Collect for Trinity Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of thy Divine Majesty to worship the Unity: We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see thee in thy one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This Week at the Advent, June 16-22, 2019

Welcome to the Church of the Advent! If you are new to the area, visiting, or seeking a church home, we are glad you’re here and hope to have a chance to greet you in person. Please join us downstairs following the service for a coffee hour.

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

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


The flowers at the high altar are given in praise of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity, and in loving memory of Vance Hosford.


We give praise and thanksgiving for the Baptism of Katherine Cherie Haynes. Katherine received the Sacrament of Baptism on June 5 and was made a child of God, a member of Christ’s Body, the Church, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of God.

We offer prayers of thanksgiving for those members of our parish who received the Sacrament of Confirmation or were received into this Communion yesterday morning at our Cathedral Church of Saint Paul. Those being confirmed were: Melissa Baldwin, Quin Cousineau, Christopher Doty, Maggie Eggert, Katherine Haynes, Carolina Stafford-Jones, Kat Meyers, Penelope Montaldi-Pulsone, Matthew Murphy, Nick Westberg, and Emily Zadig. Those being received were: Mark Aparece, Daniel Orsen, Brian Sirman, and Ellen Swendrowski-Evett.

“Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named, grant you to be strengthened with might by His Holy Spirit, that, Christ dwelling in your hearts by faith, you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Amen.”

Confirmands


9:00 Coffee Hour: Cassie & Jack Gurnon and Betsy Ridge Madsen host today. Next Sunday, Ray Porter joins Mary & Paul Roberts to host. If you would like to sign up to host coffee hour, please contact Barbara Boles by phone, 617-501-7572, or email bbolesster@gmail.com if you’re interested or have questions.

11:15 Coffee Hour: Today’s hosts are the Advent Choir. We are always in need of more volunteers. To view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com), Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com).


Monthly Sunday Evensong and Benediction is on break until October. See below for info about a special Evensong opportunity on July 1.


THIS WEEK


The Corpus Christi Mass, with Procession-Around-the-Neighborhood and Benediction, is this Thursday, June 20. The music is by Monteverdi, Mawby and Isaac, and a brass quartet will play for the procession. Fr. Welch will preach. We hope to see you here!


COMING UP


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


On Monday, July 1, at 6 pm, the full Advent Choir will sing Evensong with a Solemn Procession in observance of the Feast of SS Peter and Paul. The Rt Rev’d Alan Gates, our Bishop, will preach. The choir will offer the Second Service of Kenneth Leighton, with Palestrina’s Tu es Petrus, and Quodcunque ligaveris by Byrd. Organ music will be by Franck and Dupré. This is a special observance for the national conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians. Those who attended the Evensong which we offered in the summer of 2014 for the American Guild of Organists’ national convention will remember the raise-the-roof hymn-singing; and this Evensong, jam-packed with musicians, promises to be equally thrilling. So do attend if you are able as you will truly hear Bishop Gates “preach to the choir” at this festal gathering of church musicians.


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

This educational conference for high school and college students is a week-long conference held in West Hartford, Connecticut from July 28 to August 3 this summer. We encourage every high school and college-aged student between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one to register and attend. Registration forms are available in the church or on the Conference’s website at www.saintmichaelsconference.com. Please see Father James, Betsy James, Rob Braman, Mark Dwyer, Gabriel Ellsworth, Sam James, or Harriet Lewis-Bowen if you are interested in attending. The registration deadline is July 1.


ODDS & ENDS


The Parish Profile is now available. To read it, please visit the website and click on the “Rector Search” tab at the top of the main page.


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


A Note about the Parish Directory. Contact information for members and friends of the Advent is constantly changing, so copies of the latest version are available on request. If you would like one, just send a message to office@theadventboston.org and specify if you would like pick up a printed copy or prefer to have an electronic (pdf) version emailed to you.


FROM THE ADVENT ARCHIVES


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

The term Anglo-Catholic, commonly used to describe the Church of the Advent and popularly used to denote the “smells and bells” style of worship, is said to have come into use circa 1830-1840. However, in the Advent’s earliest histories, the phrase is not used. The Reverend William Harman van Allen (rector, 1902-1929) regularly and emphatically identified the church as American Catholic. The description below, or a variation of it, appeared frequently in various printed materials.

“May I say something to our friends, especially among the students, who are just commencing to know the Advent, about our ideals? This church is free; i.e., it is the House of God, open freely to all God’s children, not parcelled out into rented or owned pews set apart for persons specially favored. (This does not mean, of course, that worshippers are denied the opportunity of paying their debt to God through regular offerings at all services and in the poor-boxes. It is Catholic: it derives its Priesthood, the Sacraments they minister and the doctrines they preach, from the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which our Lord founded upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. But is it also American, and is subject to the American Episcopate, acknowledging no alien authority whatever in things spiritual. Its worship is according to Catholic tradition as received through the Church of England. No law of the Prayer-book is violated, and all laws of the Prayer-book are observed here. If you see anything unfamiliar, come to the clergy, who will gladly explain it to you.”


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
June 17-23, 2019

Monday, June 17

Tuesday, June 18
Bernard Mizeki
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, June 19
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bellringers

Thursday, June 20
Corpus Christi
5:15 pm: Property Committee
6:30 pm: Solemn Mass & Procession & Benediction

Friday, June 21
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, June 22
Alban

Sunday, June 23
The Second Sunday after Pentecost
Parish Picnic after the 9 & 11:15 Masses
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
11:15 am: Solemn Mass

Collect for Pentecost (Whitsunday)

Almighty God, who on this day didst open the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of thy Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This Week at the Advent, June 9-15, 2019

Welcome to the Church of the Advent! If you are new to the area, visiting, or seeking a church home, we are glad you’re here and hope to have a chance to greet you in person. Please join us downstairs following the service for a coffee hour.

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

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


The flowers at the high altar are given to the glory of God and in honour of the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, and in loving memory of Michael Dawson.

The flowers in the crossing are given to the glory of God and in thanksgiving for the 53rd wedding anniversary of Leonard and Suzann Buckle and the renewal of their vows.


We give praise and thanksgiving this morning for the Baptism of Elisabeth Lucille Rutledge. Lucy is the daughter of Adam and Lea Rutledge.  “We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim His resurrection, and share with us in His eternal priesthood.”


9:00 Coffee Hour: Will Joyner & Linda Jones join Megan & Mike Zadig to host this morning. Next Sunday Betsy Ridge Madsen joins Cassie & Jack Gurnon in hosting.  If you would like to sign up to host coffee hour, please contact Barbara Boles by phone, 617-501-7572, or email bbolesster@gmail.com if you’re interested or have questions.

11:15 Coffee Hour: Today’s hosts are the Advent Choir, Maria Denslow, Gabriel Ellsworth, and Ginny McMackin. We are always in need of more volunteers. To view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com), Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com).


Join us this evening at 8pm for COMPLINE at the Advent.


THIS WEEK


ADULT CONFIRMATION CLASSES concludes this Wednesday in Moseley Hall with a light supper following the 6:00 pm Healing Mass. This week’s topic is “A Rule of Life.” Confirmations take place this Saturday, June 15, at 10:30 am at the Cathedral of St. Paul.


This Thursday, June 13 at 2:00 pm in Moseley Hall, In Stile Moderno (Agnes Coakley Cox, soprano; Nathaniel Cox, cornetto and theorbo; and Ben Katz, harpsichord) presents “Un Concerto per Barberini,” as part of the Boston Early Music Festival Fringe. The concert will feature works by Girolamo Frescobaldi and Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger, two virtuoso performers and composers who in the 1620s were in the employ of Cardinal Francesco Barberini in Rome. In addition to solo music for harpsichord and theorbo, this program features instrumental canzone, sacred motets, and secular monody. Admission is by suggested donation of $10 reduced / $20 regular. We hope to see you there!


COMING UP


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


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


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

This educational conference for high school and college students is a week-long conference held in West Hartford, Connecticut from July 28 to August 3 this summer. We encourage every high school and college-aged student between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one to register and attend. Registration forms are available in the church or on the Conference’s website at www.saintmichaelsconference.com. Please see Father James, Betsy James, Rob Braman, Mark Dwyer, Gabriel Ellsworth, Sam James, or Harriet Lewis-Bowen if you are interested in attending. The registration deadline is July 1.


On Monday, July 1, at 6 pm, the full Advent Choir will sing Evensong with a Solemn Procession in observance of the Feast of SS Peter and Paul. The Rt Rev’d Alan Gates, our Bishop, will preach. The choir will offer the Second Service of Kenneth Leighton, with Palestrina’s Tu es Petrus, and Quodcunque ligaveris by Byrd. Organ music will be by Franck and Dupré. This is a special observance for the national conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians. Those who attended the Evensong which we offered in the summer of 2014 for the American Guild of Organists’ national convention will remember the raise-the-roof hymn-singing; and this Evensong, jam-packed with musicians, promises to be equally thrilling. So do attend if you are able, as you will truly hear Bishop Gates “preach to the choir” at this festal gathering of church musicians.


ODDS & ENDS


The Parish Profile is now available. To read it, please visit the website and click on the “Rector Search” tab at the top of the main page.


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


From the Advent Archives —

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

The church on Bowdoin Street was home to the Church of the Advent from 1863 to 1883.

The Parish Profile published on June 4, 2019, describes the length of parishioners’ commutes — ranging from 20 minutes to 90 minutes or more. While we cannot provide the amount of time parishioners spent getting to church in the late nineteenth century, it is clear from the available data that the Church of the Advent has long attracted people from near and far, as shown by their places of residence recorded in the  Communicants Roll, 1879:

Auburndale Everett
Belmont Jamaica Plain
Boston including South Boston, East Boston Revere
Brookline Roxbury
Cambridge including Cambridgeport Rutland
Charlestown Somerville including West Somerville
Chelsea Watertown
Canton Wellesley including Wellesley Hills
Dorchester including Fields Corner Winthrop

In addition to demographic information, also included are editorial notes, such as “drinks – suspended,” “Popish recusant,” and “left for Yokohama Japan 1880.”)

Also notable are the number of people who listed hospitals, hotels, institutional homes, and schools as their home:

Cambridge Theological School Hotel Falmouth
City Hospital Hotel Lafayette
Coolidge House Hotel Pembroke
Fort Independence McLean Asylum
Good Samaritan House Mission House (SSJE)
Massachusetts General Hospital New Haven Hospital
Home for Colored Women Parker House
Hotel Anderson St. John’s School
Hotel Berkeley St. Luke’s Home
Hotel Comfort St. Margaret’s School

THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
June 10-16, 2019

Monday, June 10
Ephrem of Edessa
4:00 pm: River House Annual Meeting

Tuesday, June 11
Barnabas
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, June 12
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
6:30 pm:  Adult Confirmation Class 
7:00 pm: Bellringers

Thursday, June 13
2:00 pm: In Stile Moderno Concert
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, June 14
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, June 15
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal
10:00 am: Flower Guild
10:30 am: Confirmation (at the Cathedral)

Sunday, June 16
Trinity Sunday
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
11:15 am: Solemn Mass & Te Deum

This Week at the Advent, June 2-8, 2019

Welcome to the Church of the Advent! If you are new to the area, visiting, or seeking a church home, we are glad you’re here and hope to have a chance to greet you in person. Please join us downstairs following the service for a coffee hour.

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

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


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


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

11:15 Coffee Hour: Today’s hosts are Mark Aparece, Susan Fugliese, and Frank Olney. We are always in need of more volunteers. To view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com), Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com).


Important Update from the Wardens

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


THIS WEEK


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


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


COMING UP


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


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


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


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

This educational conference for high school and college students is a week-long conference held in West Hartford, Connecticut from July 28 to August 3 this summer. We encourage every high school and college-aged student between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one to register and attend. Registration forms are available in the church or on the Conference’s website at www.saintmichaelsconference.com. Please see Father James, Betsy James, Rob Braman, Mark Dwyer, Gabriel Ellsworth, Sam James, or Harriet Lewis-Bowen if you are interested in attending. The registration deadline is July 1.


ODDS & ENDS


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


From the Advent Archives —

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

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


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
June 3-9, 2019

Monday, June 3
Martyrs of Uganda

Tuesday, June 4
6:00 pm: Community Supper

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

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

Friday, June 7
11:30 am: Rosary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.


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

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

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

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Dr. Jeffrey A. Hanson at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, May 26, 2019, the Sixth Sunday of Easter

One of my favorite TV shows is the animated sitcom King of the Hill. It tells the story of Hank Hill, a conservative family man living and working as a propane salesman in a Texas suburb. Hank’s father, Cotton Hill, is an even more rigid reactionary, a proud and patriotic war veteran who constantly belittles his son Hank, whom he regards as totally inadequate even though Hank is truly a good and reliable husband, father, and friend. The extent of Hank and his father Cotton’s conflict over even trivial matters is revealed in one episode when they are shopping for Christmas tree ornaments. Hank selects an ornament for his father’s approval that bears the word “Peace.” “How’s this one?” he asks. “Peace!?” his father sneers. “I bet you would like that. Why don’t you get one with a flag-burnin’ on it?” Provoked by his father’s derision, as he always is, Hank replies defensively, “Dad, it’s Jesus peace, not hippie peace.”

Silly as that is, I agree with Hank that there is a difference between Jesus peace and hippie peace. There is a difference between the peace that Jesus speaks of as his gift to us in today’s Gospel passage and our ordinary, worldly idea of peace.

This promise of an extraordinary sort of peace is at the heart of today’s Gospel reading. Jesus in John 14 is speaking some of his last words to his closest disciples. Judas Iscariot has gone out to betray him, so Jesus knows what he is about to face, and he has told his disciples that he is going away; now he speaks these words to reassure them: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

Go back to the beginning of today’s passage, and you will see that Jesus is actually answering a question asked by one of his disciples, Judas (not Iscariot), the other Judas. That question, immediately prior to the beginning of today’s reading, is why does Jesus intend to reveal himself only to his intimate followers and not to the whole world. It may be that Judas is still imagining, even here, on the very night that Jesus is to be betrayed, that Jesus will be the Messiah everyone expects: A heroic warrior who will overthrow the enemies of Israel with a dazzling display of his power in the sight of all and thus be revealed to the whole world as a storied conqueror.

We learn something important here about Jesus in this moment. This is not the sort of Messiah that Jesus is. He says instead, that rather than show himself off before all the world he and his Father will in a quieter fashion make a home with those who love him and keep his words. To those who do not love him and do not keep his words, he will not reveal himself.

But to fail to keep the word of Jesus is also to fail to keep God’s word, for as Jesus reminds us here, and as he has said many times in John’s Gospel, he does not speak his own words; he only speaks the words of his Father, who sent him to us.

We also learn something important at this point about the Holy Spirit. Just as God the Father sent the Son to us to be incarnate, to live and die and rise from death as Jesus the Christ, so Jesus the Son of God asks his Father to send the Holy Spirit to us.

There is a perfect parallelism here. In exactly the same way that the Father sends the Son, so also the Father sends the Spirit at the request of the Son. This is even clearer if we back up a few verses to the first place in John 14 where Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit. Here in verse 26 Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Counselor.” Just ten verses prior he said, “I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive.”

The Holy Spirit can only be “another Counselor” if Jesus himself already is a Counselor. This is a really tough word in Greek to translate. Sometimes you may have seen it translated as “Comforter” or “Advocate.” These ideas are all implied in this word, which literally means “one who is called alongside.”

The Father sent the Son to “come alongside” us, to be our companion and friend; to teach, strengthen, and advise us; to defend us against accusation and condemnation by our enemies, sin and death. And now Jesus promises to send another, the Holy Spirit, who will also “come alongside” us, to be our companion and friend forever. Just like Jesus is only manifest to those who love and obey him and not to the world, so too the world will not recognize the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of truth is only revealed to those who love the Spirit, and those who love the Spirit must love the Son, and those who love the Son must love the Father.

So this gift of peace is according to John entirely wrapped up with nothing less than the gift of God’s giving to us God’s own self: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This peace that Jesus leaves us I would say is nothing other than the fullness of life from and with God.

This is the peace that Jesus gives. “My peace I give to you,” our Lord says. And he says “not as the world gives do I give to you.”

So what’s the difference?

First of all, I would say that what the world calls peace is really just absence of conflict. As long as there is no disturbance or violence then the world is happy and calls this peace.

The peace of Christ is not absence of conflict. In the very next chapter Jesus warns his disciples that the world will hate and persecute them. And Jesus himself is about to go to a violent death. The peace that Jesus gives does not buy us an exception from conflict in this life. His peace is the power to remain confident in the promises of God amidst conflict.

This is why Jesus is able to say right away that even though he is going away we should not let our hearts be troubled. “Don’t be afraid,” he says. Things are about to get very bad indeed, and yet, Jesus says, let not your hearts be troubled, and don’t be afraid, because the peace he bestows empowers us to remember and trust his promises even in the worst of times.

Second, remember that Jesus strongly associates the Holy Spirit with peace, and only ten verses prior to this one he also called the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of truth.” I think this is because truth and peace go together. The world is capable of forging phony peace from falsehood. Just ten years prior to our Lord’s birth the mighty Caesar Augustus returned to Rome after a triumphant three-year military campaign in Gaul. To honor Caesar Augustus’s slaughter of Rome’s enemies the Roman Senate commissioned an enormous altar to be built dedicated to the pagan goddess…Peace. That so-called Altar of Peace was nothing but a false temple to a false goddess built to bolster Caesar Augustus’s false ambition to be worshiped as himself a god.

That’s not true peace, that’s a cynical lie. There can be no peace where there is falsehood. The peace of Christ is the peace that comes with knowing the truth of who he is and again therefore, the truth of who God is. The Spirit of truth is another Counselor, just like Christ himself, the first Counselor, who in this same chapter of John says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Jesus is the truth of God the Father. He leaves us his peace because he has also made the truth known.

Finally, true peace is something that cannot be enjoyed individually but only corporately. It is a gift to you all, or as Hank Hill might say—in the English language’s only remaining vestige of the second-person plural pronoun—it is a gift to y’all. The gift of peace is not to you and you and you as separate individuals but to us as Christ’s own body animated by the Holy Spirit.

Because we can only be united by the peace that Jesus gives, and that peace is made possible by the blood he sheds on the cross. In a way Jesus is a warrior after all: By dying and rising again he vanquishes his and our enemies, sin and death, and thus he makes it possible for us to live in love together, he in us and we in him.

The world does not do this. The world is and has always been divided up by tribe: us vs. them.

This is not the way of the church. The church is a unity, it is a com-munity, and this community overcomes all divisions; it even overcomes the division between the living and the dead.

At morning prayer, evening prayer, and mass, we pray that the faithful departed “rest in peace.” I fear we probably think of this in worldly terms, that we are praying that the dead repose undisturbed, but this is not quite right. When we pray that the faithful departed will rest in peace what we mean is that we want our brothers and sisters to rest in peace by remaining in the fullness of life from and with God, even in earthly death. To rest in peace is to abide forever in the gift of God’s own living presence, the gift that all who love him necessarily share, no matter how many ways the world divides us.

In the person of Jesus himself, at every mass the priest bids this same peace of the Lord to be with you all always. We actually mean this. And it actually means something. We exchange that peace with the priest and with each other. We do this not because we wish each other well or because we are eager to chum it up with whoever is in the next pew over. This is a serious liturgical act.

To exchange the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ is to acknowledge that we have God’s own strength and wisdom amidst conflict; to exchange the peace is to recognize that we share a deep affirmation of the truth of who God is; to exchange the peace is to affirm that we are at unity with one another despite our many differences and at unity with the myriad who have gone before us.

Perhaps we have forgotten this by dint of overfamiliarity. It is true that saying “peace be with you” was at the time of Christ and remains today, an entirely ordinary greeting for Jewish believers to offer each other. Muslims say it too. And so do hippies. In the world’s hearing maybe saying “peace be with you” does sound like little more than a pious wish. Because the world can talk about peace, but it cannot give peace. But Jesus does not just wish us his peace; he gives it to us.

This is not what the hippies had in mind. And it’s not a slogan on a Christmas tree ornament. It’s the power and presence of God Almighty in our lives, all our lives, now and forevermore. Amen.