Sermon Preached by Eric Fialho at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, February 18, 2018, the First Sunday in Lent

“The Negation of Evil: How Mankind Counters the Devil”

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

I have favorite television shows, we all do, but still one of my favorites is the Twilight Zone.

There is an episode from season two in 1960 entitled “The Howling Man” which is one of the best. It concerns a man named Mr. Ellington who some thirty years prior was lost on a walking holiday in Central Europe in a terrible storm.

He seeks refuge at a monastery called the Hermitage where misfit brothers lead a solitary life. He is given shelter from the storm there for the night. Next he is shown wandering through the ancient, decrepit, and leaky-roofed monastery. He hears a blood curdling howl. It is low at first and then rises to a unnerving height.

He comes upon a cell with a window with bars,  a single occupant, a nameless man therein. He is being jailed there against his will. After this discovery and speaking to the man, Ellington makes up his mind to confront the abbot, Brother Jerome, about what he has discovered there locked up at the Hermitage. Ellington threatens to call the police. After all, the imprisoned man had told Ellington that all the brothers were “raving mad”. In a scene only the Twilight Zone could achieve the staid and serious faced Brother Jerome declares, “that was no man you were speaking with Ellington, that is the Devil himself”

Unconvinced, Ellington retires to bed and then sneaks away from his room to let the man out later that night. When he arrives he now for the first time notices that all that is barring the door to the cell is a roughly-hewn shepherd’s staff. Confused, Ellington asks the imprisoned man, “Is this all that holds you? Why haven’t you lifted it off yourself?”

Next we see Ellington lift the staff from the door and all at once he realizes what he has let out of the cell, it was the devil. Who before our eyes is transformed into the pricked ears and horned headed figure of lore and vanishes.

Fallen on the floor and in shock Ellington looks up to the brothers who are now gathered around him and he declares, “I didn’t believe, I saw him and I didn’t recognize him”. I saw him and I didn’t recognize him.

We have just entered into the season of Lent, where we are invited to look and to recognize the things we want to throw off of ourselves as we walk together towards the resurrection, towards Easter. In Lent we are called to self-examination and repentance, to amend, and to make right. In this season of turning, and of introspection, we can fail to recognize the evil that is far outside of us.

How often it is we fail to recognize devils in our midst, whatever these devils may be, in all it’s forms. It is true too that we are at times unaware of the evil that is near and around us. We are wholly unaware of the delight that evil takes when we fail to recognize it, when we fail to grasp even partly, the power it can sometimes work in our lives.  If only we could lock the devil up. If only evil could be walled up with only straw to walk on and only four small damp walls to look upon.

As more and more days continue with news reports of the evils humans do whether to others or to themselves, we are brought to consider why it is we do what we do. Why it is Satan seems to be gaining. It is easy to fall into an apoplectic mind and feel angry at what seems to be a lack of power to stop what is being worked in the world.

While it is easy to feel disillusioned and to feel outdone and even overtaken by the ills of this world, we as Christians know better. We as Christians are equipped with a knowledge, a knowledge that our Father in heaven has worked Love before all things.

There are times when mankind runs directly into the arms of the devil. There are times when mankind lets the devil lose on others. There are times when we have not even the beginning of an idea we are doing it.

Whether we understand it or not we know what we are doing, we as Christians know, even if just an ounce more, just a bit more, of the weight of dealing with the devil, of being tempted, of what evil entrapment looks and feels like. We know it because we first know of all that is good.

We can sense the fleeting lies because we know the eternal truth.Our Gospel reading from this morning deals with outward temptations and evil, set against the profound goodness and grace of God. And in the middle is Mark’s depiction of Jesus there between water and the desert wilderness.

The parallel here in Mark’s text is striking. All at once Jesus was confronted with the tearing of the heavens and the image of a dove bearing down upon him, and not just that, but the very confirmation that came from God, “You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.” We are told that when Jesus, “…came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove”.

In that moment of standing there in the warmth of the sun, in the waters of the Jordan river, a deep peace and inward realization striking at him altogether, all at once, suddenly. The moment is almost indescribable.

And yet, immediately he is led away from it, to turn from it, and to be alone with his thoughts driven away from the richness and fertility of the waters to the emptiness and barrenness of the desert.

The Greek word meaning immediately, or suddenly, or all at once, occurs some fifty-one times in the New Testament, and it occurs forty-one times in Mark’s Gospel alone. The writer of Mark must have favored it, and used it to draw the attention of his hearers.

Immediately, The Spirit Immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.

Immediately was he sent, he was not sent into yet another grace filled moment like baptism, nor was he sent into quiet meditation and contemplation, no, instead he was sent out into the wilderness into the very clutches of the devil. There where it is thought in ancient texts that the old serpent, dwells, lying in wait.

Readying himself always to clutch at someone.

Jesus was led by the Spirit into this, into being tempted by Satan. Suddenly he found himself mired by doubts, and fears which pressed deeply on his heart and his mind, that scene is indescribable.

How often we are sent, or driven, or even forced out into a sort of wilderness.

Immediately at times, sometimes it is slow, and it is in those times, in those slow and unassuming times which we are hard pressed to understand the evils which can lie in wait for us.

While the immediacy of Jesus’ turn from the waters to the desert is shocking, and altogether wrenching, at least he was able to discern what was graceless in the wilderness for he was first enveloped by grace. He was able to know what evil was because he knew what goodness was. He was able to know allurement, temptation, because he first knew God’s Love, as of a father’s love, a love given which takes nothing.

A love which seeks not to distract, not to trap, no, it is a love which freely courses. It does not dry up, and it is not a lie. We know this too. We know that our wastelands we walk through in this life, in those deserts we encounter, in those moments and days, and even years of temptation and doubt, and of those sensations that evil will always be out there, unavoidable and always grasping, trying to tighten its hold. There is one thing to remember, just one. We can always turn back. We can always get out of there. We can always set our gaze on the truth and not on the lies, on the good and not on the evils that can undo us. It may not seem like much, no, but it is.

 We do not have to stay in the desert. Jesus did not. But he did go through it. He did see for himself what lurked therein. He saw what was there fully, he understood it completely because he first knew, because he first knew what its opposite was, what it’s inverse was and is, what conflicts with evil. What will some day negate evil.

 The devil is not locked up in a cell. We know this. We also know of that indescribable love that descends upon us, on the world, from God.

 We can see that and that we can recognize.

Amen.

Collect for the First Sunday in Lent

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

Collect for the Season:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted of Satan; Make speed to help thy servants who are assaulted by manifold temptations; and, as thou knowest their several infirmities, let each one find thee mighty to save; through 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’s Announcements, February 18-24, 2018

TODAY!


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


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


Childcare is provided for infants and toddlers during both the 9 am and 11:15 am Masses. 

9:00 am—Infant nursery is located on the first floor in the room beyond the Parish Office.  The Toddler nursery is located downstairs in Moseley Hall.

11:15 am—Infants and Toddlers are cared for on the first floor in the room beyond the office.

If you have questions or special needs we want to hear them.  Contact Meg Nelson 856-217-0847 or megwnelson@gmail.com.


9:00 Coffee Hour. Bette Boughton and Jonnet Holladay host this morning’s Coffee Hour. Next week the hosts will be Maggie Dubar and Francesco Piscitelli & Judy Bell. New coffee hour hosts are always needed; please contact Barbara Boles by email bbolesster@gmail.com. or telephone (617-501-7572) if you’re interested or have questions about what is entailed. 

11:15 Coffee Hour.  Maggie Eggert, Nick Westerburg, Mark Aparece and Charles Dale host this morning’s Coffee Hour.  Next week the hosts will be Eric Aho, Michael Oliveri, George McCormick and Philip Le Quesne.  We are in need of more volunteers to do the coffee hour.  To view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com) or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com).  


If you wish to make your Communion by intinction, please do so in the following manner.  Leave the Host on your outstretched hands.  The person administering the Sacred Blood will take it, dip it into the chalice and place it on your tongue.  It will not be placed in your hand.  Please do not attempt to dip the host yourself.  This too often results in a person’s fingers being plunged into the consecrated wine which is irreverent and certainly unsanitary.

And, a reminder, please do not bring coffee into the sanctuary.


Entr’acte—Parishioner Rick Stone continues his presentation of a study of the Sermon on the Mount.  Describing what he intends to do, he says, “The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’s most important and many would say most challenging ethical instruction.  We will spend three sessions delving into its thematic structure, its historical context, and its modern day significance with the aim of making the Sermon an inspiring, rather than daunting, guide.”

Entr’acte will meet, as usual, following the 9 am Sung Mass (at about 10:25 am) in the Library.  


If you find the incense this morning disagreeable, don’t be too distressed.  It’s supposed to be that way.  In Lent we use Myrrh at Mass.  Myrrh, you will remember, was one of the mystic gifts presented by the Magi to the infant Jesus.  It is sharp and acrid and its “bitter perfume” evokes tears and signifies death.  Indeed, in the Middle East, where it is called “the incense of tears,” it is often used at funerals to mask the odor of decomposition. 

In Lent we are directed to meditate upon the passion, suffering, and death which Jesus endured for us.  Myrrh is an olfactory stimulus to focus our attention towards that end.


Today the Mass begins with the Great Litany sung in Procession.  The Litany, which is the grandfather, so to speak, of all intercessory prayers, is quite an ancient form, dating as far back as the fourth century.  It is also much loved in the Anglican Church, and perhaps this is because it was the first act of public worship composed and translated into English by Thomas Cranmer for the Church of England.  Archbishop Cranmer did this at the behest of Henry VIII who, fighting a war with France and Scotland, needed all the help he could get.  Henry directed that the Litany, sung in English and in procession, be prayed all over England for victory over the French and the Scots, and Cranmer obliged with the literary and liturgical genius which would later blossom in the Book of Common Prayer.

Singing a litany in procession is an action as ancient as the litanic form itself.  Since litanies were often prayed for a specific purpose, the congregation would process from the Church to the place where that purpose manifested itself.  For example, if the intention was for God’s blessing upon the harvest, the procession would move from the Church to the fields and back again.  In this way movement became associated with this particular form of prayer, and at present when the Litany is prayed it is usually done in procession.

Since the Litany is itself an intercession, the Prayers of the People are omitted. 


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


This afternoon—Organ Recital, Solemn Evensong & Benediction, and E & B Talk:  Our monthly service of Evensong & Benediction at the Advent resumes this afternoon.  The evening begins with a 4:30 organ recital by Clara Gerdes performing works by Ravel, Whitlock and Reubke.  Evensong & Solemn Benediction follows at 5:00, featuring the music of Dowland, Howells, and Tallis. 

There will not be the usual E & B lecture after this Evensong.   


This year we at the Advent will again recapture the corporate nature of Lenten practice, and we call on every member of the Parish to consider joining others in the following common discipline.  A devotional Guide, A Lenten Journey for the Church of the Advent 2018, is available at the rear of the nave, at the Mt Vernon Street entrance, and online.  It lists the suggested fast for each week along with daily scripture readings which consider bread and wine in Scripture:  first, as offerings to God; second, as signs of God’s presence; and third, as the means of real communion with God through Christ.  The Guide contains a statement expressing your intention to take upon yourself this corporate discipline with others in the Parish.  It can be included with the collection at the Masses today during which your intention will be offered and blessed at the Offertory of the Liturgy.

Engaging in communal fasts and corporate devotional practices will deepen our sense of community, as well as provide support and accountability for each of us in this rich liturgical season.  Each week, those who wish will fast together from a particular pleasure, whether it’s sweets, coffee, entertainment, technology, etc., and we will all read the same scriptural passages and meditate upon the same theme each day.  If you have questions, please get in touch with one of the clergy who will be happy to discuss it with you. 

Please note that this corporate discipline does not replace the public devotions which will be prayed here during Lent. Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament are prayed on Thursdays at 6:00 pm, beginning Thursday, February 22.  


THIS WEEK!


Tomorrow, Monday, February 19, is Presidents’ Day.  The Parish Office is closed; Morning Prayer will be at the regular time of 9:00 am, Low Mass will be at 12:15 pm.  Evening Prayer is cancelled. 


The Devil, The Lamb, and the Throne:  The Book of Revelation Bible Study— Beginning this Wednesday, February 21, Pastoral Assistant Eric Fialho will lead a five-week study of the Book of Revelation.  The study will cover the many beguiling and mysterious themes, symbols, and images presented in the last book of the Bible.  Close attention will be paid to the Book’s historical context, its eschatological themes, and its main theme of good versus evil.  The study will meet every Wednesday from February 21 through March 21 at 7:00 pm. in the Library.  Those wishing to attend are encouraged to read Revelation chapters 1-4 before the first week. 


On Thursdays during Lent at 6 pm, Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be prayed in the church.  At Stations we meditate on the events which led to the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus.  At Benediction we meditate on his Risen Presence with us in the Blessed Sacrament, which flows from his atoning and sacrificial death.  He had to die in order that we might live with and in Him.  That is a truth we think and pray about during the holy season.  Stations and Benediction is a helpful means to that end.  Consider making it a part of your week. 


Parish Work Day — Next Saturday, February 24 — 10 am to 2 pm — Help get the Advent sparkling clean with fellow parishioners. People of all ages and abilities welcome. Contact Brian Sirman (bsirman@bu.edu) or Deacon Daphne (deaconnoyes@theadventboston.org) to sign up.


The Beacon Hill Group meets every two weeks at 7 pm on alternate Thursdays. Its next meeting is at the home of David and Sally Fisher, 33 Branch Street, Boston, on Thursday, March 1. We are currently reading Acts. If you wish to attend please email: davidabbottfisher@comcast.net.


COMING UP!


Lenten Quiet Day—Saturday, March 10—10 am to 2 pm—Explore the spiritual practices of chant and praying with icons during this Lenten quiet day. We will learn simple chants that, by their repetition, help us find a deeper connection to God.  We will also learn about icons, their use through millennia, and how we can pray with them today as we seek to find the divine in our lives.  Meditations will be interspersed with periods of quiet, allowing to refresh and renew our souls.  The day will be led by the Rev’d Miriam Gelfer, associate rector at Parish of the Epiphany, Winchester, and Ms. Mary Street, iconographer and parishioner in Winchester.  The quiet day will be based in Moseley Hall, from 10 am to 2 pm.  Cost is $10, including lunch. Early registration is advised; contact Deacon Daphne: deaconnoyes@theadventboston.org.


MISSION & OUTREACH CORNER


Volunteers Needed for Common Cathedral on March 4—Advent will again be participating in Common Cathedral on Boston Common on March 4.  This time the Advent Youth Group will be helping pack and serve meals and fellowship with the outdoor congregation.  Several more volunteers are needed to help assist in making sandwiches and with serving food.  On March 3 a few hands are needed to help make sandwiches, and on March 4 several volunteers are needed from about 11:00 am – 2:30 pm.  To help please contact Ali White at alinebwhite@gmail.com.


ODDS & ENDS


The Advent Bookstore has just received copies of our own Katelyn Emerson’s new CD recorded here at the Advent.  They are available for sale.


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


The Advent Choir on SoundCloud.  MP3 recordings of the Advent Choir are available on the Advent website’s Soundcloud player.  On the home page, scroll to the bottom of the page, where you will find the player.  https://www.theadventboston.org.

Or, go directly to https://soundcloud.com/mark-dwyer-2/tracks.  Over 2 hours of music and 120 titles are available at this writing. 

The most recent selections appear immediately on the Advent’s homepage; if one goes to the choir’s Soundcloud page, specific playlists are available of Renaissance choral music, Romantic and Contemporary music, or seasonal choral music.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
February 19 – 25, 2018

Monday, February 19
Presidents’ Day (Parish Office Closed)

Tuesday, February 20
5:15 pm: Property Committee
6:00 pm: Community Supper
6:15 pm: Vestry

Wednesday, February 21
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bellringing

Thursday, February 22
6:00 pm: Stations & Benediction
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, February 23
(Polycarp of Smyrna)

Saturday, February 24
Saint Matthias the Apostle
10:00 am: Parish Work Day

Sunday, February 25
The Second Sunday in Lent
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
10:15 am: Church School / Entr’acte
11:15 am: Solemn Mass with the Litany in Procession

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Allan B. Warren III at the Church of the Advent, February 14, 2018, Ash Wednesday

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  That familiar aphorism is taken from a letter written by Benjamin Franklin to a friend in 1789.  Franklin got lots and lots of things right, but this he got wrong.  Or shall we say half wrong.  There is nothing certain about taxes.  For you and me, taxes are inescapable.  But really rich people get away with paying little tax or no tax at all.  We all know that.  Indeed, it would seem that President of the United States gets away with paying little or no tax every year.  But we don’t really know that.  He won’t release his tax returns.  However, since he plays fast and loose with everything else, especially the truth, it is reasonable to suppose that he plays fast and loose with his taxes as well.

So it is death that is the only really certain thing.  It is also the great equalizer.  Death is remarkably egalitarian.  The rich man dead is exactly equal to the poor man dead.  No distinction.

Remember the parable of the man who wished to build bigger barns to store his surplus crops.  According to Jesus, God says to him, “You fool !  This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be.  And who knows whether they will be managed well or squandered ?”  ( Luke 12 )  All that he had worked for taken away by death.  He might as well have been poor.  All that he had worked for handed on to another who might well whittle it away.  So all the work, all the care, all the planning amounting to nothing, coming to nothing.  Perhaps in death it’s better to be poor and leave nothing behind.

Death is the great equalizer, and death is the one absolute certainty.  When we are dead, we are dead. Dead as a door nail.  Dead as a door post. Dead as dust, dust, dust.  That, again, is the one thing that I can say with absolute certainty about myself and also about you:  that at some point like it or not, ready or not, each one of us will die. 

We may see it coming.  Or it may happen in the twinkling of an eye.  But for whatever reason – sickness, age, accident, violence – for whatever reason the heart will cease to beat.  The brain waves will become flat and finally disappear.  The body will become cold and heavy, because there is no life in it.  We call this “dead weight,” don’t we ?

And there will be two moments side by side:  one when we are, and another when we are not.  This is an undoubted and undoubtable fact about you, just as it is an undoubted and undoubtable fact about me.

Some years ago, I pointed all this out to the congregation I was then serving.  When the Mass was over, standing at the church door, I was quite soundly rebuked.  A woman, whom I had never met, took me to task.  “That’s depressing,” she said to me.   “You want people to come to Church.  Well, they’ll never come back if they hear depressing things like that.  You’d better change your tune.”

I was pretty taken aback by this, and since she stormed away, I had no chance to vindicate myself.  Let me do that tonight.  In fact, mortality may not be good news, but neither should it be depressing.  A fact is a fact.  How that fact feels to us depends upon our belief and our attitude.  Our mortality, our being toward death, as some put it, is simply the truth.  And if we wish to live authentic lives, we must deal with the truth. And if we know what Christianity is all about, and if we know what Lent is intended to do, then this truth is not depressing at all.  Indeed, through faith, our mortality becomes one of the most positive, paradoxically joyful things you can imagine.  For Christianity, you see, is about rising from the dead.  Let me say that again.  Christianity is about rising from the dead. Christianity is about new life out of what is old and failing or over.  It is about creation where there was nothing before. 

Christianity proclaims that God through Christ will raise us up, and, dust though we may be, we will not be lost.  God loses nothing.  God loses no-one.  In Christ we are everlastingly found, and God, through Christ, raises and will raise us up.

*     *     *     *     *

In Lent, dear people, you and I are called upon to face facts and to search out those places where we need to be raised, those spiritual nooks and crannies where grace must be applied and new life created.  And Lent proclaims that possibility.  Lent proclaims that you and I can be changed, and that what is dusty and dead, what is diminishing and dead and sinful within us, can be done away with.  And that in this life we can be raised up.

In Lent we are, again, called upon to face facts, and one of those facts, of course, is the big one—our death, our mortality.  At a certain point you and I will be just as lifeless and seemingly beyond possibility as the dust and the ashes that we will all soon wear on our faces.  And we must face that fact, for only when we do face that fact can we know how great is our need for God and for his grace.  Only when we do face that fact can we know how great is our God and how great is his love and how powerful is his grace.  For sin and death itself have nothing to say to the God who breathes life into dust.  Sin and death itself have nothing to say to the Son of God who himself dies to being life. Sin and death have nothing to say to the God who raises the dead. And let us praise him, for both in this life and beyond it, God will raise us up.

Good people, beloved, keep a holy Lent.

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Jay C. James at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, February 11, 2018, the Last Sunday after the Epiphany

…and a voice came out of the cloud, “this is my beloved son; listen to him.”

Our goal is to see Christ in His glory.  We are given the gift of having that vision with us now so we can be prepared for heaven and inspired on the way. 

There are many of us who, at some points in our lives, may look for a reason to go on.  The need may be a goal to pursue or more seriously a reason to exist.  One of the blessings of the Christian religion is that it provides both of these.  We are blessed by the Christian religion to receive reasons to exist, goals to pursue and achieve, and reasons to go on through our earthly lives.  There is a double blessing in that we are not only given reasons to exist, but to continue through our lives with a sense of joy, encouragement and peace. 

On more than one occasion these topics have come up when I have visited parishioners, friends, and even relatives.  The question of the reason God has us here, or why he allows us to continue here under trying circumstances, or what goal or purpose does God have for me, are common questions and concerns, if they are allowed to be raised.  Let’s face it, both the marginal Christian and the faithful, practicing Christian usually do not want to admit they are asking these questions to themselves.  If they hesitate to admit that they are wondering about these questions, then they certainly will not talk about them freely.   Think of the eighty or ninety-year-old nearing the end of an earthly life.  Consider someone seriously ill with a terminal disease; both of these persons have been lifelong Christians.  For them contemplating questions of why God continues to have them here is at least embarrassing, may be seen as a sign of weakness, or at worst an admission that their practice and belief of the Christian faith has been in vain. 

I had this conversation with my father two years before he died.  At the time he was recovering from a stroke and knew that his life was taking on a significant change, and the prospect of living this different existence was not at all attractive.  He could not figure out what God had in mind. He did not seem to see any more purpose in his life here.  He needed some reason to exist.  He needed some purpose to go on, and not go on just to exist, but a positive, purposeful move in the future.  This is not unusual, given his state in life.  These kinds of questions and concerns lie just under the surface and will come up to the surface very easily if we give persons social and emotional “permission” to talk about them. 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has all the answers. So it should provide answers to those of us asking these questions or concerns about God’s purpose for our lives.  I think His Gospel answers these difficult questions about existence, purpose, and goals for our life.  The more I read about, and think about, the Transfiguration, the more I realize how powerful it is and what an inspiration it is.  Think about the portions of the Bible our Office and Eucharistic lectionaries have presented to us since Christmas. We have spent our time since Christmas in the Epiphany Season.  According to the church’s reading of Holy Scripture, that time is to be spent listening about the ways Jesus is shown to be the Savior of the World.  We have heard the miracles.  We have heard what God proclaims about Jesus and finally today we hear the testimony of how Jesus was indeed revealed as the Son of God at the Transfiguration.  We have learned who Jesus really is.  “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.”

That is what Epiphany or “showing forth” is all about; showing forth who Jesus is.  We learn that he is the Son of God, not just another nice man.  We learn that he is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.  He is the living law that was established in the Old Testament and He is everything the prophets proclaimed.  Prophecy in both the Old and New Testaments is often thought of as predicting the future.  The prophets at times are mistakenly thought of as kinds of glorified fortune tellers.  Some think the prophets just say what God is going to make happen.  That is only the partial truth about prophecy. 

Prophecy has to do with interpreting events in the present as well.  The prophecy that we heard last week from Simeon and Anna, so nicely proclaimed and explained by Father Hanson, was setting forth what God is up to in the present.  Knowing that they had seen the Christ because they had seen the Baby Jesus, is a case in point.  Simeon and Anna were not predicting the future.  They were saying what God was telling them to say at that moment.  They were prophets and God was speaking through them at that moment.  The prophecy of Christ coming was fulfilled in Jesus. 

This kind of prophecy is heard today on top of the Mount of the Transfiguration; we see the clear Word of God from God Himself.  Jesus is wonderfully transfigured and appears with Moses and Elijah.  Then God speaks directly to Peter, James and John and declares, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”  It is quite wonderful, I think, because there is no guessing.  The direct word of God is sufficient.  Peter and James and John had little doubt that they had seen and heard the Truth on the top of that mountain.

What an inspiration it must have been to Peter, James and John to have the privilege of seeing Jesus in all His glory.  How reassuring it must have been for their belief.  They were able to see Christ as He truly is.  They saw Him being certified as what He said He is, “The only Son of God.”  No matter how much we are told that Christ is King.  No matter how many times we read the Bible and hear the Word of God. No matter how long we have been Christians, we can still have doubts.  When an event happens like the Transfiguration, you can bet that it goes a long way to remove, or at least relieve some doubt.  Peter and James and John must have had all their doubts and uncertainties done away, for at least a moment, when they witnessed the transfiguration on top of the mount.  But they have to keep this to themselves.  There is more God will accomplish in His Son and that will be revealed in Holy Week.

Have you ever had a moment of reassurance like the Transfiguration?  I hope you have.  Your glimpse of Christ’s Glory does not have to be as dramatic as the Transfiguration.  It would be good if it could be.  I would like that.  But maybe you have had times when, because of an event, large or small, you have come to the conclusion, “Yes, it all makes sense.”  You say to yourself, “There is actually something to this Christian religion, and everything is going to be all right, and I’m on the right track.”  These moments or events are little embryonic epiphanies or tiny transfigurations.  They don’t have to be dramatic, but even the small events, when you realize they are glimpses of Christ’s Glory, can be very powerful and help fulfill or strengthen our spiritual lives.

We need this vision of Christ’s Glory now, as we begin our Lenten journey this Wednesday.  The vision of the Transfiguration serves two purposes for us, placed as it is as our last vision of Christ before Lent.  The immediate purpose is to encourage us through the forty days of Lent.  It will not, and should not, be easy for us as we take on our Lenten practices and disciplines. Keeping the transfigured Christ before us as the ultimate vision and goal can encourage us through Lent and Holy Week.  Remember that we grow in holiness through Lent and Holy Week and in some way have the vision of the Transfiguration come more into focus.

The second purpose of the Transfiguration can be to give us the goal, the purpose, the vision for our whole lives.   Yes; Peter, James and John were encouraged and found the vision so desirable that they wanted to stay and hold the vision.  They could not stay.  They needed to come back down the mountain and continue their lives, even as we need to continue our lives and fulfill the purposes of our lives.  We continue them with the knowledge that growing closer to Jesus all through our earthly lives is a purpose.  The goal is to see Him even as He is seen at the top of the Mount of the Transfiguration; what an encouragement and what a joy.

The reaction of Peter to the Transfiguration, we find out in his second letter, is that he had the prophecy of the Word of God “made more sure.”  He had the Word of God given to him on top of that mountain and he says he knows it is true because he says, “we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain.”  The prophecy he knew of the Christ was “made more sure” because he saw it and heard it with his own eyes and ears.  No interpretation was necessary because the Holy Spirit, at one with the Father and the Son gave them the word directly. 

For us, on this Last Sunday after The Epiphany, we learn that if we want to know what God has to say to us, either as individuals or as a church, we have to go to Him.  Remember, that Elijah had to go to Mount Horeb to hear what God had to say to him.  Peter, James and John had to go to the top of the mountain to hear and see clearly that Jesus is the Law and the Prophets.  We bring ourselves to God in humility.  And sometimes it is not easy.  It is not easy to go up a mountain and admit that maybe God knows better for us, than we know for ourselves.  But that is all right.  It may take quite a struggle to get to God.  It may take a little mountain climbing, but be assured He will be there to speak to you just as He spoke to Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John.  So go to God even if it is hard to go to Him, or especially when it is hard to go Him.

Find out what He has to say to you.  Avail yourselves of the Holy Scriptures.  Go to the Bible regularly and often.   When you go to the Bible, you are going to the very Word of God.  Approach it with the faithful attitude that it indeed does have something to say to you and you need to know what that is.  Go to Holy Scripture in faith and obedience.  The Lenten program Father Warren has prescribed for our whole parish is an excellent way to do just that.  It is “A Lenten Journey for The Church of The Advent”.  Daily take on the reading of Scripture.  Practice disciplines of self-control.  Learn more about how God is alive and active in your life to lead you to holiness.

The Transfiguration means that like Peter, James and John, we need to follow Jesus in faith and obedience just like we go to the Bible.  Go with the Word of God incarnate in Holy Communion, just as you go to the Word of God written in the Bible.  Remain faithful to him because he is all law, all prophecy, all Truth.  Stay with Him through very sad times in your life as well as the happy times.  Stay faithful to Him through the difficult times as well as the easy times.  The whole point is to find the Truth and the only place to find that is to climb up the mountain all through this life knowing that the reason for the climb is Jesus and once you get to the top you will see him just as Peter, James and John saw Him.  He was in his glorious majesty on the Mount of the Transfiguration.  He is glorious with us now in our hearts and souls to lead us through this earthly life, and we will see Him in all His glorious majesty in heaven. 

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

Collect for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany

O God, who before the passion of thy only-begotten Son didst reveal his glory upon the holy mount: Grant unto us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This Week’s Announcements, February 11-17, 2018

TODAY!


The flowers at the High Altar are given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Dr. Frederick L. Haupert. 


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


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


Childcare is provided for infants and toddlers during both the 9 am and 11:15 am Masses. 

9:00 am—Infant nursery is located on the first floor in the room beyond the Parish Office.  The Toddler nursery is located downstairs in Moseley Hall.

11:15 am—Infants and Toddlers are cared for on the first floor in the room beyond the office.

If you have questions or special needs we want to hear them.  Contact Meg Nelson 856-217-0847 or megwnelson@gmail.com.


9:00 Coffee Hour. Tony Pulsone & Darcy Montaldi and Nola Sheffer host this morning’s Coffee Hour.  Next week the hosts will be Bette Boughton and Jonnet Holladay. New coffee hour hosts are always needed; please contact Barbara Boles by email bbolesster@gmail.com. or telephone (617-501-7572) if you’re interested or have questions about what is entailed. 

11:15 Coffee Hour.  Anna de Bakker & James Williamson, John Ross Campbell, Steven Sayers and Roxie Hanson host this morning’s Coffee Hour.  We are in need of more volunteers to do the coffee hour.  To view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com) or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com).  


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


Burying the Alleluias:  Today being the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, the Easter Dismissal “Depart in peace.  Alleluia! Alleluia!” is used to conclude the Mass.  We will not hear the word “Alleluia” again until the Resurrection is proclaimed on Holy Saturday.  As a dramatization of this liturgical practice, members of the Church School will bury the Alleluias following the 9 am Mass this morning.  Placards decorated with the joyful word will be taken in procession with wailing and moaning and clanging from the Sacristy to the All Souls’ Chapel where they will remain “buried” until Easter.  This is a very old custom.  Here is a description from the fifteenth century:

All the choir boys gather in the Sacristy during the prayer of the Ninth Hour.  At the end of the Service, they march in procession with crosses, tapers, holy water, and censers.  They carry a coffin, as in a funeral.  Thus they proceed through the aisle, moaning, and mourning, until they reach the Cloister.  There they bury the coffin; they sprinkle it with holy water and incense it; whereupon they return to the Sacristy by the same way. 


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 14 this year.


Proclaiming the Moveable Feasts.  Moveable feasts are those which are tied to the date of Easter, and since that date changes from year to year, these feast days are said to “move” through the calendar.

This morning, following the sermon at the 9 am and 11:15 Masses, we will hear the chanted proclamation or “Setting” of the Moveable Fasts & Feasts for this year.  This seemingly quirky practice comes to us from very early in Christian history, when the Church Calendar was not the fixed and predictable scheme it is now.  Customs varied from place to place on the dates of feasts and the length, or even the existence, of a Lenten, pre-Paschal fast.  In the third century, the Patriarchs of Alexandria began sending their clergy “festal letters” stating the dates of the great feasts and fasts for the upcoming year; these dates were to be announced to the faithful on either the Feast of the Epiphany or on a convenient Sunday before the start of the fast.  The practice—and with it, eventually, regulation of the liturgical calendar—spread throughout Christendom, acquired ceremonial and a chant, and, like many things in the liturgy, has long outlasted its original necessity.  It is retained here at the Advent as  an interesting historical remnant and a bit of fun before Lent.   It will replace the Creed at the 9 am Sung Mass. 


Today is the Sunday known as Quinquagesima, which, with its companion Sundays, Septuagesima and Sexagesima, make up the season formerly known as pre-Lent.  In the current Prayer Book these Sundays were dropped and became just additional Sundays after the Epiphany.  The logic for this was simple:  since Lent is itself a season of preparation, to observe an additional time of preparation before Lent was unnecessary.  Why prepare to prepare?

This may look good on paper, but it’s not quite true psychologically or spiritually, because, in fact, we often need to prepare to prepare.  In this instance that is especially the case.  You and I  need to begin now thinking about what we will do during Lent.  How will we use the season to our souls’ benefit?  How will we exercise ourselves so that we grow spiritually during Lent?  Let Septuagesima—and Sexagesima and Quinquagesima—be a warning that that holy and intentional season is coming up, and it’s time to give it some thought.  Prepare to prepare!

A note on names.  Septuagesima:  in context the word means seventy days before Easter.  There is a problem here, however, for it’s not seventy days before Easter.  It’s sixty-four.  And yet, exactitude in this would have us saying sexagesima quarta and quinquagsima septimus, rather than septuagesima and sexagesima.  And so in her wisdom and in order to avoid the long and cumbersome tags, the Church decided to number by tens rather than sevens.  Who cares if it’s accurate?  It’s easier to say.


Entr’acte—Beginning this morning, and continuing for the next two Sundays, parishioner Rick Stone will present a study of the Sermon on the Mount.  Describing what he intends to do, he says, “The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’s most important and many would say most challenging ethical instruction.  We will spend three sessions delving into its thematic structure, its historical context, and its modern day significance with the aim of making the Sermon an inspiring, rather than daunting, guide.”

Entr’acte will meet, as usual, following the 9 am Sung Mass (at about 10:25 am) in the Library.  


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


THIS WEEK!


Tomorrow! Monday, February 12!  Lundi Gras—Monday, February 12, 6 pm.  Mardi Gras is the traditional day of overindulgence and merriment before the fast of Lent.  But, because of the Advent’s Community Supper, we must move the occasion one day back.  So, Mardi (Tuesday) becomes Lundi (Monday).  We’d love to have wide participation from all three services: families, young ones, old ones, and individuals.  This will be a marvelous opportunity to spend a relaxed time getting to know Fr James and Betsy.

Dinner is potluck:  Break out your favorite deviled eggs recipe, best hot dish, or store-bought loaf of sourdough!  Please bring something to share: food or drink, or both.  Need more information?  Contact Fr Warren (rector@theadventboston.org). 


Wednesday, February 14—Ash Wednesday

Said Masses at 7:30 am, 12:15 pm and Solemn Mass at 6:30 pm.  Imposition of Ashes at all Masses.  The Solemn Mass in the evening will include Allegri’s Miserere in addition to music of William Byrd.  Make a commitment to begin your Lenten discipline at a mass on Ash Wednesday.


Lent begins this Wednesday!   Traditionally, Lent—the 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter—was a period of preparation for those about to be baptized, and over time it became a period of penitence, self-examination and special devotion by all Christians as they prepared to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus.  Lent was more than just an individual discipline, however.  It was something in which the whole community would engage together.  This year we at the Advent will again recapture the corporate nature of Lenten practice, and we call on every member of the Parish to consider joining others in the following common discipline.  Each week, those who wish will fast together from a particular pleasure, whether it’s sweets, coffee, entertainment, technology, etc., and we will all read the same scriptural passages and meditate upon the same theme each day.

A common devotional Guide, A Lenten Journey for the Church of the Adventis available at the rear of the nave and online, and it lists the suggested fast for each week along with daily scripture readings which begin with the Creation and follow the history of Salvation up to its fulfillment in the New Creation of all things in the Resurrection of Jesus.  The Guide contains a pledge expressing your intention to take upon yourself this corporate discipline with others in the Parish.  It can be included with the collection at the Masses today during which your intention will be offered and blessed at the Offertory of the Liturgy.

Engaging in communal fasts and corporate devotional practices will deepen our sense of community, as well as provide support and accountability for each of us in this rich liturgical season.  If you have questions, please get in touch with one of the clergy who will be happy to discuss it with you. 

Please note that this corporate discipline does not replace the public devotions which will be prayed here during Lent. Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament are prayed on Thursdays at 6:00 pm, beginning Thursday, February 22.  


The Beacon Hill Group meets every two weeks at 7 pm on alternate Thursdays. Its next meeting is at the home of David and Sally Fisher, 33 Branch Street, Boston, on Thursday, February 15. We are currently reading Acts. If you wish to attend please email: davidabbottfisher@comcast.net.


This Friday, February 16, at 11:30 am.  The Holy Rosary will be offered publicly in The Lady Chapel.


COMING UP!


The Devil, The Lamb, and the Throne:  The Book of Revelation Bible Study— Beginning on Wednesday, February 21, Pastoral Assistant Eric Fialho will lead a five-week study on the Book of Revelation.  The study will cover the many beguiling and mysterious themes, symbols, and images presented in the last book of the Bible.  Close attention will be paid to the Book’s historical context, its eschatological themes, and its main theme of good versus evil.  The study will meet every Wednesday from February 21 through March 21 at 7:00 pm. in the Library.  Those wishing to attend are encouraged to read Revelation chapters 1-4 before the first week. 


Parish Work Day — Saturday, February 24 — 10 am to 2 pm — Help get the Advent sparkling clean with fellow parishioners. People of all ages and abilities welcome. Contact Brian Sirman (bsirman@bu.edu) or Deacon Daphne (deaconnoyes@theadventboston.org) to sign up.


Lenten Quiet Day—Saturday, March 10—10 am to 2 pm—Explore the spiritual practices of chant and praying with icons during this Lenten quiet day. We will learn simple chants that, by their repetition, help us find a deeper connection to God.  We will also learn about icons, their use through millennia, and how we can pray with them today as we seek to find the divine in our lives.  Meditations will be interspersed with periods of quiet, allowing to refresh and renew our souls.  The day will be led by the Rev’d Miriam Gelfer, associate rector at Parish of the Epiphany, Winchester, and Ms. Mary Street, iconographer and parishioner in Winchester.  The quiet day will be based in Moseley Hall, from 10 am to 2 pm.  Cost is $10, including lunch.  Early registration is advised; contact Deacon Daphne deaconnoyes@theadventboston.com


MISSION & OUTREACH CORNER


Volunteers Needed for Common Cathedral on March 4—Advent will again be participating in Common Cathedral on Boston Common on March 4.  This time the Advent Youth Group will be helping pack and serve meals and fellowship with the outdoor congregation.  Several more volunteers are needed to help assist in making sandwiches and with serving food.  On March 3 a few hands are needed to help make sandwiches, and on March 4 several volunteers are needed from about 11:00 am – 2:30 pm.  To help please contact Ali White at alinebwhite@gmail.com.


Family Meals – Coordinator Sought – No Heavy Lifting! We’re looking for someone to coordinate providing a few meals to new parents, such as Montgomery and Kelly Link, who welcomed Noah last month. All that’s required is to identify some people willing to prepare a meal in advance – it can be frozen, or freezable – and either deliver to the family, or leave at the Advent for pickup. If you’re making soup or a casserole, why not double the recipe and share? If this is something you could consider taking on, please speak with Deacon Daphne.


ODDS & ENDS


The Advent Bookstore has just received copies of our own Katelyn Emerson’s new CD recorded here at the Advent.  They are available for sale.


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


The Advent Choir on SoundCloud.  MP3 recordings of the Advent Choir are available on the Advent website’s Soundcloud player.  On the home page, scroll to the bottom of the page, where you will find the player.  https://www.theadventboston.org.

Or, go directly to https://soundcloud.com/mark-dwyer-2/tracks.  Over 2 hours of music and 120 titles are available at this writing. 

The most recent selections appear immediately on the Advent’s homepage; if one goes to the choir’s Soundcloud page, specific playlists are available of Renaissance choral music, Romantic and Contemporary music, or seasonal choral music.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
February 12 – 18, 2018

Monday, February 12
8:30 am: Advent School Share Event
6:00 pm: Lundi Gras

Tuesday, February 13
Absalom Jones
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, February 14
Ash Wednesday
7:30 am: Low Mass with Imposition of Ashes
10:00 am: Bible Study
12:15 pm: Low Mass with Imposition of Ashes
6:30 pm: Solemn Mass with Imposition of Ashes

Thursday, February 15
(Thomas Bray)

Friday, February 16

Saturday, February 17
(Janani Luwum)
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Sunday, February 18
The First Sunday in Lent
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass with the Litany in Procession
10:15 am: Church School / Entr’acte
11:15 am: Solemn Mass with the Litany in Procession
4:30 pm: Organ Recital
5:00 pm: Solemn Evensong & Benediction; Lecture

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Dr Jeffrey A. Hanson at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, February 4, 2018, the Solemnity of the Feast of the Presentation

I realize this is not going to sound very priestly of me, but one of my favorite films of all time is Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction; I saw the first show on opening day in 1994 and I don’t know how many times after that; it was a hugely important pop cultural moment in my youth. It is not recommended for all audiences—it’s full of violence and profanity.

But one reason I like Pulp Fiction is that it perfectly captures something important about what we mean by an epiphany. It still is Epiphany season, but what does that mean? What is an epiphany anyway?

An epiphany is a revelation of God’s work in the world—it’s the shock of recognition that attends divine intervention. And the season of epiphany is about the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles, the shocking recognition that this man is the Messiah of Israel but not just the Messiah of Israel but also the king of the universe and the savior of the entire world.

Incredibly, Pulp Fiction features a smaller-scale but nevertheless very obvious epiphany. The Pulp Fiction epiphany happens to two characters in the film: Jules (played by Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (played by John Travolta). Jules and Vincent are violent depraved hit men, and on orders from their mob boss they execute three small-time criminals that have ripped off their employer. But Jules and Vincent have been careless—unbeknownst to them there is a fourth criminal hiding in the bathroom, and he bursts out, firing a hall of bullets from a .357 Magnum at point-blank range. To no effect. Defying all logic, Jules and Vincent are totally unharmed by the barrage. The baffled criminal has just long enough to register total incomprehension before Jules and Vincent nonchalantly execute him too, their fourth and final victim. But their reactions to what has happened could not be more different.

Jules immediately insists that what has just taken place is a miracle, but Vincent shrugs it off as just lucky. Jules says no, it wasn’t luck, it was “divine intervention. You know what divine intervention is?” “Yeah, I think so,” says Vincent, rather cynically, “That means God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets.” Jules is sure, “Yeah, man, that’s what it means. That’s exactly what it means! God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets.” But Vincent won’t believe it; he is sure it’s just something that sometimes happens, a lucky break, not a miracle but a big whatever. And indeed nothing about the film so far has even hinted at the presence of God or any openness to the miraculous. Everything about Pulp Fiction suggests a gritty fallen world, so maybe it’s not surprising that Vincent does not believe. But Jules does believe, and because he believes he is transformed, and he forsakes his life of violence.

This is actually an important point about any epiphany. To one person, with the readiness to see, with the eyes of faith, an epiphany is a miraculous and life-changing divine intervention. But to someone else it might look like nothing at all, just an ordinary, everyday happening. Without the eyes of faith, an epiphany will look like a big whatever. An epiphany then isn’t just about revelation. Epiphany is also about division.

Consider today’s reading from Luke’s gospel. The celebration of our Lord’s presentation at the temple is a perfect epiphany passage, because Christ’s revelation to the Gentiles is spelled out plainly by Simeon: Jesus Christ, even as a one-month-old baby, is the glory of Israel and the light for revelation to the Gentiles. Jesus Christ is now proclaimed by Simeon to be the salvation that is meant for “all peoples.”

The presentation though also features not just revelation but division. Because everything about this situation is outwardly ordinary. Mary and Joseph are fulfilling the demands of the law, observing the prescribed ritual sacrifices. Such a thing would have happened every day. That they offer two doves indicates that they don’t have the money for a lamb, so they are poor, ordinary folk. Nothing about the circumstances suggests anything miraculous in the offing.

But here in this mundane setting Jesus’s parents meet two remarkable witnesses to who their infant son is: the saintly Simeon and the prophetess Anna. They are devout people who have something in common. They are waiting and actively looking out for the salvation of Israel. Simeon we are told is “looking for the consolation of Israel,” and Anna is an evangelist to all those who, like herself presumably, were “looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

So Simeon and Anna are lookers. They are seers. They are on the lookout so they see the epiphany for what it is. It is none other than the Holy Spirit has led Simeon in to the temple, and Anna too has come “at that very hour” to see here and now God’s revelation of God’s own self in the divine intervention that is the infant Jesus. Because after all this time, after the decades of prayer and self-discipline, for these two elderly holy people, the wait is over. It has been 400 years since Malachi the prophet spoke the words that we read today. Yet Anna is a prophet too, and to her it is given to witness the fulfillment of what Malachi said in his day so long before as we heard today in chapter 3, verse 1: “the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.” Anna and Simeon have been seeking the Lord for a long time. And now suddenly he has come to his temple. Here he is. It’s him. The one who has been promised. It’s an epiphany. And they can see it for what it is because they have been faithfully preparing themselves for this moment.

Even when the wait is long and lonely, God gifts us from time to time with just such an epiphany, as long as we are prepared to see it. Simeon has been graced to know that he will live to see the Christ, but now he is an old man. It has been a long time, long enough to lose heart, but still he is faithful and alert, and when the promise is fulfilled he is ready for it. It’s unfortunate perhaps that our translation puts the word “Lord” first in Simeon’s justly famous hymn of praise, which as you know is an unchanging feature of the rite of evening prayer. The first word in Greek is “Now,” as in—“Now Lord lettest thou thy servant depart”—and that is fitting, for now is the lead ideas here, now is the moment that Simeon has been waiting for and for which he is fully prepared. The implication in the Greek term for “depart” is not just to leave but indeed to die, because Simeon is now ready to die in peace, for the one thing in the world worth seeing—Christ’s divine intervention into the world—the one thing in the world worth seeing he has at last seen. Or think of Anna. Her marriage was all too brief, certainly not what she expected from her life. But her many years of widowhood have been spent in worship and spiritual discipline. She too is prepared to give thanks to God and to testify to all the others like her to what she has now at last, at last seen.

I said though that epiphany brings division along with revelation. That this epiphany brings totally divergent reactions is something Simeon himself foretells to Joseph and Mary. This child, your child, he says will provoke wildly different responses. Some will fall, and some will rise. Some will leap for joy at the recognition of who he is; some will be scandalized and recoil from him. Some will fall to the ground in reverence and love and wash his feet with their very tears; some will jeer in hatred and spit in his face.

Some will call him a miracle and some will shrug it off.

And all this Simeon says will wound you too, Mary. What about this terrifying private aside to Our Lord’s blessed mother? What could it mean that a sword will pierce her own soul also? Could it mean that she too will be tempted (as any of us would be) with the thought that it was nothing after all? The angel, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, what if it wasn’t a miracle but just happenstance? Don’t forget that Mary sees her son die alone on the cross.

In that moment, at what looks like the end of the story, could you still believe in the epiphany here at the beginning of the story, or would you be tempted to say it was nothing after all?

This temptation to despair, to fail to see, is built into every epiphany. It is always possible that the miracle will go unnoticed or ignored. An unbelieving witness to the presentation would say that all he sees is an ordinary baby in the arms of his impoverished parents and a pair of delusional old people.

It is the virtue of great artists like Tarantino that they leave the epiphany open to the viewer to decide. Did God really come down from heaven to stop the bullets that should have killed Jules and Vincent? Jules decides “yes,” it’s a miracle, and his life is changed, while Vincent decides “no,” it’s nothing special, and ultimately he is doomed for his lack of vision. We have to decide too, whether as viewers of the film or readers of Luke’s Gospel. No one can be forced to believe in an epiphany; we must either affirm it as a revelation of God or write it off as nothing at all. And these are really the only two choices. The presentation of our Lord in the temple really is an epiphany, and if that’s true then this is not an ordinary baby but the greatest case of divine intervention the world has ever seen. But to see it for ourselves, we will need to be like Simeon and like Anna, ready, waiting, and looking. Amen.

This Week’s Announcements, February 4-10, 2018

TODAY!


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

The flowers at the Crossing are given to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Polly Warren.


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


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


Childcare is provided for infants and toddlers during both the 9 am and 11:15 am Masses. 

9:00 am—Infant nursery is located on the first floor in the room beyond the Parish Office.  The Toddler nursery is located downstairs in Moseley Hall.

11:15 am—Infants and Toddlers are cared for on the first floor in the room beyond the office.

If you have questions or special needs we want to hear them.  Contact Meg Nelson 856-217-0847 or megwnelson@gmail.com.


9:00 Coffee Hour. Cassie & Jack Gurnon and John Boyd host this morning’s Coffee Hour.  Next week the hosts will be Tony Pulsone & Darcy Montaldi and Nola Sheffer.  New coffee hour hosts are always needed; please contact Barbara Boles by email bbolesster@gmail.com. or telephone (617-501-7572) if you’re interested or have questions about what is entailed. 

11:15 Coffee Hour.  Philip & Anh Sawyer, David Fisher and Ellie Dixon host this morning’s Coffee Hour.  Next week the hosts will be Anna de Bakker, John Ross Campbell, Steven Sayers and Roxie Hanson.  We are in need of more volunteers to do the coffee hour.  To view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com) or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com).  


Today’s Feast:  The Feast which we celebrate this morning goes by three names:  The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, and Candlemas.  The first two refer to events recounted in today’s Gospel reading.  The last refers to a ceremony, peculiar to the day, which has been part of the practice of the Church since the seventh century.  At the Masses this morning candles will be blessed and then carried in procession to commemorate the entry of Christ, the Light of the World, into the Temple at Jerusalem.  Jesus came, as the prophet Simeon said, in the words of the Nunc Dimittis which the choir will sing during the lighting of the candles, “to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of thy people Israel.” 


This afternoon!  at 4:00 pm—The Presentation of Our Lord (Candlemas)—Choral Evensong at All Saints Church, Ashmont.  Parishioners of the Advent are invited most cordially to attend.  The Choir of Men and Boys of All Saints will be joined by the Choir of All Saints, Worcester. 


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 14 this year.


Election Results.  At last Sunday’s Annual Meeting the following persons were elected to serve on the Parish Vestry:  Amanda Daley, Maria Denslow, Brent Nelson and Paul Roberts were elected to three-year terms.

Frederic Ou was elected to a one-year term as Clerk of the Vestry.  Adam Rutledge was elected to a one-year term as Treasurer

Betsy Madsen and Julianne Turé were elected Delegates to Diocesan Convention and the Deanery; Robb Scholten was elected Alternate Delegate. 

Congratulations to the above persons and our gratitude, as well, for their willingness to serve the Parish.


Today is the Sunday known as Sexagesima, which, with its companion Sundays, Septuagesima and Quinquagesima, make up the season formerly known as pre-Lent.  In the current Prayer Book these Sundays were dropped and became just additional Sundays after the Epiphany.  The logic for this was simple:  since Lent is itself a season of preparation, to observe an additional time of preparation before Lent was unnecessary.  Why prepare to prepare?

This may look good on paper, but it’s not quite true psychologically or spiritually, because, in fact, we often need to prepare to prepare.  In this instance that is especially the case.  You and I  need to begin now thinking about what we will do during Lent.  How will we use the season to our souls’ benefit?  How will we exercise ourselves so that we grow spiritually during Lent?  Let Septuagesima—and Sexagesima and Quinquagesima—be a warning that that holy and intentional season is coming up, and it’s time to give it some thought.  Prepare to prepare!

A note on names.  Septuagesima:  in context the word means seventy days before Easter.  There is a problem here, however, for it’s not seventy days before Easter.  It’s sixty-four.  And yet, exactitude in this would have us saying sexagesima quarta and quinquagsima septimus, rather than septuagesima and sexagesima.  And so in her wisdom and in order to avoid the long and cumbersome tags, the Church decided to number by tens rather than sevens.  Who cares if it’s accurate?  It’s easier to say.


A Lenten Journey for the Church of the Advent 2018, a common discipline for members of the Advent, has just been prepared by Father Warren.  Copies, together with the pledge, will be available next Sunday.


THIS WEEK!


Calling all Advent 20- and 30- Somethings!!!  We are resurrecting the old conclave of younger Adventers.  Come next Wednesday, February 7, to the 6 pm Mass and stay afterwards for drinks and pizza in the Library beginning at about 6:45 pm.  We’ll talk about what we can do together and have a lovely chance to get to know Frs Hanson and James.  For more information, contact Kyriell Palaeologue at 617-396-6225 (k.oldword@gmail.com


The Beacon Hill Group meets every two weeks at 7 pm on alternate Thursdays. Its next meeting is at the home of David and Sally Fisher, 33 Branch Street, Boston, on Thursday, February 15. We are currently reading Acts. If you wish to attend please email: davidabbottfisher@comcast.net.


COMING UP!


Entr’acte — Beginning on Sunday, February 11, and continuing on the 18th and 25th, parishioner Rick Stone will present a study of the Sermon on the Mount. Describing what he intends to do, he says, “The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ most important and many would say most challenging ethical instruction. We will spend three sessions delving into its thematic structure, its historical context, and its modern day significance with the aim of making the Sermon an inspiring, rather than daunting, guide.”

Entr’acte will meet, as usual, following the 9 am Sung Mass (at about 10:25 am) in the Library.  


Compline at the Advent—Next Sunday, February 11, at 8 pm—Next Sunday, February 11, at 8:00 pm, join us for the ancient liturgy of Compline, preceded by Lucernarium, an evening service of lamp-lighting.  We pray Compline on the second Sunday of every month at 8:00 pm in the nave.  There is particular need for parishioners familiar with liturgical practice at the Advent to participate, so if you are interested in helping celebrate this service of prayer before bedtime in the custom of early Christian monasticism, please contact Fr Hanson (frhanson@theadventboston.org). 


Monday, February 12!  Lundi Gras—Monday, February 12, 6 pm.  Mardi Gras is the traditional day of overindulgence and merriment before the fast of Lent.  But, because of the Advent’s Community Supper, we must move the occasion one day back.  So, Mardi (Tuesday) becomes Lundi (Monday).  We’d love to have wide participation from all three services: families, young ones, old ones, and individuals.  This will be a marvelous opportunity to spend a relaxed time getting to know Fr James and Betsy.

Dinner is potluck:  Break out your favorite deviled eggs recipe, best hot dish, or store-bought loaf of sourdough!  Please bring something to share: food or drink, or both.  Need more information?  Contact Fr Warren (rector@theadventboston.org). 


Parish Work Day — Saturday, February 24 — 10 am to 2 pm — Help get the Advent sparkling clean with fellow parishioners. People of all ages and abilities welcome. Contact Brian Sirman (bsirman@bu.edu) or Deacon Daphne (deaconnoyes@theadventboston.org) to sign up.


Lenten Quiet Day — Saturday, March 10 — Save the date! Take a breather this Lent on Saturday, March 10, with a Quiet Day at the Advent. Mark your calendars, and stay tuned for details. Contact Deacon Daphne to save a spot.


MISSION & OUTREACH CORNER


The Boston Harbor Deanery will once again hold a Rise Against Hunger even hosted by the Church of the Advent. It will take place downstairs in Moseley Hall this Saturday, February 10, from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. 

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

Last year, 10,000 meals were assembled here in the space of two hours! It was amazing to watch. 

Between 6 and 7 volunteers will be needed from the Advent to participate in the event, which will be run by a team from Rise Against Hunger. Those who have done this before know well that it is quite a lot of fun. There will be music and perhaps even dancing! Please volunteer to help package meals and be able to arrive 15 minutes prior to the event, which, again, begins at 10 a.m. To volunteer for this fun and satisfying morning, please contact Father Warren. 


Family Meals – Coordinator Sought – No Heavy Lifting! We’re looking for someone to coordinate providing a few meals to new parents, such as Montgomery and Kelly Link, who welcomed Noah last month. All that’s required is to identify some people willing to prepare a meal in advance – it can be frozen, or freezable – and either deliver to the family, or leave at the Advent for pickup. If you’re making soup or a casserole, why not double the recipe and share? If this is something you could consider taking on, please speak with Deacon Daphne.


STEWARDSHIP 2018


There are still a few boxes of pledge envelopes waiting to be picked up at the back of the Church. If you requested envelopes and they are not there, please call the Parish Office (617-523-2377 x122) and they will be forthcoming.


ODDS & ENDS


Piano Recital—Monday, February 5, at 6:30 pm.  Kyriell Palaeologue invites Advent parishioners to a 45-minute piano recital in the Choir Room tomorrow evening at 6:30 pm.  Admission is free and an informal reception follows. 


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


The Advent Choir on SoundCloud.  MP3 recordings of the Advent Choir are available on the Advent website’s Soundcloud player.  On the home page, scroll to the bottom of the page, where you will find the player.  https://www.theadventboston.org.

Or, go directly to https://soundcloud.com/mark-dwyer-2/tracks.  Over 2 hours of music and 120 titles are available at this writing. 

The most recent selections appear immediately on the Advent’s homepage; if one goes to the choir’s Soundcloud page, specific playlists are available of Renaissance choral music, Romantic and Contemporary music, or seasonal choral music.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
February 5 – 11, 2018

Monday, February 5
The Martyrs of Japan
6:30 pm: Piano Recital

Tuesday, February 6
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, February 7
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Advent 20- & 30-Somethings Conclave
7:30 pm: Bellringing

Thursday, February 8
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, February 9

Saturday, February 10
Scholastica
10:00 am: Rise Against Hunger event
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Sunday, February 11
The Last Sunday after the Epiphany
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
10:0 am: Church School
11:15 am: Solemn Mass / Entr’acte
8:00 pm: Compline