years ago, when Fr Richard Cornish Martin was Interim, Fr Martin, an elderly gentleman like myself and also incapable of a real genuflection, would bow and others would genuflect. So this arrangement has the weight of tradition behind it, which, as we all know, is important in a parish like the Advent.


STEWARDSHIP UPDATE

Dear Fellow Advent Parishioners:

On behalf of the Stewardship committee we would like to wish you all a blessed Lenten Season and prayerful preparation for the upcoming sacred and joyful Easter celebration.

We thought it appropriate to give an update to all parishioners at this time with a brief summary of the 2019 Stewardship campaign.

  • First, thank you to everyone who has already sent in their pledges for 2019. Every pledge, no matter the amount, is important, especially in this challenging transition year during the search for our new Rector.
  • We have exceeded the goal of “Plus Ten Percent” set by our Senior Warden Tom Brown and the Vestry. So far we have achieved nearly $570,000 in pledged amount, which is an increase of 12.0% over last year. This is a wonderful and blessed response from Advent parishioners in support of all planned activities necessary to make this transition year a success, laying the foundation for the future well-being of our beloved Church of the Advent. Thank you.
  • Here are a few details: we have received 206 pledges so far; our 31 new pledges prove again our continuing growth as a community in Christ and their pledged amount more than offset the decreased and loss pledge amounts versus last year. The increased pledges were instrumental in “pushing us over the top” in our campaign. Plus, the solid foundation put in place by those parishioners who maintained their level of support this year was another success factor.
  • Once again, on behalf of the Wardens, the Vestry and Stewardship committee, a heartfelt thanks to everyone for your thoughtful consideration and care for the Advent as a place of worship and fellowship in Christ.

For those parishioners who have not yet had the opportunity to make their pledges for 2019, we would like to encourage your consideration to pledge whatever amount possible to support the challenges we collectively face together as the worshipping community of The Advent. It is never too late to step forward and contribute whatever is appropriate for your consideration. Please just send in your pledge by mail or email to the parish office; drop it in the Sunday collection; or submit it via the web site: www.theadventboston.org (click “pledge online”). Or reach out to any Stewardship committee member, Warden, or Vestry member, who will be more than pleased to assist in any way.

All the best to everyone, and we look forward to celebrating with all Advent parishioners the joys of the coming Easter celebration.

Yours in the service of Christ our Savior and Redeemer,
Francesco Piscitelli and Thatcher Gearhart


THIS WEEK


LENTEN THEOLOGY STUDY. The Book of Homilies: A Preached Orthodoxy. 
Wednesdays, March 13 – April 10 at 7:00 pm in the Library

Ever wonder what the early uniquely Anglican texts of theology are? The Book of Homilies provided an orthodox lens through which laity and clergy alike could understand the doctrines and beliefs of the denomination. Pastoral Assistant Eric Fialho will lead this exciting five-week theology course. Several 16th-century homilies will be examined and scrutinized in an attempt to better understand and define early Anglican identity and belief, and its impact on the Church today. All are most welcome to attend! For more information please contact Eric soon at efialho@eds.edu.


On Thursdays during Lent, at 6 pm, the devotions of The Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be offered in the church. The Stations of the Cross is a series of meditations on the Passion, the Crucifixion and the Death of Jesus leading to His burial in the tomb. Many Christians through the ages have found The Stations an aid in focussing their Lenten prayers. Some take on this form of devotion as a part of their Lenten disciplines. At Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, we meditate on Our Lord’s Risen Presence with us in the Blessed Sacrament, which flows from his atoning and sacrificial death. He had to die in order that we might live with and in Him. That is a truth we think and pray about during the holy season. Stations and Benediction are helpful means to that end. Consider making it a part of your week.


Remember to sign up for the Lenten Quiet Day, April 6. The Rev’d Canon William Parnell, Canon to the Ordinary, will offer seasonal reflections interspersed with time for prayer and contemplation in silence. A light lunch will be served. Please see Deacon Noyes by March 27 to reserve your space; a donation of $10 is suggested. Or register through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lenten-quiet-day-tickets-58574234111


COMING UP


Can you help the parish Flower Guild?

Preparing the floral decorations for Easter would be utterly impossible without reinforcements from outside the flower guild. Please join us if you can on any or all of the following days:

  • Maundy Thursday, April 18, 10 am–noon and/or 1–3:30 pm.
  • Holy Saturday, April 20, 10 am to 4 pm — please try to arrive by 11 am, but you do not have to stay all afternoon; even an hour or two is helpful.
  • Saturday April 27, 10:30 am (Post-Easter cleanup)

You do not need to have any flower arranging skills; if you can carry a bucket, climb a stepladder, use a broom, or fill a trash bag, we can use you! And if you like flowers but have never made an arrangement, this is a great chance to learn some basic techniques. Help is especially needed on Saturday, April 20.


COME JOIN THE JAMBOREE! We are calling all middle school and high school young people in the parish to join us when we go to The Presiding Bishop’s Jamboree with Youth on Saturday, April 27th from 1:30 to 3 pm at our Cathedral, on Tremont Street. The Most Reverend Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, wants to hear what our young people’s hopes and dreams are for the Church and he wants to share with them his invitation and challenge to them. A full description of Bishop Curry’s visit can be found online at diomass.org/pb-visit.

We will meet here at The Advent at 1:00 and walk across the Common to the Cathedral and return here at 3:30 to be picked up for our rides home. We need to have the names of persons to register so as quickly as you can, please contact Carolyn Shadid-Lewis at 617-460-9886 or carolynshadid@gmail.com and let her know if you will be coming with us. You may also contact Father James for information.


Adult Confirmation Class scheduled. It is expected that all adult members of this Church, after appropriate instruction, will have made a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and will have been confirmed or received by the laying on of hands by a Bishop of this Church or by a Bishop of a Church in full communion with this Church. In keeping with the National Canons of The Episcopal Church, we are offering Confirmation Classes beginning after Easter. Classes have been scheduled for any adults (16 years and older) who are desirous of Confirmation or Reception into The Episcopal Church. The classes are scheduled for Wednesday evenings May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5 and 12, following the Healing Mass at 6:00 pm.


SAINT MICHAEL’S CONFERENCE: A Conference in the Anglican Tradition for Young Adults of All Christian Communions.

By the end of the week, I was sad to be leaving all the new friends I had made at the Conference. I couldn’t believe that the week had gone by so fast. I had learned so many new things at the Conference that I knew would be valuable life lessons, but most of all I had learned to never judge something without knowing what it is like. This is what Harriet Lewis-Bowen told us about her time spent last summer at Saint Michael’s Conference. This educational conference for high school and college students is a week-long conference held in West Hartford, Connecticut from July 28 to August 3 this summer. We encourage every high school and college-aged student between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one to register and attend. Registration forms are available in the church or on the Conference’s website at www.saintmichaelsconference.com. Please see Father James, Betsy James, Rob Braman, Mark Dwyer, Gabriel Ellsworth, Sam James, or Harriet Lewis-Bowen if you are interested in attending.


ODDS & ENDS


BOOKS: There are two bookcases of books in the southeast corner of the Library that were part of the Parish library, now long out of service. They are mostly books on theology and history of the Oxford Movement that are somewhat dated. Many of them are in fair to poor condition. You are welcome to inspect these books and take home ones that interest you. We do not need them back. We have retained books that were deemed to be of historic importance, but if you spot something you think we should keep, please bring it to the office.


Discount Vouchers for the Boston Common Garage are available for $9.00 each from Deacon Daphne or Nola Sheffer. You can find them 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: nsheffer@newview.org.


From the Advent Archives —

An occasional offering of little known facts, amusing anecdotes, and miscellaneous wisdom, in honor of the 175th anniversary of this parish.

“Our place of worship was thronged, the music was delightful, the congregation manifesting that engagedness in the worship which is contagious, and distinguishes us from any congregation in the city” — William Croswell, rector, 1844–1851, describing service of November 23, 1845.
From A History of the Church of the Advent by Betty Hughes Morris (1995).


Holy Week Service Schedule

Childcare will be available at all Holy Week services. Caregivers arrive by 6:15 pm and will be in nursery space adjacent to the parish office. Contact Meg Nelson at megwnelson@gmail.com with questions or concerns.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
March 25-31, 2019

Monday, March 25
The Annunciation of Our Lord

Tuesday, March 26
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, March 27
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Lenten Theology Study
7:00 pm: Bell Ringing

Thursday, March 28
6:00 pm: Stations of the Cross & Benediction
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, March 29
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, March 30
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Sunday, March 31
The Fourth Sunday in Lent
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
10:15 am: Church School / Childcare / Entr’acte
11:15 am: Solemn Mass

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Jay C. James at the Church of the Advent, March 17, 2019, the Second Sunday in Lent

But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?  It’s a question we have thought about at different periods in our lives.  What are the factors you consider when choosing where to live? Do you prefer urban, suburban or rural settings?  Maybe you would choose to live where you feel most connected; near family or friends, or like one of us here at The Advent, near our spiritual home.  

In a spiritual sense for Christians it is heaven.  That is where God made us to be.  That is where God calls all faithful Christians to be.  I find that even those who are agnostic about belief in God, and I have met some self-proclaimed atheists, who have shared that they experience some sense of a  longing for a place where peace of heart and mind exist. There is something in us that just longs for a home. Saint Paul is crystal clear in his letter to the Philippians about where the Christian’s true desire and longing should be: “…our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.”  

When I think of places I want to live and the body politic that would suit me, I always think that it would be nice to live, not in just a state, but in a commonwealth.  Four constituent parts of our republic purposely choose in their constitutions to conduct their political affairs as commonwealths: our own Massachusetts along with Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Virginia.  “Commonwealth” has the ring of existing for the common good. ‘common’-the public and ‘wealth’ -that used to mean ‘one’s well-being’. to be wealthy meant sound, healthy, and good, not how much money one had amassed.  So commonwealth is concerned with the public’s well-being. I like that. It has more of a spiritual grounding to it than belonging to the more secular-sounding “state”. There is more of an emphasis on the goodness or common good of all.  

This commonwealth, this citizenship for Christians has us as members of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.  Establishing that kingdom is the reason Jesus is determined to get to Jerusalem as we see in today’s Gospel. Jesus is teaching how pressing it is to get into the kingdom and be saved. How earnest one’s determination ought to be to get into the kingdom and that it will be surprising who become members or citizens of the  Kingdom.

I think this necessity of membership and the prominent place of the Kingdom of God is emphasized by Saint Luke.  We just need to look at what Saint Luke writes just before and just after today’s description of entering by the narrow door and Jesus’ message to Herod and Jerusalem.    Just before, we have Jesus calling all offenders to repent before they perish, then he purposely heals a woman on the Sabbath as if to say this is what happens in the Kingdom of God.  (We are made well.) And then he describes life in the Kingdom as growing like a mustard seed and that the Kingdom grows like leaven in a loaf. Then immediately after our three scenes today, Jesus again, right in face of the lawyers and Pharisees, heals again on the Sabbath, and then has two parables of banquets, one at a marriage and one where everyone is invited.   We ought to get the point that the Kingdom of God is the place we should want to live. It is the place Jesus wants to build by getting to Jerusalem and finishing his work.

So how do we get there and who else is there?  When asked “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”  Jesus never answers the question. Jesus’ answer is not numerical, but attitudinal.  Ours is not to know the number making it into the Kingdom, ours is to strive to get to the Kingdom.  This by no means is intended to suggest that any work or effort of our own will get us in. It is only by faith through grace that gets us in.  Our part, according to Jesus, is to “strive” to enter in by the narrow door. Striving in this sense means opening ourselves to an attitude of heart and mind that will prepare us to receive that grace.  Our efforts will not supply the grace. Striving is derived from the Greek agonizomai from where we get the English word agony.  The word originally described those who strain and struggle especially during an athletic contest or during exercise.  It’s an easy connection between that kind of strain and stress to get to agony. We should do whatever we can to be part of the Kingdom.  

In our Lenten disciplines we are attempting the same striving.  Our efforts may not be agonizing in the contemporary sense of the word, but our efforts are aids and helpful exercises to incline our hearts and minds to God.  He supplies the grace to heal us and draw us closer to him. So if you are keeping the communal Lenten discipline drawn up for The Advent, or if you have created your own Lenten disciplines, keep them up.  It is difficult. It is a strain and you are doing the right thing and, by God’s grace, entering and living in the Kingdom of God.

Not only are we to strive for the Kingdom and go through its narrow door, but there will be some surprises when we survey the land and find out who else is there.  Remember Jesus is teaching an almost entirely Jewish audience and tells them that they may be some of the ones who will not get in.

The ones who do not get in will see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob there with all the prophets but the late ones will be thrust out.  Then “men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the Kingdom of God. There will be some surprises about who is in and who is out.  The important part is to make sure the effort is made to get in and the time to start is now.

Being close to Jesus will not count.  Proximity to Jesus will not be enough.  A person may know something about Jesus or talk about him a lot, or may do lots of things that look like something Jesus would do.  None of these actions warrant any merit in the mind of God or help determine entrance into the Kingdom. Remember, the householder shut the door and said, “I do not know where you come from.”  The people plead, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” This is not good enough. The householder will still declare, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!”  Physical proximity will not do it. The listener must be open to Jesus’ teaching and hear it in his heart. Again, the attitude must be one of openness to letting the words form a new person and the longing for the Kingdom must be strenuously pursued.

Jesus loves us so much and it shows openly in his determination to get to Jerusalem and his lament over Jerusalem.  Jesus is going to Jerusalem to perform the greatest acts of love the world has ever known or will ever know. Nothing will stop him from fully establishing the Kingdom of God here in the world by his suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension; not the questioning crowds, not the Pharisees, not Herod, no one.  He shows this love and compassion for Jerusalem itself. He truly wants to care even for all those who reject him and he describes how he would care for them even as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.

To live in the place we are given to live in the Kingdom let Jesus be the narrow door.  He has given us himself as the way to be greeted by the host at the heavenly banquet. And when he welcomes us it will be in a place where there is comfort, joy, and eternal bliss.  Where would you like to live? That sounds like the perfect place.

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

Collect for the Second Sunday in Lent

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from thy ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of thy Word, Jesus Christ thy Son; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the season: 

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This Week at the Advent, March 17-23, 2019

Welcome to the Church of the Advent! If you are new to the area, visiting, or seeking a church home, we are glad you’re here and hope to have a chance to greet you in person.

Child care is offered during the 9 am and 11:15 am services; an usher can guide you to the nursery.

A Coffee Hour following each service is held in Moseley Hall, reached through the side door at the back of the church. A lift is available for anyone who needs it.

Welcome Cards are located in each pew; please fill one out so we can keep in touch.


9:00 Coffee Hour: Carolyn Shadid, Jason Lewis, and Melissa & Eric Baldwin host today. Next week’s hosts are Bette Boughton and Jonnet Holladay. 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. DJ Hatfield and Steve Kies & Jonathan Maldonaldo host today. We are always in need of more volunteers; 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 Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com) or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com) or Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com). 


Entr’acte (following the 9 am Mass, in the library): Starting today and running through April 7, Fr. Hanson and parishioner John Ferrillo will present a four-week study of Fleming Rutledge’s magisterial work The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. Our discussions will focus on not just why our Lord had to die but why he had to die in the way he did. Mrs. Rutledge’s work is a careful and sensitive study of this question that lies at the heart of our faith. With scholarly rigor and pastoral concern she explicates the various controversial issues surrounding the crucifixion, arguing powerfully that the crucifixion of Christ is the central act in the drama of salvation undertaken by the undivided Holy Trinity that atones for sin, sets right the injustice of the world, and secures the final eschatological victory of God over all. This topic is particularly appropriate for Lent, as we prepare ourselves for Good Friday, the meaning of which is bound to become much clearer and more deeply felt as a result of a study of Mrs. Rutledge’s book.


Today at 4:30 pm, organist Nathan Skinner of the Park Street Church will offer a half-hour organ recital. A service of Solemn Evensong and Benediction will follow at 5 pm, featuring the Tallis Latin Evening Service with motets by Purcell and Byrd. Following the one-hour service, a light supper will be offered at 6 pm during which our own Dr Philip Pfatteicher will discuss St. Patrick through the marvelous and colorful hymn, “St. Patrick’s Breastplate,” which will be sung at Evensong. Dr Pfatteicher taught at East Stroudsburg University and Duquesne University, both in Pennsylvania. A frequent lecturer on liturgical topics, Dr Pfatteicher is also a widely respected author with more than a dozen books in print.


FROM THE WARDENS

Dear Members and Friends of the Church of the Advent:

We would like to thank all members of the Parish who participated in the Search Committee’s forums last month. Along with the questionnaire, these forums provided a critical opportunity to continue our conversation as we search for our next Rector. As this process moves forward over the coming months, we would like to remind everyone of our responsibility to each other as a Parish family to continue in the same mode that marked the discussions in the forums: respectful of the views and the good faith of our fellow Parishioners, and mindful that our task is first and foremost one of discernment of that particular priest who will be the Rector of our particular Parish. 

The questionnaire and the forums also provided valuable insight to the Search Committee in its work, including preparation of the Parish profile and design of the application contents and procedures. The Vestry has now reviewed and approved a draft of the Parish profile. The next step is for our regional canon, the Rt. Rev’d Carol Gallagher, and for Bishop Gates himself to review and comment on the profile. Once their comments are received and addressed, we will then have a final version of the profile to post as part of the materials used to solicit applications. The process with the diocese could take another month or so. That is the point at which the Profile will be final and public. We know that everyone is eager to see the final Profile, and appreciate your continued patience. Don’t worry: it’s coming soon! In the interim, the Search Committee is working on the design of the application packet and its process for reviewing submissions.

In the coming weeks the Vestry will also consider a proposal for renovation of the Rectory. This work is long overdue. The building has not received serious attention for several generations now. This will be a significant cost for the Parish, but one that is necessary and important. We will provide further details once the Vestry has had an opportunity to deliberate on the proper path. Many thanks to Tom and Carolyn McDermott and the property committee for the many hours of work they have put into developing the plans and proposals the Vestry will consider.

We remain enormously grateful to Father Welch for his presence among us and his pastoral leadership in our transition. His service as our Interim is a great blessing to the Advent. Thanks also to the Parish clergy and staff for their continued hard work. Please take the opportunity to thank and support each and every one of them whenever you can: they deserve it.

In addition to our corporate and private devotions for Lent, please do make time for the Lenten Quiet Day on Saturday April 6, to be led by the Rev’d Canon Bill Parnell, Canon to the Ordinary. And also remember that our fourteenth rector, the Rev’d Andrew C. Mead, will preach from Palm Sunday to Easter Day. May our Lenten fasting and preparation bring us to a joyous Easter feast. 

Faithfully your brothers in Christ,
Thomas Brown & Paul J. Roberts,
Wardens


THIS WEEK


LENTEN THEOLOGY STUDY. The Book of Homilies: A Preached Orthodoxy. 
Wednesdays, March 13 – April 10 at 7:00 pm in the Library

Ever wonder what the early uniquely Anglican texts of theology are? The Book of Homilies provided an orthodox lens through which laity and clergy alike could understand the doctrines and beliefs of the denomination. Pastoral Assistant Eric Fialho will lead this exciting five-week theology course. Several 16th-century homilies will be examined and scrutinized in an attempt to better understand and define early Anglican identity and belief, and its impact on the Church today. All are most welcome to attend! For more information please contact Eric soon at efialho@eds.edu.


On Thursdays during Lent, at 6 pm, the devotions of The Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be offered in the church. The Stations of the Cross is a series of meditations on the Passion, the Crucifixion and the Death of Jesus leading to His burial in the tomb. Many Christians through the ages have found The Stations an aid in focussing their Lenten prayers. Some take on this form of devotion as a part of their Lenten disciplines. At Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, we meditate on Our Lord’s Risen Presence with us in the Blessed Sacrament, which flows from his atoning and sacrificial death. He had to die in order that we might live with and in Him. That is a truth we think and pray about during the holy season. Stations and Benediction are helpful means to that end. Consider making it a part of your week.


Parish Work Day this Saturday, March 23. Discover “the joy of tidying up” with your fellow parishioners as we prepare our beautiful church for the Easter festivities to come. Attend the morning Mass if you like, then dust, organize, arrange, wipe down, and pick up. We’ll provide lunch and cleaning supplies; wear comfortable work clothes. Please let Deacon Noyes know that you’re coming so we can plan accordingly.


Remember to sign up for the Lenten Quiet Day, April 6. The Rev’d Canon William Parnell, Canon to the Ordinary, will offer seasonal reflections interspersed with time for prayer and contemplation in silence. A light lunch will be served. Please see Deacon Noyes by March 27 to reserve your space; a donation of $10 is suggested. Or register through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lenten-quiet-day-tickets-58574234111


COMING UP


Adult Confirmation Class scheduled. It is expected that all adult members of this Church, after appropriate instruction, will have made a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and will have been confirmed or received by the laying on of hands by a Bishop of this Church or by a Bishop of a Church in full communion with this Church. In keeping with the National Canons of The Episcopal Church, we are offering Confirmation Classes beginning after Easter. Classes have been scheduled for any adults (16 years and older) who are desirous of Confirmation or Reception into The Episcopal Church. The classes are scheduled for Wednesday evenings May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5 and 12, following the Healing Mass at 6:00 pm.


SAINT MICHAEL’S CONFERENCE: A Conference in the Anglican Tradition for Young Adults of All Christian Communions.

By the end of the week, I was sad to be leaving all the new friends I had made at the Conference. I couldn’t believe that the week had gone by so fast. I had learned so many new things at the Conference that I knew would be valuable life lessons, but most of all I had learned to never judge something without knowing what it is like. This is what Harriet Lewis-Bowen told us about her time spent last summer at Saint Michael’s Conference. This educational conference for high school and college students is a week-long conference held in West Hartford, Connecticut from July 28 to August 3 this summer. We encourage every high school and college-aged student between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one to register and attend. Registration forms are available in the church or on the Conference’s website at www.saintmichaelsconference.com. Please see Father James, Betsy James, Rob Braman, Mark Dwyer, Gabriel Ellsworth, Sam James, or Harriet Lewis-Bowen if you are interested in attending.


ODDS & ENDS


BOOKS: There are two bookcases of books in the southeast corner of the Library that were part of the Parish library, now long out of service. They are mostly books on theology and history of the Oxford Movement that are somewhat dated. Many of them are in fair to poor condition. You are welcome to inspect these books and take home ones that interest you. We do not need them back. We have retained books that were deemed to be of historic importance, but if you spot something you think we should keep, please bring it to the office.


Discount Vouchers for the Boston Common Garage are available for $9.00 each from Deacon Daphne or Nola Sheffer. You can find them 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: nsheffer@newview.org.


From the Advent Archives —

An occasional offering of little known facts, amusing anecdotes, and miscellaneous wisdom, in honor of the 175th anniversary of this parish.

In 1911, the parish published “Parish of the Advent — Gifts and Memorials”, a slim booklet available for 25 cents. From the Preface: “The ground [for the Brimmer Street church] was broken March 21, 1878, sufficient money being in hand for driving the piles for the whole contemplated structure and for building the chancel…[which was] completed and walled off temporarily so that it could be used as a chapel until the completion of the rest of the church. The first service held therein was on Easter morning, 1879.”


Holy Week Service Schedule

Childcare will be available at all Holy Week services. Caregivers arrive by 6:15 pm and will be in nursery space adjacent to the parish office. Contact Meg Nelson at megwnelson@gmail.com with questions or concerns.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
March 18-25, 2019

Monday, March 18

Tuesday, March 19
St Joseph
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, March 20
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Lenten Theology Study
7:00 pm: Bell Ringing

Thursday, March 21
5:15 pm: Property Committee
6:00 pm: Stations of the Cross & Benediction
6:15 pm: Vestry
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, March 22
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, March 23
9:30 am: Parish Work Day
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal
10:30 am: Search Committee

Sunday, March 24
The Third Sunday in Lent
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
10:15 am: Church School / Childcare / Entr’acte
11:15 am: Litany in Procession & Solemn Mass

Adult Education: Entr’acte

“Entr’acte” is our Adult Education series held on Sundays between the 9 and 11:15 am Masses.

The series covers a range of subjects throughout the year and is generally taught by the clergy.  Occasionally parishioners or guest speakers with knowledge in particular areas of interest will lead a discussion. In case of last-minute changes, please check the weekly announcements for more information on upcoming sessions.

Schedule for 2019:

Date

Presenter(s)

Topic

Contact

Mar 17

Fr. Hanson, John Ferrillo

Discussion of Fleming Rutledge’s The Crucifixion

Fr Hanson

Mar 24

Fr. Hanson, John Ferrillo

The Crucifixion

Fr Hanson

Mar 31

Fr. Hanson, John Ferrillo

The Crucifixion

Fr Hanson

Apr 7

Fr. Hanson, John Ferrillo

The Crucifixion

 

Apr 14

Palm Sunday; no Entr’acte

Apr 21

Easter; no Entr’acte

Apr 28

Rick Stone

Parables of Jesus

 

May 5

Walk for Hunger; no Entr’acte

May 12

Rick Stone

Parables of Jesus

 

May 19

“”

“”

 

May 26

“”

“”

 

Sermon by the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey A. Hanson at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, March 10, 2019, the First Sunday in Lent

Today’s collect uses the name “Satan” to refer to that great enemy of humanity. That is a Biblical name, but it’s a name that Saint Luke never uses. Luke uses exactly one word for the enemy that our Lord confronts and defeats in today’s Gospel reading. That name is the devil. So what does this name mean? In Greek “diabolos,” from which we get our word “devil,” literally means to set apart or break asunder, to divide. In a more extended sense it means to slander or lie. So how do we get the meaning of the devil as a slanderer from setting apart or breaking asunder? What does the devil separate such that he is a liar? The answer I think is clear: The devil is a liar of a particular sort. His lies consist in separating a fake from the truth and passing it off as the real thing. The devil is a counterfeiter, and a counterfeit is always ever so close to the real thing.

That is what makes temptation by the devil so tricky. The devil’s lies are never outright or obvious, but cunning and indirect. This is why the devil says to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” “If you are the Son of God, thrown yourself down from here.” Notice the devil does not say, “You’re not the Son of God,” because an outright denial of the truth is easy to detect and to reject. His attack is more careful; he seeks to insinuate and to sow doubt.

Everything the devil says in this episode is an empty promise. This is how diabolical temptation works. It makes us doubtful and restless and desirous of something we think we need and pretends to be able to put our doubts to rest and give us what we really want, but this is a cheap illusion.

Every one of the devil’s temptations faced by Christ is a total fraud.

“You must be hungry, if you’re really the Son of God then why not just use your power to turn this stone to bread? Then you can eat and be happy. I have authority over the whole world. It can be yours, all you have to do is worship me, and then all that authority and glory will be yours. If you’re really the Son of God then you can throw yourself down and God will save you; he won’t let you die. He will keep you safe, and then you’ll know for sure that he loves you.”

Empty promises allure with what we might call nowadays the prospect of instant gratification. And isn’t that the hallmark of our culture? Our fallen world provokes us to doubt and restless desire, and we are told that our doubt and anxiety have a solution, but the fallen world has caused these doubts and anxieties in the first place, and the fallen world’s material solutions make us worse, not better.

Instant gratification is fundamentally opposed to the truth. This is the subtle lure that truly deserves to be called diabolical; this is the peeling away of illusion from truth.

But Jesus already knows the truth.

There can be no question that he is the Son of God. There is no “if” here, but that “if” is exactly how the devil tries to divide us from the truth we already know.

Jesus knows, and we know, that he is the Son of God because of what Luke said at the very beginning of chapter 4. Jesus “returned from the Jordan” Luke says and made his way into the desert. What happened at the Jordan? Jesus was baptized, and when he was baptized, God the Father himself said, “Thou art my beloved Son.”

This is the truth—from God’s own word.

And this truth exposes the counterfeit lies of the devil for what they are.

And this is how Jesus defeats the devil. By the truth of who he is and what he is here to do for us and for our salvation.

“Command this stone to become bread.” No. Jesus will not use his power to feed himself. Instead he will feed others, first five thousand, then his disciples and friends at the Last Supper, then at Emmaus, and finally he will feed the very life of the world with his own body: here, and on thousands of altars around the world.

“If you, then, will worship, me, all this authority and glory shall be yours.” Again no. Jesus will not claim political power over the world. He will instead found a counter community, the kingdom of God, which is not of this world and exists to rebuke and hold to account every worldly power. In Luke’s Gospel people who hear Jesus preaching about the kingdom of God are amazed because Jesus teaches they say “with authority.” He casts out demons “by his authority,” and so the truth is he doesn’t need the authority and glory that the devil falsely promises; he already has all authority and all glory, and he will use it proclaim and promote the new reign of God over all the world.

“Throw yourself down. God’s angels will bear you up.” For the last time no. In the end Jesus will not presume upon his Father to save him from harm. Instead he will willingly go to his death on the cross.

Of course he could do any of the things the devil asks. He could turn a stone to bread or claim power over the world or even command an army of angels to save him from harm.

But he won’t. And that’s why he defeats the devil and his lies.

So what can we take away from our Lord’s experience of temptation and his victory over the devil?

At this time of year especially there are a few things for us to consider. First, about the nature of fasting. Jesus goes into the desert to fast, and he assumes his disciples will fast too. Jesus never says to his followers “if you fast,” he always says, “when you fast.” He assumes we will fast, and the church summons us to do so now, in Lent, for 40 days, as he did.

Some commentators say that the devil attacks Jesus when he is hungry and thus weak and vulnerable. I disagree. I think he is strong. He has fasted for forty days, and so of course he is hungry as anyone would be. Our Lord is fully human as well as fully divine, and rarely is his humanity more conspicuously on display, but his fasting makes him not weak but strong, and fasting strengthens us too.

Because the empty promise is always the easy one, right? That’s why we like instant gratification. The devil entices us by making us think we can have something now on the cheap that is actually already ours but only ours with suffering and difficulty. Fasting steels us against this tawdry deception. “Have another slice, it won’t do you any harm. Grub for a little extra money, you earned it. Can’t hurt to have another look at Instagram, something might have changed in the last two minutes. Go ahead, it will make you happy.”

Why do we deny ourselves things like this? Because when we deny ourselves we are better able to resist this cheap seduction for what it is. When we fast we realize we don’t need to gratify our material desires. We need to satisfy our spiritual longing.

And that satisfaction can be had with the help of deep immersion in the word of God. Every word Jesus speaks against the devil in this encounter, every word, is from Scripture. His side of the conversation is all quotes. The Scripture is Jesus’s primary defense against the devil’s lies, even when the devil himself quotes Scripture. What this means is that Jesus does not defeat the devil just by superior knowledge of the Bible but by willingness to abide by its teachings.

And that is why along with fasting the church asks us in Lent to spend more time in the Word of God. We must know and be ready to obey the Word of God as incarnate in Christ Jesus and to do that we must know and be ready to obey the Word of God given to us in the Scripture. As our Lord’s own example proves, when temptation comes, there is no better defense.

Finally, let me say a word of encouragement as we go through our Lenten journey together. Jesus is actually not alone in the desert, and neither are we. Look again at the beginning of Luke 4. Jesus has just been baptized, and there he was revealed to be the Son of God, and he was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit goes with him into the desert.

Any time you feel that you are faltering in your Lenten discipline, or feeling tempted in any way, remind yourself of this truth. Open yourself to the Holy Spirit working through fasting and study of Scripture to strengthen you, to make you holier, and more able to resist the lies that besiege us in a culture of instant gratification.

We are in our Lenten journey together as a parish. We are not alone in this sense either. Rely on one another for strength. So let’s remind ourselves of the truths we already know. We do not live by bread alone. We are not interested in worldly power. And we dare not presume that God will keep us from every suffering or setback.

But we are not alone in our suffering and difficulty. The truth is that Jesus is in fact the Son of God. And his Holy Spirit remains with us, even in the desert.  Amen.