This Week at the Advent, September 1-7, 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.


TODAY!


9:00 Coffee Hour: Hosts this morning are Barbara Boles and Cassie & Jack Gurnon. 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: Hosting this morning are Frederick Ou with Steve Sayers & Ross Wood. 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 Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com).


Today is Fr Alistair Macdonald-Radcliff’s last Sunday as our summer visiting curate. We look forward to more visits from him in the future, but you might want take a moment to wish him well before his return home.


THIS WEEK


The Church office will be closed Monday, September 2, for Labor Day.

Katelyn Emerson (former associate organist) and David Brown happily share that their wedding nuptials will take place at the Church of the Advent this Saturday, September 7 at 2 pm and hope that all will feel welcome to attend and witness their union!


NEXT SUNDAY!


Commissioning of Church School Teachers: It is a special calling to teach, care for, and support our Church School children. Next Sunday, following the Post-Communion Prayer at the 9:00 Mass, we will commission all the church school teachers, caregivers, and volunteers for our 2019-2020 Church School year.

Backpack Blessing: It’s exciting for our students of all ages, and for their parents, to begin another school year — new possibilities, new teachers, new friends, and new ways Jesus will show Himself to them and guide them. To mark this new year, at the conclusion of the 9:00 Mass on September 8, we will be blessing our students’ backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil boxes, or anything our students need daily. All students, from preschool through graduate school, are welcome to come forward to the crossing to have their backpacks blessed and begin the school year reassured of the Blessing of God over all their efforts in school, and to know that the prayers of their parish family are with them.

Church School Registration: We hope to get all of the pre-school children, grade-school children, and middle-school and high-school students registered for the Church School. Please see Meg Nelson, our Coordinator for Ministry to Children, in Moseley Hall so a registration can be completed for your child or children, and watch for more information coming very soon! We’re are looking forward to a full, exciting and active year in our Church School.

Compline at the Advent: Join us for the ancient liturgy of Compline, preceded by Lucernarium, an evening service of lamp-lighting. We pray Compline, the service of prayer before bedtime in the custom of early Christian monasticism, on the second Sunday of every month at 8:00 pm in the nave.


COMING UP


Film Watch Party Wednesday, September 18, 6:30 pm at the Cathedral of St. Paul (138 Tremont St, Boston). Come view “The Last Dream,” a short documentary about families living under the threat of deportation, and learn more about how to defend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and work for permanent residency for TPS holders. Light snacks will be served. Co-sponsored by Episcopal City Mission. For more information, visit the Diocesan website: https://www.diomass.org/event/last-dream-film-screening.


NEWS!


We give high praise and hearty thanksgiving for the birth of Georgiana Elaine Richard on August 9 to Paul and Samantha Richard. O eternal God, thou hast promised to be a father to a thousand generations of those who love and fear Thee: Bless this child and preserve her life; receive her and enable her to receive you, that through the Sacrament of Baptism she may become the child of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


FROM THE ADVENT ARCHIVES


Little-know facts, amusing anecdotes, and miscellaneous wisdom, in honor of the 175th anniversary of this parish.

Charles Chapman Grafton (1830-1912), rector, 1872-1888, and Bishop of Fond du Lac, is commemorated in the calendar on August 30. After being elected bishop, his consent process was difficult, as many thought him too ritualistic, but he soon became known not only as an Anglo-Catholic but also as an ecumenist, deeply committed to improving relations with the Orthodox and Old Catholics.

He invited the Russian Orthodox bishop Tikhon and the Old Catholic Bishop Anthony Kozlowski to participate in the ordination of his eventual successor as bishop co-adjutor in 1900. The service stirred up a furor across the country with the publication of this photograph (called derisively “The Fond du Lac Circus”) showing all eight Episcopal bishops and the two visiting bishops in cope and mitre.

The “Fond du Lac Circus”

The following year, Bishop Grafton made headlines again. From the Boston Globe, April 18, 1891:

Too High For Them
Opposition to Bishop of Fond du Lac
His People in Wisconsin Object to His Burning Incense
Grafton was Once a Well-Known Boston Clergyman.

The Church of the Advent has a marble bust of Bishop Grafton. Can you find it?


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
September 2-8, 2019

Monday, September 2
The Martyrs of New Guinea
Labor Day – Parish Office Closed – no Morning Prayer

Tuesday, September 3
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, September 4
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bellringers

Thursday, September 5
6:00 pm: Advent School Welcome Event

Friday, September 6
11:30 am: Rosary
4:00 pm: Wedding Rehearsal

Saturday, September 7
9:00 am: Mass in All Souls’ Chapel (Columbarium)
2:00 pm: Wedding – Katelyn Emerson & David Brown

Sunday, September 8
The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass, Commissioning of Church School Teachers & Blessing of Backpacks
11:15 am: Solemn Mass
8:00 pm: Compline

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Dr Jeffrey A. Hanson at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, August 25, 2019, the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

It was pointed out to us a couple of weeks ago by Fr. Welch that it is vulgar to have a favorite book of the Bible, but like him, if pressed, I would have some strong preference for Hebrews. So I can’t resist preaching on today’s epistle reading.

Because the lectionary finds us today at what is indisputably the rhetorical apex of this document, which is more sermon than letter in my opinion.

The unknown author of Hebrews has throughout skillfully embroidered warning and promise, artfully combining meditations on the old covenant and new, and this passage is no exception, but here these themes come to a tremendous climax.

The author of Hebrews actually has very little interest in the details of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. His interest is in the present reality of who Jesus is, the victorious Son of God, who has triumphed over evil and death and is right now alive and enthroned at his Father’s right hand. Given that reality, the author of Hebrews exhorts his reader to offer God acceptable worship and to be grateful for the gift of salvation, which nothing can take away. That’s the promise I referred to a moment ago. The warning is that we must also have reverence and awe, because God is (as the author so memorably puts it) is a consuming fire.

That image, which the author of Hebrews is quoting from the book of Deuteronomy, refers back to the beginning of today’s reading, which sketches the scene of Moses receiving the law from God on Mount Sinai.

The unnerving quality of this sketchy portrait is enhanced by the fact that the author of Hebrews does not actually mention God at all or the word Sinai or even a mountain. Yet to contemporary readers of this document the allusions would have been unmistakable. At Sinai the Israelites had come to a literal, tangible place, one that “may be touched” as Hebrews puts it and yet was forbidden to them to touch because God’s holy presence had descended upon the mountain. Accompanying God on Mount Sinai were threatening signs of his presence: fire, darkness, tempest and gloom, and the loud blast of the trumpet to signal the divine presence. God himself again is not named and remains inaccessible behind the alarming sights and deafening sounds that accompanied his hidden presence.

How different is the picture we immediately get of Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. In a series of point-for-point contrasts, the author of Hebrews conjures a completely different joyful atmosphere that stands in direct opposition to the obscurity and holy terror of Sinai.

On Sinai, access to God was severely restricted. Here on Zion all faithful people are gathered together, celebrating with the angels.

On Sinai it was Moses who mediated between God and the people of Israel, who were so stunned by the events of Sinai that they begged God not to speak to them directly anymore but only to Moses their leader and lawgiver.

On Zion it is Jesus who is the mediator between God and the faithful, whose sprinkled blood, like the blood of animals sprinkled for the atonement of Israel on the ark of the covenant, makes it possible for us all to live together in the city of the living God.

Now let me correct a potential mistaken impression. The author of Hebrews I don’t think is contrasting past and future or contrasting Judaism and Christianity. The author of Hebrews is interested in present realities. When he contrasts Sinai and Zion he is contrasting two ways of relating to God, ways of being present before God that are both true right here, right now.

Once again the author of Hebrews combines promise and warning. The promise is that life on Zion in the festal enjoyment of God’s presence in the company of the saints and the angels is available to us today. That’s what we partake in right here at the altar. The warning is that we must not refuse to hear the words of Jesus Christ, the one who is speaking to us today in the shedding of his own blood.

For it is the holy God’s voice that speaks in the shed blood of Christ, and it was the holy God’s voice that spoke the law given to Israel. Even on Zion God is the God of all, and that God is a judge.

And a judge judges. Once God shook the earth with his thunderous voice, and now he promises to shake the heavens and earth alike, leaving only what cannot be shaken.

The promise is that for those who believe in Jesus Christ theirs shall be a kingdom that cannot be shaken. The gift of God to us is a home that survives the destruction of all that is worthless and opposed to the purposes of God. There will come a day when the heavenly Jerusalem is not just a city among others available for us to live in; it will be the only city available for us to live in.

The reality of life on Zion is ours now to enjoy. But it is also a reality to come. At the end of all things, there will remain only what survives divine judgment, what is worthy to last, and we will live in Zion for all eternity.

For earthly kingdoms, no matter how apparently powerful, rise and fall. But the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, can never be shaken. And for that we can and should give thanks, and offer God our worship and service. Here at the Advent we offer God our worship in the very way that the author of Hebrews would have us, “with reverence and awe.” I think we do a pretty good job of that here. I remember a young friend of this parish who was born in New Zealand and came to Boston for college who attended here during those years. He told me some years ago that when he set foot in the Advent he realized, truly realized, for the first time what the Bible meant when it called God “holy.”

But why do we worship with reverence and awe, especially when the rest of our culture is increasingly irreverent, and nothing is regarded as sacred? According to Hebrews, we worship in awe and reverence because “our God is a consuming fire.”

We have seen how differently the author of Hebrews depicts Mount Sinai and Mount Zion. But this final, powerful image of God as a consuming fire is a potent reminder that it is the same God on both mountains.

And it is the same God who gives us an unshakeable kingdom but also shakes all that is worthless, all that is passing away, all that is impure, all that has become defiled, right down to the ground.

I read a very impressive book once called A Consuming Fire. It is a work of history, by Prof. Eugene Genovese, who taught at a variety of universities in the American South. The book obviously takes its title from this passage in Hebrews and the one that inspired it from Deuteronomy.

A Consuming Fire is about the end of the Confederacy, the Southern States that broke with the United States over their perceived right to maintain the institution of slavery. The Civil War literally tore apart our country from 1861 to 1865, four years of brutal war that pitted brother against brother. Prof. Genovese’s book documents the shameful truth that white Southern theologians and preachers, the pillars of the church in the slave-holding states, were largely convinced that God approved of the institution of slavery and that God would take their part in the war against the North.

At the same time, Prof. Genovese shows that some Southern theologians and preachers realized—to their credit—that the judgment of God against their way of life was also a very real possibility. Those who owned slaves in the American South were by and large Christian men, and some among them had sufficient reverence and awe to worry about whether they had been in the right and whether God would really deliver them from the terrors of war or hand them over to those very terrors. As Prof. Genovese writes, “We should not presume to know the mind of the Lord who proclaimed Himself ‘a consuming fire.’ We cannot know what prayers He chooses to favor or how He chooses to direct the affairs of men. But certain things we do know. The slaveholders did pray for a manly resolution. And they did go down in fire and blood.”

The Southern Confederates thought that they had a kingdom that could not be shaken; but it was shaken. And a terrible price was paid for our nation’s sin. Six hundred thousand soldiers died, a third from the most appalling combat the world had yet known and two-thirds ingloriously—from disease. Fifty thousand civilians were killed. The theologians and preachers who defended slavery made a terrible mistake. It’s easy to see that now. What’s harder to see is what mistakes we are making. What injustices are we blind to? What sins do we excuse? What part of Jesus Christ’s speaking to us today are we refusing to hear? I shudder to think, because I include myself in these questions.

Our God is a consuming fire; He is not to be trifled with. He will burn away all that is warped and defective in us, all our sins and shortcomings. And that’s a frightening thought. But hold fast to the image of the joy of Mount Zion. That reality should remind us that we can pass through that holy fire to the other side. And on the other side is the kingdom that cannot be shaken, the festal gathering where we are all—finally—made perfect. Amen.

This Week at the Advent, August 25-31, 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.


TODAY!


9:00 Coffee Hour: Hosting this morning are Bette Boughton and Jonnet Holladay. Next week, Barbara Boles hosts with Cassie & Jack Gurnon. 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: Hosts this morning are Betsy James and Bud Scheffy. 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 Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com).


Members of the North American Guild of Change Ringers, who have been meeting at the Advent and other locations in Massachusetts for the past few days, will provide a ringing demonstration in Moseley Hall between the 9:00 and 11:15 masses. There is also a ringing simulator in the library. Stop by and try your hand at either. In addition, Guild president Bruce Butler will serve as a lector at the 11:15 mass.


FROM THE ADVENT ARCHIVES


Little-know facts, amusing anecdotes, and miscellaneous wisdom, in honor of the 175th anniversary of this parish.

illustration from "Rope-Sight: An Introduction to the Art of Change-Ringing"
An illustration from Rope-Sight: An Introduction to the Art of Change-Ringing by Jasper Whitfield Snowdon (1844-1885).

In 1916, the Rev. William Harman van Allen (rector, 1902-1929) announced “a program of unusual interest … Arthur H. Nichols, the well-known authority on matters relating to church bells, will be present with members of his famous band of ringers, and Mrs. Arthur A. Shurcliff, who has for many years made a thorough study of the subject, and who is herself a bell-ringer of note, is to speak about bells and bellringing …”

Perhaps in his talk, Mr. Nichols recited some of the memorable rhymes about bells, included in A History of the Church of the Advent (Betty Hughes Morris, 1995): 

To call the folk to church in time, WE CHIME.
When joy and pleasure are on the wing, WE RING.
When the body parts the soul, WE TOLL.

Or this medieval warning:

When I ring God’s prayses sing.
When I toule – Pray, heart and soule.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
August 26-September 1, 2019

Monday, August 26

Tuesday, August 27
Thomas Gallaudet & Henry Winter Syle
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, August 28
Augustine of Hippo
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bellringers

Thursday, August 29
Beheading of John the Baptist
9:30 am: NEHGS staff retreat

Friday, August 30
Charles Chapman Grafton
9:30 am: NEHGS staff retreat
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, August 31
Aidan of Lindisfarne

Sunday, September 1
The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
11:15 am: Solemn Mass

Collect for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 15)

Almighty God, who hast given thy only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin and also an example of godly life: Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavor ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This Week at the Advent, August 18-24, 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.


9:00 Coffee Hour: Hosting this morning are Carolyn & Tom McDermott with Nola Sheffer. 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: Hosts this morning are Ellie Dixon and Meg Mill. 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 Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com).


THIS WEEK


The “mini-ring”

The Church of the Advent welcomes the North American Guild of Change Ringers for their annual meeting. Expert bell ringers from throughout the United States and Canada will be here and at other sites around Massachusetts this Wednesday through Sunday.

For those who aren’t familiar, the ancient English art of change ringing requires mental agility, concentration and teamwork; ringers guide the massive bells through rapidly changing progressions of sonic permutations. The progressions can be short (a few minutes for practice exercises or to announce an event) or long (a few hours for a peal). Because the bells take over a second to swing through a full 360-degree arc, the ringers do not play songs, but rather ring methods. The methods, or rules for generating the permutations, vary in complexity, constantly providing challenges, even for expert ringers.

In addition to the tower bells at the Advent, there will be a mini-ring in Moseley Hall where you are invited to come along, watch, ask questions and even have a go. Open house times for this ring are on Thursday from 10 to 11, and Sunday between the two services.

Note also that in conjunction with this event, the Advent’s change ringing tradition is the subject of this month’s Advent 175 display just outside the church office. Be sure to check it out.


COMING UP


Mark Your Calendars: here are some keys dates for the fall:

Sun, Sep 15: Church School registration

Sun, Sep 22: Church School resumes; Advent Choirs return

Sat, Sep 28: Vestry Retreat and Meeting

Sun, Sep 29: Michaelmas; Entr’acte resumes

Sun, Oct 6: Blessing of Animals/Petting Zoo

Sun, Oct 20: Evensong & Benediction resumes

Sun, Nov 3: Sunday of All Saints

Fri-Sat, Nov 8-9: Guild of All Souls meeting

Thu, Nov 28: Thanksgiving

Sun, Dec 1: Advent Sunday; Bishop’s Visit; 175th Anniversary; Advent Lessons & Carols

Thu-Fri, Dec 5-6: Anglo-Catholic Conference (at The Advent)

More information to come; stay tuned!


ODDS & ENDS


A Note about Community Dinners: In summer, many regular volunteers at the Tuesday supper are away, so if you were ever thinking of trying it out, now is a great time! Contact Barbara Boles (bbolesster@gmail.com) for details.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
August 19-25, 2019

Monday, August 19

Tuesday, August 20
Bernard of Clairvaux
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, August 21
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bellringers set-up

Thursday, August 22
9:30 am: Changeringers Guild
10:00 am: Mini-ring Open House

Friday, August 23
9:30 am: Changeringers Guild
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, August 24
Saint Bartholomew the Apostle

Sunday, August 25
The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass (Mini-ring Open House follows)
11:15 am: Solemn Mass