Collect for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany

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

This Week at the Advent, January 19-25, 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 on the High Altar are given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Peter Ward Britton.


TODAY!


9:00 Coffee Hour: Hosting today are Bette Boughton and Jonnet Holladay. 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 Christopher Laconi, Kyle Pilares, and Steve Kies & Jonathan Maldonado. We are always in need of more volunteers; to view the schedule and select a date to co-host, visit www.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).


10:15 Meeting about Saint Michael’s Conference. Father James will lead a presentation in with the help of parishioners who have attended the conference, served as counselors, or are senior staff members. Every young person who is between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one ought to attend this presentation, but more importantly, the parents ought to attend too. This week-long conference for teaching, learning, worship, and recreation has been offered each year since 1960 and has been a force in the spiritual lives of thousands of high school and college-aged students. Come and find out why. The meeting will take place in Fr. James’s office on the second floor of the Parish House.


Advent Tour. Today following the 11:15 Mass, our Verger, Raymond Porter, will give a 10–15 minute tour of the church building Meet him in the Baptistry immediately following the Postlude and learn about our fascinating, complicated, historic building. Tours occur regularly on the third Sunday of each month.


Organ Recital. Today at 4:30 pm, King’s Chapel organist Heinrich Christensen will play the complete Symphony III of Louis Vierne, in honor of the 150th anniversary year of Vierne’s birth. A fiery and compact piece, it is unusual to hear the Symphony played in its entirety, rather than merely as excerpted movements. Our glorious Aeolian-Skinner organ and rich acoustics perfectly suit the character of this music.

Following Mr Christensen’s recital, The Advent Choir will sing Evensong at 5:00. The canticle settings will be by the Spanish Renaissance masters Sebastian Aguilera de Heredia and Tomás Luis de Victoria. While Victoria is well-known to 21st century listeners, Aguilera de Heredia from Aragon is not nearly as celebrated, and yet he is considered the first major figure of the Aragonese School of music. He was first the organist at the cathedral in Huesca, and then moved to the more prestigious position of Maestro de Música at La Seo Cathedral in Saragossa, a magnificent and ancient cathedral which one can visit today, with a very colorful and tumultuous history. His double-choir Mode VIII Magnificat is joyful and multifaceted, very much like the architecture of the unique La Seo Cathedral itself. Weelkes’s spectacular “Alleluia, I heard a voice” with words from Revelation, and Charles Wood’s festive “Hail gladdening light”, will round out the evening’s musical offerings.

Following Evensong and Benediction, there will be a light supper and a talk in Moseley Hall by Deacon Daphne Noyes. The title is “William Croswell: Begun, Continued and Ended in Thee”, about the life and times of William Croswell (1804-1851), first rector of the Church of the Advent. Croswell is rarely mentioned without placing at the center his conflict with Bishop Manton Eastburn, which marked nearly his entire tenure as rector. But there is more to his story which can help round out our understanding of the man and the parish he was so instrumental in forming. Deacon Noyes will offer a portrait of the William Croswell you (probably) never knew, drawing on his copious correspondence with his mentor, the Right Rev. George Washington Doane, and other contemporary sources. Rarely-seen artifacts from the Advent Archives provide additional context and round out the presentation.


The Twelfth Night Silent Auction. As we prepare to close the books on our Twelfth Night Silent Auction, we are pleased to report that $4,247.87 was raised for Advent 175 conservation efforts. If you placed a bid at the auction and have not yet paid for or picked up your item(s), please see Deacon Daphne or Robb Scholten. For those paying by check, please be sure to indicate “Advent 175” in the memo line. Thanks to all who contributed to the success of this event!


Missing coat. Fr Macdonald-Radcliff is missing a dark gray raincoat that disappeared from the coat room last Sunday. Since a similar coat (but with epaulets) was left hanging there, we assume that someone simply grabbed his by mistake. If you can help us solve this mystery, please see Fr Macdonald-Radcliff or contact the church office.


Reminder: for those who have requested them, pledge envelopes are available for pick-up in the back of the church.


A note of thanks from Father Welch:

Now that I’m back in my beloved cabin in the Maine woods, I want to thank the congregation of the Church of the Advent for all the kindness shown to me during the interim year. From the very first telephone conversation with Tom Brown and Paul Roberts in the autumn of 2018 until last Monday, when I turned in my keys to Jim Singletary, I couldn’t have asked for a more congenial place to work and lovelier people to work with.

Special thanks should go to my clerical colleagues, Father James, Father Hanson, and Deacon Noyes, who overlooked my occasional grumpiness and covered for my more than occasional shortcomings. Each of them has extraordinary gifts for ministry and you are indeed fortunate to have had them among you. And let me note that Father Allan Warren brought each of them to the Advent, once again showing his remarkable gift for finding just the right people. Thank you, Allan. It was a privilege to follow you in ministry, first at Good Shepherd, Waban, and finally at the Advent.

Not having been an interim before, I was unprepared for what I now know is the major problem with interim ministry, which is that just as you feel like you’re beginning to know people (and remember their names!) it’s time to go.

Even though my time at the Advent was short, I pray that I was able to return some of the kindness shown to me and to express the gratitude I felt and still feel for the unexpected blessing of ending my priestly ministry in such a place and among such people. My heartfelt thanks to you all.   

Fr Truman Welch


NEXT SUNDAY


WARRANT FOR THE ANNUAL MEETING

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CLERK:

The Vestry has set the next Annual Meeting of the Parish for Sunday, January 26, 2020. At that meeting there will be elections for Vestry and for Diocesan Convention. To qualify to vote in a Parish election, you must be a baptized Christian, at least 16 years of age, who makes a regular, recorded contribution to support the Parish for the preceding year. You must also subscribe to the authority of the Parish By-Laws and the Canons of the Diocese.

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

The Advent needs and values the participation of new parishioners, both in Parish life and Parish governance.

In accordance with Article IV, Section 2, of the By-Laws of the Parish of the Advent, the Clerk has posted the Warrant for the Annual Meeting in the lobby of the Parish Hall, The Vestry has called the Annual Meeting for Sunday, January 26, 2020, at 10:00 am.

Faithfully yours,
Frederick Ou, Clerk

REPORT OF THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE

The following have been nominated for election at the Annual Meeting:

For Treasurer (One year term): Adam Rutledge (incumbent)         
For Clerk
(One year term): Frederick Ou (incumbent)

For Vestry (Four seats, three year term):

Christopher Laconi (incumbent eligible for re-election)
Philip LeQuesne (incumbent eligible for re-election)
John Boyd
Thatcher Gearhart
Betsy Ridge Madsen
Carolyn McDermott

For Delegate to Diocesan Convention:

Julianne Turé (incumbent)
Nick Westberg

For alternate delegate:
Robb Scholten

More about the Annual Meeting:

The voting roll is posted outside the church office for review. If you believe there is an error of omission or commission, please contact the Clerk and the Wardens by the end of the day on Thursday, January 23.

So that all members to attend, there will be no Church School or childcare during the meeting.

In addition to the annual report, we will be distributing the latest update of our parish directory. If any of your contact information (address, phone, email) has changed recently, please be sure to contact the office by Tuesday, January 21.


Deacon Noyes Appreciation. Next Sunday, January 26, the Rev’d Daphne Noyes will serve her last Sunday as our Deacon before her retirement. We will plan an appropriate celebration of Daphne’s ministry later in the spring. In the meanwhile, we will be collecting a purse to provide a farewell and thank-you gift from the Parish family. To make a contribution, you can find envelopes at the back of the Church, marked “Deacon Noyes Purse”, or you may send a check to the office with that memo. Please be generous.


A special custom for The First Sunday after The Epiphany

Saint Matthew tells us that when the wise men arrived in Bethlehem to visit Jesus, they found him and his mother in a house, not the stable where they had found their first temporary shelter. This is a cue that our Epiphany celebration should focus on our own houses, and it is a very old custom to bless houses on Epiphany. In the East, in particular, it is the custom for the parish priest to go through the parish blessing houses — not the elaborate blessing of a new home, but a special blessing that is also often given at Easter, a renewal of the homes in which the people of God dwell and live out the mystery of faith day by day. In recent years, this custom has been revived in some places in the West, and the Book of Occasional Services of The Episcopal Church provides forms for this blessing. However, there is another way of blessing homes at Epiphany that begins in church, but does not require the priest to go from house to house — something that would be quite impossible in many non-geographical parishes like ours. This custom involves chalk that is blessed by the priest and taken home by families to mark the doors of their homes.

On this, the First Sunday after Epiphany, we have a basket of blessed chalk on the table near the main door of the Church. The chalk is to be used to hallow all our homes throughout our parish and our city. Please take some home with you. The initials of the legendary names of the wise men are written with blessed chalk on the lintel above the front door of the house, framed by the numbers of the new year, in this way:

20 + G + M + B + 20

After making the inscription, the following prayer is offered:

Leader: The Lord be with you.

People: And with thy spirit.

Leader: Let us pray. O Lord, holy Father, Almighty, everlasting God, we beseech you to hear us and vouchsafe to send your holy Angel from heaven to guard and cherish, protect and visit, and evermore defend all that dwell in this home. I call upon thy Saints Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, to protect my family, friends and all who enter here from every harm and danger, and I place this mark over my door to remain as a reminder to us that my home is truly the House of the Lord. O God, make the door of my house the gateway to thy Eternal Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Lord.  

All: Amen.


COMING UP!


Entr’acte Resumes. After the holiday hiatus, Entr’acte will be back beginning February 9. For those new to the Advent, Entr’acte (“between the acts”) is our series of adult-education presentations held between the 9:00 am and the 11:15 am Solemn Masses. They are generally led by the clergy with occasional presentations by parishioners or guest speakers with knowledge in particular areas of expertise or interest.

To kick off this season, our own Rick Stone will lead a series of three sessions entitled “New Testament Perspectives on Old Testament Law.” Continuing February 16 and 23, these presentations begin with “The Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and The Great Commandment”, continues with “Paul and the Law”, and concludes with “Hebrews and the Priesthood of Christ.”


We will “rise against hunger” again on Saturday, February 15, from 10:00 am to noon in Moseley Hall. The Advent is once again hosting a Rise Against Hunger event for the members of our Diocese who are in the Boston Harbor Deanery. We are looking for five or six volunteers from our parish to join volunteers from other parishes around the Deanery to prepare 10,000 meals. That’s right, we will prepare dry food packages, one complete meal in each package with the necessary vitamins and nutrients, that will be sent somewhere around the world where people are hungry. The goal of Rise Against Hunger is to see an end to hunger in our lifetime – a very lofty goal, and we can do our part by stepping up and helping on Saturday, February 15. If you have helped with this event over the past few years, then you already know how much fun it can be. There’s music, some dancing, bells ringing to announce how many meals have been created, and just a good sense of satisfaction knowing that we are reaching out to others in need.

We ask those who volunteer to arrive at 9:45 on that day. We are also looking for donations to offset the $3,500.00 it takes to put on the event and meet the cost of the food and materials. Any gifts and donations to help with this cause will be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in helping or making a donation, please contact Father James. For more info, go to www.riseagainsthunger.org.


STEWARDSHIP


Thanks to those from whom we have recently received pledges. As of Friday we have received 181 pledges, pledging a total of $515,667. 61 have increased their pledges by an average of over 15.6%, and there are 25 from those who did not pledge in 2019. We have yet to hear from 57 pWe have received 190 pledges, pledging a total of $531,327. 66 have increased their pledges by an average of over 16%, and there are 25 from those who did not pledge in 2019. We have yet to hear from 45 parishioners who pledged a total of just over $57,000 last year.


ODDS & ENDS


The flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish. There is an opening for flower memorials or thanksgivings on February 9. If you are interested, please contact the parish administrator (office@theadventboston.org).


Palms for Ashes: There is a basket in the All Saints’ Chapel to receive last year’s palms from Palm Sunday. They will be burned to make the ashes for the liturgies of Ash Wednesday, which falls on February 26 this year.


Bells Rung for Fr Welch. In honor of Fr Welch’s year as interim rector, on Sunday, January 12, the Bell Ringers Guild rang a quarter peal, consisting of 1,342 changes. A list of those who rang is posted in the Parish House.


Discount parking 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


How long will you keep us in suspense?

Title page from “The Practice of Piety, directing a Christian how to walk that he may please God” by Lewis Bayly (d. 1631), bears the name Mary Flagg – she who in 1774 became Mary Wilder. The book and Mary’s journal are part of the Advent Archives.

This plaintive question from John’s Gospel (10:24) marks the conclusion of our History/Mystery series, although not the end of either history or mystery. We will begin, perhaps counterintuitively, at the end: Many people have noticed and commented that Mary Wilder was the name of our former rector’s wife, known to us as Polly. Is there a connection? Yes, indeed. Allan Warren’s wife, Polly, was the third-great-granddaughter of the Mary Wilder who in 1799 wrote her name in the journal. Painstakingly delving into the Wilder family tree does establish some hitherto unknown connections, while leaving some questions unanswered.

  • Who are the “Mr. White” and “Hannah” referred to in the letter found with the book? (“After Mary’s death [in 1811], Mr. White gave the book to Hannah to treasure.”) This must be Mary’s husband, Daniel Appleton White (1776-1861), and Mary’s cousin, Hannah Flagg Gould (1789-1865), a well-known poet of the nineteenth century.
  • Who is the “Mr. Foote” to whom the letter is addressed (“[the book] seems closer to your family than to mine”)? The most likely candidate is Henry Wilder Foote (1875-1964), named after his father, who was the minister of King’s Chapel and the son of Mary Wilder White (1810-1857), daughter of the Mary Wilder of the journal, and Caleb Foote (1803-1894).
  • Who is the Albert Thorndike who wrote the note accompanying the journal? Albert Thorndike (1860-1935) was a financial agent in Boston who married Mary Quincy Gould (1872-1927), the first cousin twice removed of the Mary Wilder of the journal.
  • How, and when, did the book come to be at the Church of the Advent? At this writing, those questions must remain open, as connections between the Advent and Thorndikes, Footes, Whites, and others continue to be sought.
  • Finally, Thorndike’s letter to “My dear Mr. Foote” appears to be dated 1935, not 1925 as stated earlier. This means it was written just three months before Thorndike’s death.

How fitting, then to conclude with this excerpt (below) from “Daily Strength for Daily Needs,” first published in 1884, compiled by Mary Wilder Tileston, a great-granddaughter of Mary Wilder. She died in 1950 in Pima, Arizona, aged 84; her occupation is listed as “Deaconess.”

Long though my task may be,
Cometh the end.
God ‘tis that helpeth me,
His is the work, and He
new strength will lend.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
January 20-26, 2020

Monday, January 20
Fabian, Bishop & Martyr  (Parish Office Closed)

Tuesday, January 21
Agnes

5:30 pm: Bellringers
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, January 22
Vincent of Saragossa

6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bellringing

Thursday, January 23
Phillips Brooks
5:15 pm: Property Committee
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, January 24
8:15 pm: Advent School Community Share
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, January 25
The Conversion of St Paul
10:00 am: Advent Flower Guild

Sunday, January 26
The Third Sunday after the Epiphany
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
10:00 am: Annual Parish Meeting
11:15 am: Solemn Mass

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Dr Jeffrey A. Hanson at the Church of the Advent, January 12, 2020, the First Sunday after the Epiphany

Today the church asks us on the first Sunday of the Epiphany season to meditate on the baptism of our Lord.

The great puzzle about this event is why Jesus should undergo baptism at all. John the Baptist certainly seems puzzled. Jesus Christ has no sin to repent, so why does he need John’s baptism of repentance?

Well, for one thing, I think it reasonable to suppose that Jesus intends to share every part of our lives with us, to enter into every aspect of human existence, a fact that we celebrate in the incarnation that we especially remember at the recently passed Christmas season. In coming to John to be baptized, Jesus in yet another way identifies himself with us and follows a pattern that we need even though he does not.

For another thing, Matthew is at pains to show that Jesus and his family are perfectly adherent to the law of Israel. Jesus has not come, according to Matthew, to abolish the law but to fulfill it. By being baptized by John, Jesus shows his readiness to “fulfill all righteousness” as he puts it, to honor the requirements of religious life even though they are not in fact required of him.

Finally, and I think most important of all, our Lord’s baptism is an opportunity to establish with clarity and certainty who he really is and why it matters. In this moment the three persons of the Holy Trinity seem to align, together breaking into the horizontal line that is human history: The spirit descends upon Jesus, and the Father speaks those definitive words: “This is my beloved Son.”

So begins the drama of Christian salvation. And that drama continues today, here at the Church of the Advent, because we will baptize another young person, baby Keza, into the faith.

To appreciate how the drama of salvation continues through baptism, I want to turn to Peter’s preaching in today’s reading from Acts. I do so because Peter’s preaching ties directly to the baptism of Christ and shows us how the salvation that Christ offered was understood in the earliest days of the church.

You will notice that Peter says God sent his own word to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ and that this process began in Galilee after the baptism offered by John. And Peter informs his listeners that it was precisely at that baptism that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit, just as we read in Matthew.

Yet the consequence that Peter draws from this reminder is what I want to focus on. And that crucial consequence appears at the very beginning of his sermon: “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality.”

Why does he say this? The context of this sermon from Acts chapter 10 never appears in our lectionary and yet is vital to our understanding, so I want to talk about it now.

The context is that Peter is in Jaffa, a seaside village close to modern-day Tel Aviv. He has been staying at the home of a friend called Simon who is a tanner.

Now a tanner works with leather and animal hide, and that means a tanner works with dead bodies, and this is unclean. That Peter is staying in the home of a man whose work makes him continually unclean by ceremonial law is proof that Peter is already loosening his attachment to the particular laws that govern ceremonial cleanliness.

But Peter’s attachment to these particulars is broken entirely when Peter has a vision in which God invites him to eat animals that are ceremonially unclean. When he resists, God tells Peter that what was formerly unclean God now declares clean.

This is a revolutionary change. And another one follows: Another man, in Caesarea, about 40 miles up the coast from Jaffa, has a vision at around the same time as Peter. In his vision an angel tells him to summon Peter from Jaffa and listen to what he has to say. That man is named Cornelius, and there are two strikes against him. He is a Roman centurion and a Gentile.

As Peter is pondering what to make of this new revelation from God, Cornelius’s men arrive at the house of Simon the tanner and invite Peter to Caesarea to meet Cornelius. And so he goes.

Finding Cornelius surrounded by family and friends at his home after the journey, Peter speaks these words: “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”

Now strictly speaking, in the vision that God showed Peter in Jaffa, he learns that he should not call any animal unclean. But the further implication is apparently immediately clear to Peter. It’s not just the case that no animal is unclean. Much more is it the case that no person is unclean.

And that is why he says, “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality.” This is the radical message of Epiphany, that Christ and his salvation is revealed to the Gentiles, and it is the radical message of baptism, that salvation through Christ is available to everyone today because God shows no partiality.

I have actually been to Jaffa.

Last year when I was in Israel I went to church at the Immanuel Church, which was founded by Lutherans in 1904 but because the Christian community there is so small, today the church serves basically all liturgical Protestants. Parts of the service were taken right out of the Book of Common Prayer, so it felt somewhat familiar.

Other parts were not so familiar.

For instance, they had a stained glass window that depicted a scene from Scripture that you hardly ever see: The baptism of Cornelius the Roman centurion. Here was a rare and remarkable image—the acceptance into the family of God the first Gentile. [See https://www.flickr.com/photos/39631091@N03/6035478353/]

Seeing that image made me think about where I was and the experience of these Christian people, who had been here for barely over a hundred years in a village that was already almost two thousand years old when Peter stayed at Simon the tanner’s house.

I thought about how few churches there were, how far I had to walk to get to this one, and how nobody took Sunday off from work.

And I realized that for once in my life I was in church in a country that was not organized around the Christian faith.

For once, I was the outsider. For once, I was the one who did not belong.

Now I did not get my feelings hurt by this recognition. Quite the opposite. I was grateful. And I think the people at the church in Jaffa were grateful. They remember Cornelius in their stained glass window because they and we are the children of Cornelius, who by baptism join in the great family of God wherever it may be found.

Epiphany is about gratitude for Christ’s revelation to those who are outsiders. And that’s us.

In a place where Christianity is everywhere, with a church on every corner, like where I grew up in Texas, it’s pretty easy to feel like God’s favor must amount to God’s favoritism. But just the opposite is true. In the words of the great Presbyterian preacher James Montgomery Boice, “God has shown favor to us precisely because he does not show favoritism.”

The lesson of the baptism of Christ that Peter understood right away is that baptism is the way to a salvation that lies open to all. Jesus comes into our world to identify with us. All of us. From Christ himself to Peter and throughout the chosen people of Israel and then, through the first Gentile, Cornelius the centurion, and from him to the rest of us down to little Keza. God does not show favoritism. Not even to Anglo-Catholics. And thank God for that. Because God does not play favorites, God shows favor to everyone. Amen.

This Week at the Advent, January 12-18, 2020

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 on the High Altar are given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Nancy Hockfield LaPosta.

The flowers in the crossing are given to the glory of God and in thanksgiving for Father Welch’s warm pastoral and theological presence, his heartfelt and illuminating sermons, and his kind care for all parishioners at the Advent.


TODAY!


Both the 9:00 and 11:15 coffee hours are hosted by the parish in honor of Fr Welch’s year of service as our Interim Rector. In addition, cake will be provide at the 11:15 by Celia Reddick & Alain Uwumugambi in celebration of the baptism of their daughter, Keza Isabelle. At approximately 2:00 pm, the Advent Bellringers Guild will ring a quarter peal in honor of Fr Welch.

We are also pleased to welcome back the Rev’d Canon Alistair Macdonald-Radcliff, who will provide interim clerical assistance over the next few months as our many, many staffing transitions occur. Please say hello to Fr Alistair at the coffee hours.

Reminder: For those who have requested them, pledge envelopes are available for pick-up in the back of the church.


Compline at the Advent. Join us today at 8:00 pm, 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.


FROM THE WARDENS


Dear Members and Friends of the Church of the Advent:

We are writing with a brief update on a number of matters.

This Sunday we bid farewell to Father Truman Welch. As we have written before, Truman has made his place as a lifelong member of the Advent family. We thank him for his service as our Interim Rector and wish him well in his renewed (and well-earned) retirement in Maine. Please make a point to stop by one of the coffee hours, which will be festive celebrations of Truman’s ministry, and thank him.

And then, on January 26, the Rev’d Daphne Noyes will serve her last Sunday as our Deacon before her retirement. We will plan an appropriate celebration of Daphne’s ministry later in the spring. In the meanwhile, we will be collecting a purse to provide a farewell and thank-you gift from the Parish family. To make a contribution, you can find envelopes at the back of the Church, marked “Deacon Noyes Purse”, or you may send a check to the office with that memo. Please be generous.

January 26 is also the day of our Annual Meeting. In addition to the usual reports, there will also be a report by the Search Committee on its work leading to the call of Father Anderson as our next Rector. We will also hold elections for Parish offices. We would like to thank the many (!) folks who offered to serve, and also Dustin Henderson and Maria Denslow, who served with us on the Nominating Committee appointed by the Vestry last month. The names of nominees are in this week’s announcements, and the Warrant for the meeting is posted inside the door of the Parish House.

Finally, on February 2nd we will celebrate Candlemas; and welcome Father Anderson as our new Rector, as our transition time officially comes to a close.  More on that exciting day in the weeks to come.

Faithfully yours,

Thomas Brown & Paul J. Roberts,
Wardens.


WARRANT FOR THE ANNUAL MEETING


AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CLERK:

The Vestry has set the next Annual Meeting of the Parish for Sunday, January 26, 2020. At that meeting there will be elections for Vestry and for Diocesan Convention. To qualify to vote in a Parish election, you must be a baptized Christian, at least 16 years of age, who makes a regular, recorded contribution to support the Parish for the preceding year. You must also subscribe to the authority of the Parish By-Laws and the Canons of the Diocese.

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

The Advent needs and values the participation of new parishioners, both in Parish life and Parish governance.

In accordance with Article IV, Section 2, of the By-Laws of the Parish of the Advent, the Clerk has posted the Warrant for the Annual Meeting in the lobby of the Parish Hall, The Vestry has called the Annual Meeting for Sunday, January 26, 2020, at 10:00 am.

Faithfully yours,
Frederick Ou, Clerk

REPORT OF THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE

The following have been nominated for election at the Annual Meeting:

For Treasurer (One year term): Adam Rutledge (incumbent)         
For Clerk
(One year term): Frederick Ou (incumbent)

For Vestry (Four seats, three year term):

Christopher Laconi (incumbent eligible for re-election)
Philip LeQuesne (incumbent eligible for re-election)
John Boyd
Thatcher Gearhart
Betsy Ridge Madsen
Carolyn McDermott

For Delegate to Diocesan Convention:

Julianne Turé (incumbent)
Nick Westberg

For alternate delegate:
Robb Scholten


A special custom for The First Sunday after The Epiphany

Saint Matthew tells us that when the wise men arrived in Bethlehem to visit Jesus, they found him and his mother in a house, not the stable where they had found their first temporary shelter. This is a cue that our Epiphany celebration should focus on our own houses, and it is a very old custom to bless houses on Epiphany. In the East, in particular, it is the custom for the parish priest to go through the parish blessing houses — not the elaborate blessing of a new home, but a special blessing that is also often given at Easter, a renewal of the homes in which the people of God dwell and live out the mystery of faith day by day. In recent years, this custom has been revived in some places in the West, and the Book of Occasional Services of The Episcopal Church provides forms for this blessing. However, there is another way of blessing homes at Epiphany that begins in church, but does not require the priest to go from house to house — something that would be quite impossible in many non-geographical parishes like ours. This custom involves chalk that is blessed by the priest and taken home by families to mark the doors of their homes.

On this, the First Sunday after Epiphany, we have a basket of blessed chalk on the table near the main door of the Church. The chalk is to be used to hallow all our homes throughout our parish and our city. Please take some home with you. The initials of the legendary names of the wise men are written with blessed chalk on the lintel above the front door of the house, framed by the numbers of the new year, in this way:

20 + G + M + B + 20

After making the inscription, the following prayer is offered:

Leader: The Lord be with you.

People: And with thy spirit.

Leader: Let us pray. O Lord, holy Father, Almighty, everlasting God, we beseech you to hear us and vouchsafe to send your holy Angel from heaven to guard and cherish, protect and visit, and evermore defend all that dwell in this home. I call upon thy Saints Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, to protect my family, friends and all who enter here from every harm and danger, and I place this mark over my door to remain as a reminder to us that my home is truly the House of the Lord. O God, make the door of my house the gateway to thy Eternal Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Lord.  

All: Amen.


NEXT SUNDAY!


What Is Saint Michael’s Conference? Next Sunday, January 19, we will have the opportunity to find out. At 10:15 Father James will lead a presentation about the Conference with the help of parishioners who have attended the Conference, served as counselors, or are senior staff members. Every young person who is between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one ought to attend this presentation, but more importantly, the parents ought to attend too. This week-long conference for teaching, learning, worship, and recreation has been offered each year since 1960 and has been a force in the spiritual lives of thousands of high school and college-aged students. Come and find out why.


Advent Tour. Next Sunday, January 19, our Verger, Raymond Porter, will give a 10–15 minute tour of the church building following the 11:15 Mass. Meet him in the Baptistry immediately following the Postlude and learn about our fascinating, complicated, historic building. Tours occur regularly on the third Sunday of each month.


Organ Recital, Evensong & Benediction, and Talk: On Sunday evening January 19 at 4:30 pm, King’s Chapel organist Heinrich Christensen will play the complete Symphony III of Louis Vierne, in honor of the 150th anniversary year of Vierne’s birth. A fiery and compact piece, it is an unusual to hear the Symphony played in its entirety, rather than merely as excerpted movements. Our glorious Aeolian-Skinner organ and rich acoustics perfectly suit the character of this music.

Following Mr Christensen’s recital, The Advent Choir will sing Evensong at 5:00. The canticle settings will be by the Spanish Renaissance masters Sebastian Aguilera de Heredia and Tomás Luis de Victoria. While Victoria is well-known to 21st century listeners, Aguilera de Heredia from Aragon is not nearly as celebrated, and yet he is considered the first major figure of the Aragonese School of music. He was first the organist at the cathedral in Huesca, and then moved to the more prestigious position of Maestro de Música at La Seo Cathedral in Saragossa, a magnificent and ancient cathedral which one can visit today, with a very colorful and tumultuous history. His double-choir Mode VIII Magnificat is joyful and multifaceted, very much like the architecture of the unique La Seo Cathedral itself. Weelkes’s spectacular “Alleluia, I heard a voice” with words from Revelation, and Charles Wood’s festive “Hail gladdening light”, will round out the evening’s musical offerings.

Following Evensong and Benediction, there will be a light supper and a talk in Moseley Hall by Deacon Daphne Noyes. The life and times of William Croswell (1804-1851), the first rector of the Church of the Advent, are rarely mentioned without placing at the center his conflict with Bishop Manton Eastburn, which marked nearly his entire tenure as rector. But there is more to his story which can help round out our understanding of the man and the parish he was so instrumental in forming. Deacon Noyes will offer a portrait of the William Croswell you (probably) never knew, drawing on his copious correspondence with his mentor, the Right Rev. George Washington Doane, and other contemporary sources. Rarely-seen artifacts from the Advent Archives provide additional context and round out the presentation.


NEWS


The Twelfth Night Silent Auction was a rousing success, raising nearly $3,000 to benefit the Advent 175 Conservation Fund. After the Epiphany Mass, parishioners and friends flocked to Moseley Hall to enjoy a festive reception and bid on the assembled treasures. We’re happy to report that nearly everything was spoken for, and are grateful that so many books, prints, paintings, and artifacts have gone to new and loving homes. The funds raised will help us restore and preserve the treasures that remain here. Many thanks to all who pulled together to make the evening enjoyable and profitable. If you’ve not yet paid or picked up your item(s), please see Deacon Daphne or Robb Scholten.


COMING UP!


Annual reports are NOW DUE. If you have not done so, please send yours to the parish office ASAP. Electronic submissions are preferred and using MS Word is greatly appreciated.

In addition to the annual report, we will be distributing the latest update of our parish directory. If any of your contact information (address, phone, email) has changed recently, please be sure to contact the office this week.

Please note that in order for all members to attend, there will be no Church School or childcare during the meeting.


Entr’acte resumes in February. After the holiday hiatus, our Entr’acte will be back on track beginning February 9. For those members new to the Advent, Entr’acte (between the acts) is our series of adult-education presentations held between the 9:00 am and the 11:15 am Solemn Masses. They are generally led by the clergy with occasional presentations by parishioners or guest speakers with knowledge in particular areas of expertise or interest.

To kick off this season, our own Rick Stone will lead a series of three sessions entitled “New Testament Perspectives on Old Testament Law.” Continuing February 16 and 23, these presentations begin with “The Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and The Great Commandment”, continues with “Paul and the Law”, and concludes with “Hebrews and the Priesthood of Christ.”


We will “rise against hunger” again on Saturday, February 15, from 10:00 am to noon in Moseley Hall. The Advent is once again hosting a Rise Against Hunger event for the members of our Diocese who are in the Boston Harbor Deanery. We are looking for five or six volunteers from our parish to join volunteers from other parishes around the Deanery to prepare 10,000 meals. That’s right, we will prepare dry food packages, one complete meal in each package with the necessary vitamins and nutrients, that will be sent somewhere around the world where people are hungry. The goal of Rise Against Hunger is to see an end to hunger in our lifetime – a very lofty goal, and we can do our part by stepping up and helping on Saturday, February 15. If you have helped with this event over the past few years, then you already know how much fun it can be. There’s music, some dancing, bells ringing to announce how many meals have been created, and just a good sense of satisfaction knowing that we are reaching out to others in need.

We ask those who volunteer to arrive at 9:45 on that day. We are also looking for donations to offset the $3,500.00 it takes to put on the event and meet the cost of the food and materials. Any gifts and donations to help with this cause will be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in helping or making a donation, please contact Father James. For more info, go to www.riseagainsthunger.org.


STEWARDSHIP


Dear Fellow Advent Parishioners:

Thanks to all who have already sent in their pledges for 2020. For those parishioners who have not yet had the opportunity to make their pledges for 2020, we would like to encourage your thoughtful consideration to pledge whatever amount possible to support the challenges we collectively face as the worshipping community of the Advent. It is never too late to step forward and contribute whatever is appropriate. Please give further consideration to this year’s extended campaign for your “Time & Talent” which are a meaningful contribution of your stewardship at The Advent.

Please send in your pledges to the Parish office by mail, email or simply dropping in the Sunday collection; you can also easily pledge online by going to www.theadventboston.org and clicking the “Pledge Online” button.

All the best to everyone for your support of the Stewardship Campaign 2020.

Yours in the service of Christ our Savior and Redeemer,

Francesco Piscitelli and Thatcher Gearhart
Stewardship Committee 2020, Co-Chairmen

Thanks to those from whom we have recently received pledges. As of Friday we have received 181 pledges, pledging a total of $515,667. 61 have increased their pledges by an average of over 15.6%, and there are 25 from those who did not pledge in 2019. We have yet to hear from 57 parishioners who pledged a total of approximately $69,195 last year.


ODDS & ENDS


The flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish. There are openings for flower memorials or thanksgivings in February. If you are interested, please contact the parish administrator (office@theadventboston.org).


Discount parking 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


Mystery leads to history leads to mystery: Continued

The initial quest was to discover why the Advent has a petite journal, dated 1799, with the names Mary Wilder and Hannah F. Gould inscribed. In Part I, we determined that Mary and Hannah were cousins; their mothers were sisters. Searching for a link to the Advent led to an exploration of their genealogy. As the investigation deepened, links to some unexpected people emerged. Below is a genealogical chart with the Mary Wilder who wrote her name in the journal at the center, flanked by some of her nearly identically named relatives. Images from the journal are also included.

The following text is an excerpt from “Memorials Of Mary Wilder White,” by Elizabeth Amelia White, edited by Mary Wilder Tileston, published in 1903:

When only seventeen years old she became engaged to Antoine Van Schalkwyck, a young West Indian planter, who was exiled from his home in Guadeloupe during the years following the French Revolution. After many vicissitudes and anxieties they were married in 1801, when she was twenty years old, and not long after sailed for Guadeloupe. They arrived at an unfortunate moment: the island was in a state of insurrection, a mulatto having just been put in the place of the French Commandant, and there was general distrust and terror. Yellow fever was raging violently, and in three weeks from the day they landed her idolized brother, who had accompanied her on account of her husband’s ill-health, died of the fever. Three weeks later her husband died, leaving her alone in a foreign land. A few days after this a plot of the negroes to massacre all the white inhabitants was discovered, only a few hours before it was to take place and she had to fly to a neighbouring island. There she stayed for many months, until troops arrived from France after a hard struggle, put down the insurrection and restored order. She was desperately ill herself with yellow fever and a succession of other illnesses, and it was a year before she could return to her friends.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
January 13-19, 2020

Monday, January 13
Hilary of Poitiers
5:15 pm: Girl Scouts

Tuesday, January 14
5:30 pm: Bellringers
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, January 15
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bellringing

Thursday, January 16
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, January 17
Antony, Abbot in Egypt
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, January 18
The Confession of St Peter

Sunday, January 19
The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
10:15 am: Church School/St. Michael’s Conference meeting
11:15 am: Solemn Mass
4:30 pm: Organ Recital
5:00 pm: Evensong & Benediction, followed by supper & talk

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d George Truman Welch at the Church of the Advent, January 5, 2020, the Second Sunday after Christmas

In the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

The Lectionary can seem oddly out of synch sometimes.  Today’s Gospel, appointed for the second Sunday of Christmas, is Matthew, which starts, “Now when the wise men had departed.”  And yet tomorrow is Epiphany, and we gather tomorrow night to celebrate the wise men coming.   But in any case I find myself rather reluctant to let the Christmas season go.  I have two images from this Christmas season, two pictures.  Fr. James pointed out in last week’s sermon that pictures often carry a heavier weight of meaning than do words on a page, and that’s certainly true of Christmas.  You can see that in the way the birth narratives of Jesus are written, especially by Luke.  He lays it on heavy.   And when people complain about Christmas being sentimentalized, I think we can go all the way back to Luke and say, “You started it”:  the babe lying in a manger, in swaddling clothes; the shepherds watching the sheep, at night, having the birth announced to them by an angel.  Luke pretty much pulls out all the stops.   He wants it to be sentimental.  He wants those images to stick, and they do.  And so I am unapologetic for having this sermon be about two Christmas images:  one is about a child, that’s one image; and the other is a donkey.  The donkey’s right there [pointing over to the Epistle side of the Crossing].   In my more than 40 years of parish ministry I have never before as I can recall used a prop for a sermon.  But now at the end I guess I’m justified in doing so.

First of all, the child.  At the Family Mass on Christmas Eve, often called the “Teddy Bear Mass” here, children and their families bring up stuffed animals and pajamas and put them in the crèche over there, meant for children who may not have those things at home, or certainly not have them in abundance.  On Christmas Eve the Sacred Ministers were kneeling there as the children and their families brought the gifts to the crèche, and there was one child – I’m not good at estimating the age of children – maybe 5 or 6, who laid his gifts there but wouldn’t leave.  Don’t bring out your devices right now, but there’s an image on the Advent website of this happening, of a little blond-headed boy, standing between the Sacred Ministers, transfixed by what he saw before him.  And he wasn’t so much looking down at the teddy bears as he was looking straight at the crèche itself, and then up at the angel.  We don’t know who he was, apparently a visitor.  His mother was a little embarrassed and tried to drag him back, but he wouldn’t go.  He stood there for a very long time, not moving, but just staring.  In wonder, one has to think. One doesn’t know what he was wondering about, that’s the nature of wonder, not to be sure what one is wondering about, that’s what makes it wonder.  But the fact that he was awestruck and had been taken to another place of consciousness I think is irrefutable.  That child standing in wonder, in front of the crèche scene, is an image of Christmas I’ll take with me and remember for a long, long time.  Because wonder is one of the essential elements in the spiritual life, along with longing.  Longing is what starts you on a spiritual journey, longing for something you sense may be ahead, longing for something you know you don’t have, and which you really can’t even define.    And then wonder is arriving someplace, seeing that for which you’d journeyed and searched, but not understanding it, or comprehending it, but knowing that you’ve reached someplace significant, and standing before that place, that consciousness, that event, that person, in wonder.  Wonder is an essential component for the beginning of religious life, it’s an essential quality of religious life, of Christian life, from the beginning to the end.  And once you lose that, if you lose it, you’ve lost the essence of the faith.  We can have perfectly orthodox theology, our practice of the faith, of good works, can be correct and self-sacrificing in every sense, but unless we have with those beliefs a sense of wonder, then we’ve missed the point.  It’s rather like saying the Creed as if it’s a recipe book:  put all these beliefs together and then you come up with Christian faith, instead of seeing the Creed for what it is, a shouted hymn of praise.

What you should take away with you from Christmas is most of all a sense of wonder.  Because when you go through the tough times in life, when you go through your own Lent, Holy Week, Good Friday, unless there is that wonder you remember to sustain you, I doubt if you’ll make it through. 

So, that’s one image, that child.  The other is the donkey.  

The donkey made its appearance at the Christmas Pageant, on Advent III.  I was really touched by the donkey coming down the aisle, with a little tinkly bell, in silence, bearing Mary on his back, led by Joseph.  [By the way it’s the most impressive church donkey I think I’ve ever seen.]  But what really moved me – and one person at the 8 o’clock service looked at me when I said this as if I’d lost my mind – and let me talk a little bit about inanimate objects.    Inanimate objects, nonliving things, live when we give them a sense of meaning.  I can remember as a 16-year-old walking into Chartres Cathedral and falling down on my bottom.  I couldn’t stand up.  It was a building of stone and glass, but 800 years of people worshipping in that place had made it a living entity.  So I make no apologies for what I’m about to say about the donkey.

For some reason, I’m not sure why, the donkey has stayed here through the Christmas season, shunted into the vestibule just a few days ago.  It had sat for a long time right outside the Lady Chapel.   And when I would go to say my prayers in the Lady Chapel I would pet the donkey on the head.  And I did that increasingly with a sense of, of what, gratitude, I guess.   For what?  Well, there was something about the donkey’s presence which I found humbling and reassuring.   The donkey is brought out once a year, it performs its humble function, then it goes back down to the undercroft.  The donkey for me became a symbol of patience, which is a quality I don’t have very much of.  I want things to happen and I’m impatient when they don’t happen when and how I want them to.   I make myself miserable with my impatience, and I’ve been told that I make other people miserable, too.  Patience is a byproduct of an even more important Christian virtue, which is humility.  Humility is basic honesty, about yourself, and about life, about your limitations, about your range of experience, knowledge, and sympathy.  It’s knowing yourself for who you are.   Not who other people see you as being, or how you want to be seen, but how you are now.  Humility is what makes a person patient.  Because impatience is about assuming you know how and when things should happen.  Real humility makes you understand that you really don’t have the knowledge, the qualities, the depth of experience to know those things, how and when those things should happen    And so the donkey for me became a totem, an icon, of humility and patience.

One more thing about patience.  This isn’t my last Sunday, but it’s my last Sunday sermon.  So I would like to thank all of you for making me feel so much at home in this place for the past year.  And I’d also like to ask you to be patient during the next part of the transition, as you receive your new rector.  There’s a lot of joyful expectation and with it some anxiety, as there always is when this kind of event takes place.  I would like you to be patient with your new rector, get to know him, let him get to know you.  Don’t rush at him with a list of unnegotiable demands.  If you want to know him, let him know you, and not only your position on items, but why you’re here, what this place means to you, what you hope it will become, how you hope it will remain.  And then listen to him talk about those same things, what his hopes are for this place and for his ministry here.  And I pray that you will receive him with the same graciousness with which you received me. 

And now to God, with thanks for all that has been, and with prayers for ourselves, that our response to God in the days to come will be “Yes. Yes.”   Amen.

This Week at the Advent, January 5-11, 2020

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 today are Barbara Boles with Mary & Paul Roberts. 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 Maggie Eggert & Nick Westberg with Olivia James. We are always in need of more volunteers; to view the schedule and select a date to co-host, visit www.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).

For those who have requested them, pledge envelopes are available for pick-up in the back of the church.


Today marks the opening of our 36-hour Twelfth Night Silent Auction, to benefit the Advent 175 Conservation Fund. Books and artworks are on display in Moseley Hall; bidding takes place during coffee hours. Here’s how: each item has a bid sheet with an opening bid listed. Simply write your name, contact information, and the amount you are bidding on the sheet. There are lots of treasures from which to choose — as well as a Free Table, and a Low-Fixed-Price table for $5 and $10 items. Additional bidding takes place after the Epiphany service on Monday; the auction will close Monday evening, during the reception following the service. Questions? See Deacon Daphne or Robb Scholten.


THIS WEEK!


The Feast of the Epiphany Procession & Solemn Mass. Monday, January 6, 6:30 pm. A light reception will follow in Moseley Hall and includes the conclusion of our Twelfth Night Silent Auction (see above for details).


Theology on Tap meets this Tuesday, January 7, 2020, at 7pm at Silvertone Bar & Grill, 69 Bromfield Street, Boston, Sr. Maria Theotokos Adams will discuss “Sanctified Time: Myth or Reality?”
 
Sr. Maria Theotókos

The Scottish mystic George MacDonald (1824 – 1905) famously noted: “Every day is Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter.” Yet, Christians have liturgical calendars and universally acknowledge Sunday as the sacred dies Domini. Early Christian laity and various ascetic movements invested heavily in structured times for prayer according to the natural rhythms of the earth.
 
Today the advent of uninterrupted electricity and expansive cyberspace has expanded the time for work, leisure, and human activity beyond the limits of the rising and setting of the sun. So does it matter when we pray? Is the flow of time really marked by the sacred? How might we participate in the sanctification of time – personal and ecclesial? What new insights could we gain from ancient and medieval Christian understandings of sacred time?

Sr. Maria Theotókos Adams, SSVM, a native of Washington, grew up near Charlottesville, Virginia, before attending Columbia University in New York. While pursuing her BA in Ancient Studies, she spent a semester at Hebrew University in Jerusalem also attending courses at the École Biblique. Sr. Theotókos entered religious life in 2001, and professed her perpetual vows in 2008. She is a member of the Catholic missionary community the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará (SSVM) – female branch of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word (IVE).
 
Sr. Theotókos completed her Master’s in Church History at The Catholic University of America in 2016 with a focus on Bede’s reception of The City of God and his role in transmitting the legacy of Augustine. Venturing back to the earliest systematic Christian historiography, she is now pursuing her doctorate in Church History on Eusebius of Caesarea and liturgical time.
 
Her father, Rev. Thomas E. Adams, can be found at Church of the Advent as presider of the Tuesday midday liturgies and chaplain to the Tuesday-night suppers for the homeless.

NEXT SUNDAY!


Thank you, Father Welch. Next Sunday, January 12, will be Fr. Truman Welch’s last Sunday with us as our Interim Rector. We will celebrate and thank Father Welch at both coffee hours that day, and wish him well as he resumes his retirement in Maine. As the Wardens have said, in his year with us Father Welch has not only earned the respect and affection of the whole congregation, but also secured his place as a lifelong member of the Advent family. Please join us next Sunday to thank Fr. Welch for his ministry among us.


Compline at the Advent: Join us next Sunday, January 12, 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!


Parish Office Nominations: At the Annual Meeting on January 26, there will be elections for four Vestry seats, Clerk, Treasurer, and two Diocesan Convention Delegates. This year’s nominating committee includes the Wardens (Tom Brown and Paul Roberts), Maria Denslow, and Dustin Henderson. Please submit any proposed names to one of them before Epiphany.


Please submit all annual reports to the parish office by Friday, January 10. Electronic submissions are preferred and using MS Word is greatly appreciated.


What Is Saint Michael’s Conference?: On Sunday, January 19, we will have the opportunity to find out. At 10:15 Father James will lead a presentation about the Conference with the help of parishioners who have attended the Conference, served as counselors, or are senior staff members. Every young person who is between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one ought to attend this presentation, but more importantly, the parents ought to attend too. This week-long conference for teaching, learning, worship, and recreation has been offered each year since 1960 and has been a force in the spiritual lives of thousands of high school and college-aged students. Come and find out why.


STEWARDSHIP


Thanks to those from whom we have recently received pledges. As of Friday we have received 176 pledges, pledging a total of $480,627. 60 have increased their pledges by an average of over 15.5%, and there are 24 from those who did not pledge in 2019. We have yet to hear from 57 parishioners who pledged a total of approximately $109,895 last year. You can pledge online by going to the parish website, www.theadventboston.org, and clicking the “Pledge Online” button, or pick up a pledge packet in the church.


ODDS & ENDS


Discount parking 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


Mystery leads to history leads to mystery: Part I

Mystery: Why does the Advent have a petite, slender 18th century journal, accompanied by a letter dated May 12, 1925, tucked into its pages, addressed to a Mr. Foote, from Albert Thorndike? He writes:

I have a little blank book signed, twice, by Mary Wilder with date May 2, 1799 & also signed by Hannah F. Gould. It is partially filled by notes, & copies of bits of literature. First entries by Mary, probably. Later ones, from the handwriting, by Hannah. A fair guess is that the young ladies – Hannah was about nine years the younger – related and quite likely already knowing each other, became very close friends in Newburyport. That after Mary’s death, Mr. White gave the book to Hannah to treasure. Its interest is only one of family memento [sic], & it seems closer to your family than to mine. So I am taking it to my office (Room 658, 10, P. O. Square) that you may, if you wish, call at convenience – no hurry – to see it. If you care to carry it away, do so.

History: To tackle the mystery, some history was needed. First, who were the two young ladies? Mary Wilder was elusive (at least initially) but Hannah Flagg Gould (1786-1865) was quickly identified as a nineteenth-century poet of some renown; she never married and lived in Newburyport. Additional genealogical research revealed Hannah’s lineage: Her father was Captain Benjamin Gould (1751-1841), a veteran of the Revolutionary War battles at Lexington, Bunker Hill, and West Point, among others. At Lexington, it is reported, “he received a bullet wound, the scar of which was conspicuous on his cheek throughout his long life, and formed the subject of a poem by his daughter…” Hannah’s mother was Griselda Apthorp Flagg (1753-1827), whose sister, Mary (Polly) Flagg (1750-1811), married Josiah Wilder (1744-1788). So the Flagg connection links Mary and Hannah as cousins. Yet even after establishing this, a mystery remains: what are the relationships between Hannah, Mary, Mr. Foote, Mr. Thorndike, and Mr. White? Will they explain how the journal came to be at the Church of the Advent, and why?

More to come in Part II.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
January 6-12, 2020

Monday, January 6
The Epiphany
6:30 pm: Procession & Solemn Mass; Reception follows

Tuesday, January 7
6:00 pm: Community Supper
7:00 pm: Theology on Tap @ Silvertone Bar & Grill, 69 Bromfield Street

Wednesday, January 8
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bellringing

Thursday, January 9
Julia Chester Emery

Friday, January 10
William Laud of Canterbury
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, January 11

Sunday, January 12
The First Sunday after the Epiphany
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
11:15 am: Solemn Mass
8:00 pm: Compline

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Jay C. James at the Church of the Advent, December 29, 2019, the First Sunday after Christmas

No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

The Incarnation of Our Lord and His Resurrection to eternal life mark human history in a way no other events have or ever will.  One of the two big events in human history has just happened.  God Almighty has broken through space and time and come into the world.  Be careful, because if you look around you may decide that it’s not a big event at all.  You may come to the conclusion that it’s not as colossal and world-shaking of an event as it was supposed to be.   Here we have had the Birth of the Son of God and the world pretty much looks the same.  One would think that we should experience major differences in the lives of men and women.  At least there ought to be major shifts in the Earth’s crust, or some enormous changes in weather, or some loud noises, something worthy of a press release. We look around outside and see none of that. 

This is probably no different from the morning after the Birth of the Savior in Bethlehem two thousand twenty years ago.  When Mary and Joseph looked outside the lowly stable, or cave, after Mary had given birth to God’s Son, the world pretty much looked the same.  Shepherds had the dreadful episode with the multitude of angels and were directed to go and see the Child Jesus.  Some were made aware of the birth because the shepherds ran to tell them what they had seen.  Yet, all this was the night before, now the world looked the same.  The daylight dawns, Joseph, Mary, and the Babe need to keep moving.  Where is the dramatic difference? 

Are we any different?  After all of our preparations, and some of them frantic, for the great twelve-day celebration of Jesus’ birth, may now not notice much of a difference.  The decorations are coming down. The trees are appearing on the sidewalks.  It’s back to work or school, back to the routine, back to the way things were before what was supposed to be a huge event.  Each year I try to preserve the wonderfully warm feelings and sentiments that come every Christmas.  It is not possible.  Christmas comes quickly and goes quickly and the surroundings go back to looking and feeling the same.  Maybe that’s why there is this phenomenon of a kind of letdown or slight depression after big holidays.  The surroundings just do not let us hold on to the enormity and indescribable excitement of the Lord’s birth. 

This problem of not seeing a real difference after the Birth of the Savior is really the result of Christianity being a religion that has to be revealed.  Believing in Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, the Word made flesh, has to be shown to us and perpetuated for us because all the action begins and ends in God.  To see it, to believe it, to act on the belief of the Word made flesh requires revelation to us by words and images.  These are the best way for the Christian religion to come to us.  They are the best way because they are the way chosen by God.  God comes to us by the words and images of the Bible.     

We know this quite naturally.  Don’t we rely on pictures to show us events all the time?  Pictures are so powerful and we know it.  How many beautiful Christmas cards do we receive with family pictures taken over the past year?  When they arrive at our homes we hustle to have them reveal what our families, friends, and loved ones look like now.  Consider how frequently we take pictures and consider them a blessing.  Especially now that picture taking, preserving, and sharing are so easy and expertly done with the sophisticated cameras on our mobile phones. Henrik Ibsen, the Norwegian playwright and director, first said A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.  This was later paraphrased into A picture is worth a thousand words and the truth of the adage is strong when considering religion that is revealed. 

We will not see nor remember the power of the Incarnation without the images of Scripture.  We will only know what Saint John proclaims in the Gospel when he writes,  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth;  John the Evangelist goes on, No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.  God must be revealed or we are not going to know Him.  We in fact do know Him, because He has been revealed by these images given to us by God.  Artists, poets, and writers understand and grasp this principle of receiving and giving proper imagery to convey truth.  C.S. Lewis, one of the most popular twentieth century Anglican writers, describes this necessity of using proper images to even understand the nature of God.  In a collection of his essays he writes,  ….we know from our poetical experience that image and apprehension cleave closer together than common sense is here prepared to admit.  How do we even come close to knowing the all powerful, all knowing, ever-present God without the proper images?  The images are important because they are the images chosen by God therefore they are inspired. 

Think of just some of the images revealed to us by the Bible:  Israel as a chosen nation and people;  The suffering servant from the Prophet Isaiah as Christ Himself;  Noah’s Ark as the Church; The Ark of the Covenant as a symbol of the Lord; The Church as the New Israel; The Church as the Bride of Christ and Christ as her husband;  God the Father from the Lord’s Prayer; or one not from Scripture, but from our own liturgy, the Babe carried to the creche this past Christmas Eve.  All these are images and symbols that convey to us the nature of God and how He loves us.  These images are essential to helping us understand something of the Word of God.  We will not know the difference in the world.  We need the words and images of our religion from the Bible to learn, live and pass on our religion. 

When the Gospel of John proclaims And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.  (John bore witness to him and cried, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.’”)  And from his fullness have we all received, grace for grace.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  There it is.  That is the difference.  That is how things are not the same for those who believe.  God reached out to the world by His Son in one of the greatest acts of love the world has ever known.  He reached out to us so we could share in His life.  He becomes part of humanity so we can have some part in His divinity even now.  John Henry Cardinal Newman, one of the founding fathers of the catholic revival in Anglicanism, when describing how the Holy Ghost comes into our lives, writes…He pervades us (if it may be so said) as light pervades a building, or as a sweet perfume the folds of some houourable robe; so that, in Scripture language, we are said to be in Him and He in us.  It is plain that such an inhabitation brings the Christian into a state altogether new and marvellous, far above the possession of mere gifts, exalts him inconceivably in the scale of beings and gives him a place and an office which he had not before.  He has ‘power’, as Saint John says,’to become the son of God’.  That’s how the world, the universe, our whole human state is different.  To finish Cardinal Newman’s Scripture quote, but to all who receive him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; That’s how things are changed now.  He came to us so we can get back to Him. 

The world, the universe, is different and that is Good News for us and all mankind.  The Good and Loving God who is all powerful, all knowing, and all present is with us and in us.  We are able to have Him in our lives and we are able to share in His life.  His powerful act of love in reaching out to us means that He is with us in every aspect of our lives.  All the conditions in which we live will have the love of God in them.  Are we battling loneliness?  Is a friend or loved one close to spending the last days of life here on earth?  Are we in a financial crisis from which there seems no end?   Is there a health problem that is medically unmanageable and draining all resources for treatment?  Jobs, neighbors, taxes, illnesses all try our patience and strain at our lives.  The act of love that is the Incarnation allows us the privilege of having God in our lives no matter what. 

Thank God for the perfect revelation He has provided in giving us the Christ Child.  Let us find Jesus in the manger at Bethlehem, in our hearts and minds by all the ways He reveals Himself to us, and the lives of all faithful believers.  We can now find Him and know Him and that makes all the difference. 

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