This Week at the Advent, June 2-8, 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. Please join us downstairs following the service for a coffee hour.

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

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


The flowers at the high altar are given to the glory of God and in loving memory of John Kocyk Zartarian.


9:00 Coffee Hour: Darcy Montaldi & Tony Pulsone, and Abigail & Alister Lewis-Bowen host this morning. Today’s Coffee Hour also includes a recognition of our Church School teachers. Next Sunday Will Joyner & Linda Jones join Megan & Mike Zadig in hosting.  If you would like to sign up to host coffee hour, please contact Barbara Boles by phone, 617-501-7572, or email bbolesster@gmail.com if you’re interested or have questions.

11:15 Coffee Hour: Today’s hosts are Mark Aparece, Susan Fugliese, and Frank Olney. 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 Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com), Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com).


Important Update from the Wardens

We are pleased to report that Bishop Gates has approved our Parish Profile.  Our expectation is that the final layout and formatting will be completed early next week, at which point the document will be publicly available.  When this happens, we will send a special email to the Parish with a link to the profile, which will be posted on the Parish website. 
–Tom Brown & Paul Roberts.


THIS WEEK


ADULT CONFIRMATION CLASSES continue this Wednesday in Moseley Hall with a light supper following the 6:00 pm Healing Mass. This week’s topic is “The History of the Episcopal Church.”


On Tuesday, June 4, Leonard and Suzann Buckle, longtime members of our parish, will celebrate the 53rd anniversary of their marriage. Part of their celebration will be a renewal of their marriage vows here at the Church at 2:00 pm on Saturday, June 8. A reception will follow immediately in Moseley Hall.


COMING UP


COMPLINE at the Advent — Next Sunday, June 9, 8:00 pm.


The flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish. We have openings for flower memorials or thanksgivings on Sunday, June 16 and especially for Corpus Christi (June 20). If you are interested, please contact the parish administrator (office@theadventboston.org).


PICNIC! On Sunday, June 23, we will have a summertime picnic in the Garden following the 9:00 and 11:15 Masses. The Advent will provide hot dogs with all the trimmings and drinks of various kinds. We ask members of the Parish to bring hors d’oeuvres, salads, desserts. Pray for good weather and feel free to dress appropriately.


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

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. The registration deadline is July 1.


ODDS & ENDS


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. 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.

The soaring lines of the Advent have inspired artists and photographers from its earliest days. On Sunday, June 2, a new display case located in the foyer will debut postcards, photographs, and other images of the building’s exterior. Included in the exhibit: one of the earliest drawings of “The New Church of the Advent” from King’s handbook of Boston, 1889 (see below); the original of a familiar image by Jack Frost, used on the cover of our service bulletins; an assortment of postcards and note cards, including the earliest color postcard (circa 1915) of the church; an Epiphany-themed depiction by Robert Turner Walker; a watercolor by Diane Cermak, a member of the Bell Ringers Guild; and a pen-and-ink sketch by Jean Holloway, used on the cover of the Anglican Digest.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
June 3-9, 2019

Monday, June 3
Martyrs of Uganda

Tuesday, June 4
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, June 5
Boniface
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
6:30 pm:  Adult Confirmation Class follows
7:00 pm: Bellringers

Thursday, June 6
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, June 7
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, June 8
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal
10:00 am: Flower Guild
10:30 am: Search Committee
2:00 pm: Buckle Marriage Vows Renewal

Sunday, June 9
Pentecost (Whitsunday)
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Procession & Sung Mass
11:15 am: Procession & Solemn Mass with Holy Baptism
2:30 pm: Bellringers
8:00 pm: Compline

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Canon Edie Dolnikowski at the Church of the Advent, May 30, 2019, the Feast of the Ascension

In the Name of God:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

On every Sunday and major feast we proclaim the doctrine that Jesus ascended into heaven. Compared to other teachings about Jesus’ life and ministry, however, we tend not to give the Ascension the attention it deserves.  Until the fourth century it didn’t even have its own feast day.  Since then observance of this feast has been sporadic—and in some cases downright odd—especially in our branch of the Church, which prefers its doctrines to be as rational as possible.

We know why Our Lord ascended into heaven:  we observe in the Book of Genesis [5:24] that when Patriarch Enoch reached the venerable age of 365 years, angels carried him into heaven to dwell with God; we read in the Second Book of Kings [2:12-14] that a chariot of fire pulled the Prophet Elijah into a whirlwind that conveyed him up to the sky.

For the evangelist Luke, Jesus’ ascension is the culmination of God’s saving work, woven into the fabric of creation, attested by patriarchs and prophets and sealed by our Lord’s incarnation, death and resurrection.  Jesus’ ascension makes way for the Holy Spirit to infuse God’s people with such grace that they become Christ’s body on earth, fully empowered to help usher in the kingdom of God.  It is a beautiful, powerful teaching that deserves our commemoration, contemplation and adoration.

We can see clearly why the ascension is a vital, defining doctrine of our faith.  For many of us, however, the stumbling block isn’t why but how.  Since at least the eleventh century our religious life has been shaped by theologians like Anselm, Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, all of whom insist that our faith must be reasonable.  God did not make a chaotic, incomprehensible world, they assert; rather, God made a world in which every wonder is an invitation to witness and explore God’s grace in action.  Theological mystery becomes a vehicle for entering the divine mind and discerning, to an almost scientific degree, God’s purpose for us in this mortal world. 

The mysteries of incarnation and resurrection challenge us, of course; yet we have all seen some form of new life spring out of dark barren places.  Indeed, our reliance on God’s power over death fuels our faith and sustains our hope.  But in both of these cases the mystery occurred privately with no witnesses to tell us what actually happened.  Jesus’ ascension, by contrast, was a very public affair.  Lots of people saw it, apparently, and, they found it quite amazing.  We, standing in Anselm’s tradition of “faith seeking understanding,” may well find certain details of ascension in our biblical record rather dubious.  Where are these chosen patriarchs and prophets actually going?  Why up?  What exactly is up there?  Must we affirm a doctrine with no physical evidence to support it?  If not, what is the proper way to interpret these critical texts metaphorically.  If so, how do we make sense of bible passages that seem to pit theological truth against observable fact?

Perhaps these difficult questions account at least for some of the peculiar ways we have observed the Feast of the Ascension down through the centuries.  I cite two examples from one of my favorite books, The Oxford Companion to the Year

  • First, there is a very old custom of collecting rain water on Ascension Day for healing, especially diseases of the eye[1]
  • Second, a seventeenth-century treatise reports that students at New College, Oxford, for “time out mind” visited St. Bartholomew’s Hospital on Ascension Day morning, where they offered prayers, sang songs, and processed to the chapel on a path “strewn with flowers”[2]

Now for some contemporary examples:  I once served a congregation that hosted a strawberry shortcake reception immediately following the Ascension Day liturgy; no one knew quite why they did this, or how it related to the doctrine of the ascension, but it was a lovely custom nonetheless.  And here today we honor the ascension with the glorious offering of Herbert Howell’s English Mass!

For me, though, the most profound and authentic way that I have ever experienced the Feast of the Ascension was at St. Andrew’s Church in Wellesley, where every year the Altar Guild gathers to commission new members and appoint new officers in a Eucharistic celebration.  At the Offertory, the celebrant recites the necrology of the people who have served on the Altar Guild since the founding of the parish over one hundred years ago.  By now the list of names is quite long, but no one seems to mind the time it takes to read them.  Of all people, these quiet ministers of the Gospel know the abiding value of being Christ’s body on earth; of preparing his table; of helping to serve the friends he calls to the feast; of attending to the messiness of sharing bread and wine—body and blood—with fellow disciples who desperately need God’s forgiveness, encouragement and abundant love.  Of all people, they understand the connection between a concrete faith rooted in the here and now, and the promise of eternal life with our risen Lord.

So, in honor of these precursors who have faithfully sought to observe the occasion of Jesus’ ascension, if when they couldn’t quite grasp its meaning, I invite to you mark this feast with exuberant celebration.  Give great thanks for the mystery that Jesus rose to heaven so that we might fulfill our calling as his agents of healing and reconciliation on earth.  And pray with me this ancient prayer from the Mozarabic Sacramentary, written in a time when making rational sense of profound truth was not at the top of the list of theological virtues:

“Who shall speak of Thy power, O Lord, and who shall be able to tell the tale of all Thy praises?  Thou didst descend to human things, not leaving behind heavenly things.  Thou art returned to things above, not abandoning things below.  Everywhere Thou art Thy whole self, everywhere wonderful.  In the flesh, Thou hast yet thy being with the Father; in thine Ascension Thou art not torn away from Thy being in man.  Look upon the prayer of Thy people, holy Lord, merciful God; that in Thy holy Ascension, even as glory is given to Thee on high, so grace may be vouchsafed to us below.”[3] 

Amen.


[1] Notes and Queries, 1st ser., ix (1854), 524 cited in The Oxford Companion to the Year, Bonnie Blackburn and Leofranc Holford-Strevens (Oxford, 1999), 630.

[2] John Gadbury, EFHMERIS or, a Diary Astronomical, Astrological, Meteorological for the Year of our Lord 1696 (London, 1696) cited in ibid.

[3] The New Book of Christian Prayers, Tony Castle (New York:  Crossword Publishing, 1977), 204.