This Week at the Advent, January 27-February 2, 2019

The flowers at the high altar are given to the glory of God and in loving memory of Mary Herlihy Russo.


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.


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.


The Annual Parish Meeting is at 10:00 am this morning.  Please go to the Library and sign in, get your ballot, a copy of the 2018 Annual Report and a new edition of the Parish Directory.  You may vote after you sign in, or during the meeting.

If you can help count votes, please come to the Library at the conclusion of the 11:15 Mass.


The Middle School and High School class will not meet in Father James’s office this morning but will attend the Annual Parish Meeting in the Church following the 9:00 am Mass.  


9:00 Coffee Hour: The Annual Meeting will take place immediately following the 9:00 Mass this morning.  The regular 9:00 coffee hour resumes next Sunday, when the hosts will be Abigail & Alister Lewis-Bown and Barbara Boles. 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. Barbara Boles, Roxy Hanson, Betsy James, and Frederick Ou host the Coffee Hour this morning. We are always 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) or Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com).  


FROM THE SEARCH COMMITTEE

PARISH-WIDE FORUMS February 10 and 17

The Search Committee will be hosting two Parish-wide forums in February. The purpose of these discussions will be to present an overview of the responses to the Parish Questionnaire, to update the Parish on the search process, and to allow members of the Parish to share their thoughts with members of the Search Committee as they work on preparing the Parish Profile. The forums will be moderated by Lynda Blair, chair of the Search Committee, together with other members of the committee. The forums will be held on Sunday, February 10, 2019 after the 9’oclock Mass (with Lynda Blair, Meg Nelson, and Jack Gurnon moderating) and on Sunday, February 17, 2019 after the 11:15 Mass (with Lynda Blair and John Boyd moderating).

We will hold the meetings in Moseley Hall, which will be set up with plenty of chairs and “coffee hour” goodies in the back. We expect that the February 10 forum after the 9 o’clock will continue past the start of the 11:15 Mass; so if you are usually an 11 o’clocker, and you can only come on February 10, we recommend that you attend the 9 o’clock Mass that week. Members of the Search Committee will be present in addition to the moderators at both forums.  The Wardens also plan to attend both sessions.


THIS WEEK


The Wednesday morning Bible Study meets in the library this Wednesday at 10:00 am,  and currently studying Hebrews.  Please come, bring your Bible, and someone you know. 


COMING UP


North Shore House Group Saturday, February 2.  A North Shore House Group is starting up in Salem, MA beginning this Saturday, February 2 at 10AM. The group will meet monthly on Saturday mornings. This is a great opportunity for North Shore members of the Advent to have fellowship time together. At each session a theological idea will be discussed. The first session will meet at Brothers Taverna at 283 Derby St. in Salem. At the first session we will have brunch and come up with a running list of theological points to ponder in the coming months. For any information please contact Robb Scholten at robb.scholten@gmail.com.


The Feast of Presentation of Our Lord, also known as The Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, will be celebrated next Sunday, February 3rd. A distinctive part of those celebrations will be a candlelight procession. For us, this will signify Christ, who has come into the world and is indeed the Light of the World. We will recall from the Gospel lessons that day, when Jesus is presented in the Temple, the Prophet Simeon taking the Baby Jesus in his arms and proclaiming Him as “a light to lighten the Gentiles and the Glory of Thy people Israel.”

To continue the celebration, our entire parish is invited to The Parish of All Saints, Ashmont for Solemn Evensong, a Solemn Procession, and Solemn Benediction at 4:00 pm. The Men and Boys Choir of All Saints’, Ashmont and the Choir of All Saints’ Church in Worcester, Massachusetts will sing the service. 


Our Entr’acte series of adult education presentations resumes next Sunday, February 3rd. These Entr’acte presentations happen between the 9:00 am and 11:15 am Masses in the library adjacent to the nave.  Father Welch, our Interim Rector, will present a three-part series called Bare Ruined Choirs: A Personal Reflection on the State of the Church in America.  These presentations are the result of Father Welch’s experience over the last four years as he has visited churches of all types in his region of mid-coast Maine.  These churches are large and small, rural and town, and range from Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Congregational, to Independent Bible, Pentecostal, and Conservative Baptist.  The visits included worshiping with the congregation, and when it was possible, talking with pastors and parishioners.  In these three talks, Fr. Welch will report what he heard, saw, and felt, and also offer a theological reflection on what it may mean to live as a faithful person in a post-Christian society.  While the news is most often grim, there are moments of illumination and even exaltation, with valuable lessons for us all.


LET’S RISE AGAINST HUNGER!  Saturday, February 16th from 10:00 am to noon we will host a Rise Against Hunger event in Moseley Hall.  We will be  hosting parishioners and clergy from the other parishes in the Boston Harbor Deanery and attempt to pack 10,000 meals in less than two hours!  It sounds impossible, but it can be done, and we can have fun while packing.  These nutritious meals will be shipped to other parts of the world where many are going to bed hungry.  We need five or six volunteers from the parish and we are also taking donations to help offset the $3,500.00 it takes to buy the materials for the event.  Volunteers are asked to arrive no later the 9:45 and it would be really helpful if there are two or three volunteers to help unload the truck at 8:30 that morning.  


ODDS & ENDS


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 March 6 this year.


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 flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish.  There are openings for  flower memorials or thanksgivings for the High Altar on Sundays, February 10 and March 3.  If you are interested, please call Blenda Jeffry at 978-443-3519 (flowers.advent@gmail.com).


Advent Candles for home use: Please help yourself to some partially used candles; the box is in the rear of the nave. Note that most have oddly sized bases so they may not fit into standard candlesticks, but certainly can be adapted with a little imagination. These are top-quality candles designed for liturgical use, so they have high beeswax content. Light up your life with candles that have been used in this sacred space! Questions, see Deacon Daphne. 


Blessing of Homes in Epiphanytide

Saint Matthew tells us that when the wise men arrived in Bethlehem to visit Jesus, they found Him and His mother in a house. This is a cue that in Epiphanytide our celebration should focus on our own houses, and it is a very old custom to bless houses in the Epiphany season. In the East, in particular, it is the custom for the parish priest to go through the parish blessing houses-not the elaborate blessing of a new home, but a special blessing for the Epiphany. This serves as a renewal of the homes in which the people of God dwell and live out the mystery of the faith day by day. In recent years, this custom has been revived in some places in the West. However, there is another way of blessing homes at Epiphany that begins in Church but does not require the priest to go from house to house—something that would be impossible in many non-geographical parishes in the modern world. This custom involves chalk that is blessed by the priest and taken home by families to mark the doors of their homes.

There is blessed chalk in the west end of the Church, near the main doors, for each of us to use at our homes. Please take some and use it to mark your homes on the lintel above the front door with the first initials of each of the Wisemen framed by the current year. Like this: 20 + G + M + B + 19

Then offer the following prayer:

Leader: The Lord be with you.

People: And with thy spirit.

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

All: Amen.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
January 28-February 3, 2019

Monday, January 28
Thomas Aquinas

Tuesday, January 29
5:30 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, January 30
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bell Ringing

Thursday, January 31
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, February 1
Brigid of Ireland

11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, February 2
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal
10:00 am: Flower Guild

Sunday, February 3
The Solemnity of the Presentation of Our Lord (Candlemas)
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Procession & Sung Mass
10:15 am:  Entr’acte
11:15 am: Procession & Solemn Mass

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Jay C. James at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, January 20, 2019, the Solemnity of the Confession of St Peter

Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’  And Jesus answered him. ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona!  for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.’

There are two meanings to confession in the Church and they take different forms.  Both forms of confession are evidenced in Peter’s ministry. There are seemingly two different versions of the same man Simon-Peter in the Gospels.  We have something to learn about our own faith in Jesus Christ and what He is looking for in us when we discover the two expressions or versions of Peter.

First, confession:  When we hear of Christians making their confession in the Church they are usually referring to making a sacramental confession before a priest or a bishop.  We have just spent two classes in the middle and high school classes in our church school learning about sacramental confession and how to make a sacramental confession.  When anyone “makes a confession” in the Church of this sacramental kind, the penitent is indeed stating out loud in the confessional all the sins committed since the last confession.  The sins are outwardly confessed in that the confessor can hear them and the penitent can hear them. They are, in a particular sense, made real and objective. They can be, in a sense, “looked at” because they are confessed.

There is also an aspect of sacramental confession that is like The Confession of Peter from today’s Gospel.  When a penitent makes a sacramental confession there is a belief, a trust, a faith that the Church in this world has the Holy Spirit active and alive in the Church’s ministry and can speak for Christ.  Christ and the Holy Spirit are one. By making a sacramental confession the faith of the penitent is witnessing that what Christ told Peter after Peter’s confession is the truth. Jesus said, after Peter’s confession, I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  The two types of confession come together.  Both proclaim that Jesus is the Christ of God and has authority on earth to forgive sins.    These are the two meanings of confession.

The two types, or versions, or persons of Simon-Peter are there in the Gospels for us to see, appreciate, and learn something about ourselves in the process.  On the one hand the Gospels present us with a Simon-Peter who is intense, sometimes excitable, almost foolish, way too anxious, and even bumbling. Isn’t Peter the one who impetuously jumps out of the boat first when Jesus comes walking on the water?  Isn’t Peter the one who is exhausted and exasperated, and even seems irritated with Our Lord when Jesus asked him to push out from the shore and go fishing again, after he had been fishing all night? And we know it’s Peter who after Jesus’ arrest actually denies that he even knows Jesus.  Yet it is this same Simon Bar-Jona Jesus comes to call a rock. It is this same Peter who risks his life to build up the Church. It is his excellent gift of humility and integrity that allows him to admit that he was wrong when barring non-Jews from the faith of the Church and he changed his mind.  It was he who is the first among the apostles to outwardly and emphatically proclaim Jesus as the Christ of God. We see in the Gospels two sides of this man who Our Lord comes to claim that it is on this rock, Christ, on which He will build His church, and He did.

For us, as followers of Jesus, we have such a thorough and complete example in Saint Peter of how our whole lives can be a confession of Jesus Christ.  We bring all aspects of our lives to Jesus when we choose to follow Him. Just like Saint Peter the faith we have in Jesus does not depend on the degree of goodness we have.  Saint Peter was not in any way perfect. The faithfulness we have in our commitment to Jesus does matter.  We bring all our virtues and our vices with us when we come to Jesus.  We bring all our strengthens and our weaknesses, all our gifts and failures.  Jesus takes the gifts and uses them so we can grow in our faithfulness and he takes our failures and weaknesses and uses them to reveal what we have to overcome to grow in faithfulness.

In this way, our whole lives, every part of them, are used to have us grow in faithfulness, in love, and in hope of everlasting life.  In other words, growing to perfection. We can be faithful not just in spite of our imperfections, but have them be used to bring us to perfection.  Just like in the case of Saint Peter. Jesus looks for faithfulness in us, and will use that to bring us to complete goodness and perfection.

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

This Week at the Advent, January 20-26, 2019

The flowers at the high altar are given to the glory of God and in loving memory of Peter Ward Britton.

The flowers at the crossing are given in loving memory of Vincent Bohlen and Edgar Bohlen, and in thanksgiving for the baptism of Bea Egan.


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.


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: Betsy Ridge Madsen, Will Joyner & Linda Jones host the Coffee Hour this morning! 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. Maria Denslow, Maggie Eggert, Gabriel Ellsworth, and Nick Westberg host the Coffee Hour this morning.  We will have a festive coffee hour hosted by members of the Parish today. We are always 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) or Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com). 


Evensong & Benediction & Organ Recital — Today at 4:30 organist Tate Addis, organist at First Baptist Church in Asheville, North Carolina, offers a half hour prelude recital of works by Georg Bohm, Anton Heiller and Ferruccio Busoni. At 5:00 pm, the Advent Choir will sing Evensong, featuring renaissance polyphony by Byrd, Tallis and Palestrina. Following the service, a light supper will be served, and Mark Dwyer will offer a brief talk entitled “The Tudors” discussing Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I with Thomas Tallis and William Byrd and the musical establishment of the time.  


FROM THE SEARCH COMMITTEE

PARISH-WIDE FORUMS Mark your calendars now!

The Search Committee will be hosting two Parish-wide forums in February. The purpose of these discussions will be to present an overview of the responses to the Parish Questionnaire, to update the Parish on the search process, and to allow members of the Parish to share their thoughts with members of the Search Committee as they work on preparing the Parish Profile. The forums will be moderated by Lynda Blair, chair of the Search Committee, together with other members of the committee. The forums will be held on Sunday, February 10, 2019 after the 9’oclock Mass (with Lynda Blair, Meg Nelson, and Jack Gurnon moderating) and on Sunday, February 17, 2019 after the 11:15 Mass (with Lynda Blair and John Boyd moderating).

We will hold the meetings in Moseley Hall, which will be set up with plenty of chairs and “coffee hour” goodies in the back. We expect that the February 10 forum after the 9 o’clock will continue past the start of the 11:15 Mass; so if you are usually an 11 o’clocker, and you can only come on February 10, we recommend that you attend the 9 o’clock Mass that week. Members of the Search Committee will be present in addition to the moderators at both forums.  The Wardens also plan to attend both sessions.


REPORT OF THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE

The nominating committee proposes the following persons for election to the indicated offices at the Annual Meeting to be held Sunday, January 27, 2019.

For Member of Vestry (4 to be elected):  Lynda Blair, Dustin Henderson, David Lapin, Fran Piscitelli, Philip Sawyer.

For Treasurer: Adam Rutledge.

For Clerk: Frederick Ou.

For Delegate to the Diocesan Convention (2 to be elected): Betsy Ridge Madsen, Julianne Ture.

For Alternate Delegate: Robb Scholten.

Informational statements from the candidates will be posted in advance of the Annual Meeting.

-By the Nominating Committee, consisting of C. Thomas Brown, Paul Roberts, John Boyd, Kara Rodgers, and John Higgins.

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CLERK:  The Vestry has set the next Annual Meeting of the Parish for Sunday, January 27, 2019.  At that meeting there will be elections for Vestry and for Diocesan Convention.  To qualify to vote in a Parish election, you must be a baptized Christian, at least 16 years of age, who makes a regular, recorded contribution to support the Parish for the preceding year.  You must also subscribe to the authority of the Parish By-Laws and the Canons of the Diocese.

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

The Advent needs and values the participation of new parishioners, both in Parish life and Parish governance.  If you are new, please be sure to make a pledge for 2019 so that you can vote in the Annual Meeting.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. 

In accordance with Article IV, Section 2, of the By-Laws of the Parish of the Advent, the Clerk has posted the Warrant for the Annual Meeting in the lobby of the Parish Hall, The Vestry has called the Annual Meeting for Sunday, January 27, 2019, at 10:00 am.

                                                                      Faithfully yours,  

                                                                      Frederick Ou, Clerk


THIS WEEK


Please note that the parish office will be closed Monday, January 21 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.


The Wednesday morning Bible Study meets in the library this Wednesday at 10:00 am,  and currently studying Hebrews.  Please come, bring your Bible, and someone you know. 


COMING UP


Common Cathedral – This morning volunteers from our parish will partner with the Common Cathedral on the Boston Common to provide lunch, Holy Communion, and Christian fellowship with homeless people and their friends.  Lunch was prepared yesterday by volunteer parishioners and the lunch will be served today at the Common Cathedral service. Please visit http://commoncathedral.org/ for more information.  The next time Advent parishioners are volunteering for this vital ministry is Sunday, March 10th. 


North Shore House Group Saturday, February 2nd.  A North Shore House Group is starting up in Salem, MA beginning on Saturday, February 2nd at 10AM. The group will meet monthly on Saturday mornings. This is a great opportunity for North Shore members of the Advent to have fellowship time together. At each session a theological idea will be discussed. The first session will meet at Brothers Taverna at 283 Derby St. in Salem. At the first session we will have brunch and come up with a running-list of Theological points to ponder in the coming months. For any information please contact Robb Scholten at robb.scholten@gmail.com.


The Feast of Presentation of Our Lord, also known as The Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, will be celebrated Sunday, February 3rd.  A distinctive part of those celebrations will be a candlelight procession.  For us, this will signify Christ, who has come into the world and is indeed the Light of the World.  We will recall from the Gospel lessons that day, when Jesus is presented in the Temple, the Prophet Simeon taking the Baby Jesus in his arms and proclaiming Him as “a light to lighten the Gentiles and the Glory of Thy people Israel.”

To continue the celebration, our entire parish is invited to The Parish of All Saints, Ashmont for Solemn Evensong, a Solemn Procession, and Solemn Benediction at 4:00 pm. The Men and Boy Choir of All Saints’, Ashmont and the Choir of All Saints’ Church in Worcester, Massachusetts will sing the service. 


Our Entr’acte series of adult education presentations resumes on Sunday, February 3rd. These Entr’acte presentations happen between the 9:00 am and 11:15 am Masses in the library adjacent to the nave.  Father Welch, our Interim Rector, will present a three-part series called Bare Ruined Choirs: A Personal Reflection on the State of the Church in America.  These presentations are the result of Father Welch’s experience over the last four years as he has visited churches of all types in his region of mid-coast Maine.  These churches are large and small, rural and town, and range from Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Congregational, to Independent Bible, Pentecostal, and Conservative Baptist.  The visits included worshiping with the congregation, and when it was possible, talking with pastors and parishioners.  In these three talks, Fr. Welch will report what he heard, saw, and felt, and also offer a theological reflection on what it may mean to live as a faithful person in a post-Christian society.  While the news is most often grim, there are moments of illumination and even exaltation, with valuable lessons for us all.


LET’S RISE AGAINST HUNGER!  Saturday, February 16th from 10:00 am to noon we will host a Rise Against Hunger event in Moseley Hall.  We will be  hosting parishioners and clergy from the other parishes in the Boston Harbor Deanery and attempt to pack 10,000 meals in less than two hours!  It sounds impossible, but it can be done, and we can have fun while packing.  These nutritious meals will be shipped to other parts of the world where many are going to bed hungry.  We need five or six volunteers from the parish and we are also taking donations to help offset the $3,500.00 it takes to buy the materials for the event.  Volunteers are asked to arrive no later the 9:45 and it would be really helpful if there are two or three volunteers to help unload the truck at 8:30 that morning.  


ARE YOU IN HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE?  Please come with your parents to a presentation on Saint Michael’s Conference on Sunday, February 10th at 10:15 in Father James’s office.  Saint Michael’s Conference is an educational week-long conference for young people between and ages of 14 and 21.  They come together from all over the country to learn about their Faith and to strengthen their Faith.  Come and find out why young people return to this conference year after year. 


STEWARDSHIP 2019


As of this past Friday we have received 192 pledges, pledging a total of $538,995.  86 have increased their pledges by 20%, and there are 26 new pledges.  We have still to hear from 42 parishioners who pledged last year.


ODDS & ENDS


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 March 6 this year.


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 flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish.  There are openings for  flower memorials or thanksgivings for the High Altar on Sundays, February 10, and February 17.  If you are interested, please call Blenda Jeffry at 978-443-3519 (flowers.advent@gmail.com).


We give praise and thanksgiving this day for the Baptism of Beatrice Wallis Egan who received the Sacrament of New Birth yesterday afternoon.  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.  


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
January 21-27, 2019

Monday, January 21
Agnes of Rome — Martin Luther King Day (Parish Office Closed)

Tuesday, January 22
Vincent of Saragossa
5:30 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, January 23
Phillips Brooks
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Bell Ringing

Thursday, January 24
Antony of Egypt
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, January 25
The Conversion of St Paul

11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, January 26
Timothy & Titus
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal
10:00 am: Flower Guild

Sunday, January 27
The Third Sunday after the Epiphany
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
10:15 am: Annual Parish Meeting
11:15 am: Solemn Mass

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Canon Alistair Macdonald-Radcliff at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, January 13, 2019, the First Sunday after Epiphany

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

It is striking that the Church calendar, after the great Feast of Christmas, plunges rather rapidly after Low Sunday into two particularly fascinating episodes.

First the story of the Epiphany and secondly the  Baptism of Christ.

Both are deeply intriguing as soon as we pause to probe beyond the superficial familiarity that will otherwise beguile us.

Consider the Epiphany, most of us have a charmingly precise idea of what that original episode comprised: namely, three wise men understood to be Kings, who had travelled on camels from somewhere out in the East, seemingly alone yet guided by a star, bringing with them gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

All very picturesque and the subject of any number of familiar paintings that have recently adorned our mantlepieces as Christmas cards.

Let us pass over such niceties as to whether there were in fact only three of them (The Syriac church has always held there were `12) and whether they were really kings (both points upon which the Bible tells us absolutely nothing just as it does of their further history).

But then there is a sentence that we regularly read without any special attention when in fact it is deeply curious, namely: When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him”?

It is actually an interesting puzzle as to WHY both Herod and then “all of Jerusalem with him” were frightened.  After all, why would anyone be worried by some eccentric itinerant figures from the East wandering by claiming to be following a star? Do they not sound redolent of the 1960’s and the West Coast where one is given to understand that some people follow the guidance of rocks and crystals quite regularly and so why not stars?

Yet in fact, the answer to the puzzles of the Epiphany lie in just

  • Who these wise men really were, and
  • Where they came from

While for us,  there is too the most important question of all, namely

  • why did the Wise Men come?

I would suggest that those mysterious Wise Men came from the area now called Kurdistan, within a wider area then known as Parthia.

Which is to say that they were drawn from a people known from ancient times as the Medes among whom the magi were a seemingly hereditary priesthood viewed as having extraordinary and esoteric religious knowledge and that had most likely strong Sumerian influences. Later it took a more Persian form that relates to the religion we now call Zoroastrianism, which itself evolved from its somewhat dualist beginnings into the monotheistic faith that it is today (also known as Parsi-ism in India

No less a figure than Herodotus (cf. The Histories I, ci) provides a principle source here and for identifying oneiromancy (not astrology we may note)  or the interpretation of dreams as one of their central gifts.[1]

And as for why a few Wise Men from Parthia would frighten Herod and all Jerusalem with him, you have only to recall the recent history of those times to answer this question.

It was not long before the birth of Christ that with Parthian assistance, Jewish sovereignty had been restored, leaving Jerusalem  fortified with a Jewish garrison.

It was only after that  and after fleeing to Rome, that Herod had obtained from the  Emperor Augustus the title  “King of the Jews” and – even more important– the resources needed to return. Even then,  it was not for three years, and after a five month siege of Jerusalem by Roman troops, that Herod was actually able to occupy his own capital.

Thus,  Herod had only just ascended to a precarious throne of a rebellious buffer state which situated between contending empires: Rome on one side and Parthia on the other. So, in that context it was indeed very understandable that Herod feared  that his own subjects might conspire to bring the Parthians in again to their aid against him.[2]

And while he feared for his throne, everyone else feared for their safety in the event of another siege.

All this dispels much of the twee cosiness of the picturesque Epiphany, that seems so familiar to us

Nonetheless the key question remains of WHY the wise came – and that was because, where others merely looked, they SAW who the infant Jesus really was – Son of God and redeemer of the world…..

So what then of today’s Gospel?

Well that develops that same last point – in being all about the manifestation and recognition of who Jesus really was – spelled out according to St Luke quite explicitly in propositional form (and via a voice from heaven)

“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased. ”

But that disclosure comes within a very interesting context – namely the Baptism of Christ by St John the Baptist.

If last week we were still with the infant Jesus – this week  we have proceeded with break-neck speed right on to something that happened years later – namely his Baptism

But again, we need go beyond the familiar imagery and all those paintings of this scene that come to our mind

A deceptively simple question is again central

Why did Jesus need to be baptised by John ? 

Early followers of Christ evidenced some perplexity about these questions. For one thing, the baptism of Christ by John could be taken to suggest that Jesus was somehow subordinate to John the Baptist.

Then again,  if we think of this in the light of the theology of Baptism later developed by the church  and thus of baptism as about specific and profound ontological change,  as in

  • imparting the grace of forgiveness of sins, and as
  • marking our initiation into the Church,

this theology is not applicable either.

— How could this apply to Jesus Christ who never committed any sins and thus needed no forgiveness ?  Clearly it could not !

But remember now that Gospel line again:  “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Here there is a clear echo with the Book of Isaiah, which states: “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased” (Isaiah 42:7). 

This illustrates what Christians had come to believe,  namely,  that the “Suffering Servant” in Isaiah ultimately refers to Jesus Christ. 

It is Jesus who will be thus, the definitive “covenant of the people” and “light for all nations.”  Who will “open the eyes of the blind” and “and release the prisoners, and release those who live in darkness.”  

 

Thus the readings today help us to understand something that goes back all the way to the Wise Men and those who followed Christ during his lifetime

 

Namely the belief in the incarnation – and why it was that Christ came. Since by virtue of being uniquely both fully human and divine, it was he alone who could

— by offering his own life for us— atone for our sins, and make redemption available to all who believe.

 

But what about John the Baptist specifically in all this?

 

Here, just as with the Wise Men – the background,  or “back story” as they say now, is all important

 

For Luke – as we see unfolded throughout the Gospel,

John the Baptist is himself a fulfilment of prophecy and his arrival marks a new manifestation of prophecy, an exciting sign of renewed divine activity.

While his birth is significantly less miraculous than the virgin birth ascribed to Jesus, it is nonetheless in line with the birth of Isaac to the elderly Sarah. or of Samuel to Hannah.

Thus is it indicated that he is sent by God, to prepare the way for Jesus.

But what is the theological meaning of John’s particular kind of baptism?

Luke follows Mark exactly in stating that John preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3; cf. Acts 19:4). And here epentance, or transformation in the sense of the word metanoia is meant

  • changing one’s entire outlook and disposition,
  • actively turning to God, rejecting evil and
  • embracing righteousness.

And in the Gospels John’s baptism is thus crucially an act of preparation for the coming of the Lord and for divine judgment.

The Jewish historian Josephus connects this baptism with forgiveness, seeing the action as meet, right and appropriate but not of itself purificatory – rather it expresses appropriately a spiritual reality separately effected[3].

There is thus nothing here working ex opere operato in the manner of a sacrament

Such inner cleansing, inner conversion of life, would appropriately be followed by ritual cleansing of the body, which no doubt was also felt to seal and symbolize the inner event.

This can be held to cohere with the prophetic tradition that asks for justice and mercy before sacrifice, and with the thinking expressed at Qumran about the relationship between inner commitment and “entering the water” as preparation for the community meals (Manual of Discipline). Josephus—and perhaps indeed John—had had very probably spent some time in his youth with the Essene movement, in the desert at Qumran.[4]

All of this coheres with what is made so very clear in St John’s Gospel, namely that John the Baptist’s commission is that of a witness and a revealer of a greater truth coming from another.

Remember those words from the Prologue (we heard in the Service of Lessons and Carols):

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.” (John 1:6-7)

Or as John the Baptist puts it himself in that Gospel, when facing interrogation by emissaries of the religio-political authorities in Jerusalem:

Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord” ’,
as the prophet Isaiah said.

For it is there that you have the challenge for each of us: To recognise fully who Jesus Christ was and is – in the manner of the Wise Men and now to take our commission into this world and strive

To make straight the way of the Lord !                   AMEN.


[1] The term deriving from the Greek words όνειρο, dream, and μαντεία manteia, prophecy and covering a form of divination based upon dreams – which in more recent times was revived in modern culture by such figures as Carl Jung.

[2] Then there are the further factors to keep in mind that by  the time of the birth of Christ, Herod may have been close to his final illness. Augustus was also aging, and Rome, since the retirement of Tiberius, was without an experienced military commander. While away to the north Pro-Parthian Armenia was fomenting revolt against Rome (which was to be successfully accomplished within two years.)

[3] “Indeed, it seemed to John that even this washing would not be acceptable as a pardon for sins, but only as a purification for the body, unless the soul had previously been cleansed through upright conduct.” (Ant 18.5.2, transl. J. Fitzmayer, in The Gospel According to Luke I-IX, Anchor Bible Commentary Vol. 28: New York 1979,  p.451.

[4] A movement that seems to have started the whole tradition that has come down to Judaism to this day in the guise of the ritual rites of purification associated with the Mikvah.

This Week at the Advent, January 13-19, 2019

The flowers at the High Altar are given to the glory of God and in loving memory of Nancy Hockfield LaPosta.


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.


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 Bette Boughton and Jonnet Holladay host the Coffee Hour this morning! 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. John Ross Campbell, David Fisher, and Karen Harrington host the Coffee Hour this morning.We will have a festive coffee hour hosted by members of the Parish today. We are always 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) or Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com). 


Compline at the Advent—this evening at 8 pm—join us for the ancient liturgy of Compline, preceded by Lucernarium, an evening service of lamp-lighting. Members of the Advent Choir will sing chant and contemplative music.  We pray Compline on the second Sunday of every month at 8:00 pm in the nave. 


The Annual Parish Meeting is Sunday, January 27, 2019.  Contributions to the 2018 Annual Report were due in the Parish Office by January 4.  If you owe a report (as head of a committee or group) please send it in ASAP.


FROM THE WARDENS

Dear Parishioners and Friends of the Church of the Advent,

We would like to thank the many people whose efforts made Fr Warren’s last Sunday with us such a memorable day. It was a moving day of thanks and tribute for our pastor of two decades. Let us keep him in our prayers as he moves to Marblehead and begins this new stage in his life. While the sadness of his departure is immediate and acute, our lasting memory should be of the joy with which he led us, and the vitality of the Parish family he leaves behind.

As the Advent has now entered this transition period, we wanted to provide a brief update on a few items.

First, our interim, the Rev’d Truman Welch, will take up his duties on Monday, January 28, and will preach on his first Sunday, February 3, when we will observe Candlemas.  We are excited to welcome Fr. Welch among us. Don’t be surprised to see him around the Hill and at the Advent on occasion toward the end of the month as he gets settled in back in Boston. We are also pleased that the Rev’d Canon Alistair Macdonald-Radcliff will serve as Interim Assisting Priest through Candlemas.  Fr. Macdonald-Radcliff is well-known to the Parish, having often assisted here during times of vacation and pilgrimage by other priests. We are thankful that he has a few weeks to spend with us as we await the arrival of Fr. Welch.

Second, we look forward to seeing everyone at the Annual Meeting, which will commence at 10:15am on Sunday, January 27 between the two Masses. The list of nominees for Vestry and other Parish offices will be available in this Sunday’s bulletin. The Vestry will next meet this coming Thursday, January 17. The agenda includes consideration and approval of the budget for 2019, which will then be presented to the Parish in the Annual Report and at the Annual Meeting.

Third, our transition committees continue their work. The Search Committee is in the process of reviewing the substantial number of responses to the Parish Questionnaire, and planning the content of the Parish Profile. The Administration Committee is planning a series of reports and recommendations to the Vestry. There will be more detailed reports from both of these Committees in the Annual Report and at the Annual Meeting.

Fourth, we would like to introduce and welcome our new Parish Administrator, Jim Singletary. Jim previously served as administrator of churches in Salem and in Seattle. We are very lucky to have found an experienced pair of hands to take over from Jim Wood. Congratulations to Jim Wood on his retirement and thanks to him for more than two decades of service to our Parish! And welcome Jim Singletary! You will all have the chance to meet “new Jim” in person around the office, or at the Annual Meeting.

May God continue to bless the Church of the Advent.

Very truly yours,

Thomas Brown & Paul J. Roberts, Wardens.


REPORT OF THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE

The nominating committee proposes the following persons for election to the indicated offices at the Annual Meeting to be held Sunday, January 27, 2019.

For Member of Vestry (4 to be elected):  Lynda Blair, Dustin Henderson, David Lapin, Fran Piscitelli, Philip Sawyer.

For Treasurer: Adam Rutledge.

For Clerk: Frederick Ou.

For Delegate to the Diocesan Convention (2 to be elected): Betsy Ridge Madsen, Julianne Ture.

For Alternate Delegate: Robb Scholten.

Informational statements from the candidates will be posted in advance of the Annual Meeting.

-By the Nominating Committee, consisting of C. Thomas Brown, Paul Roberts, John Boyd, Kara Rodgers, and John Higgins.

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CLERK:  The Vestry has set the next Annual Meeting of the Parish for Sunday, January 27, 2019.  At that meeting there will be elections for Vestry and for Diocesan Convention.  To qualify to vote in a Parish election, you must be a baptized Christian, at least 16 years of age, who makes a regular, recorded contribution to support the Parish for the preceding year.  You must also subscribe to the authority of the Parish By-Laws and the Canons of the Diocese.

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

The Advent needs and values the participation of new parishioners, both in Parish life and Parish governance.  If you are new, please be sure to make a pledge for 2019 so that you can vote in the Annual Meeting.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. 

In accordance with Article IV, Section 2, of the By-Laws of the Parish of the Advent, the Clerk has posted the Warrant for the Annual Meeting in the lobby of the Parish Hall, The Vestry has called the Annual Meeting for Sunday, January 27, 2016, at 10:00 am.

                                                                      Faithfully yours,  

                                                                      Frederick Ou, Clerk


THIS WEEK


The Wednesday morning Bible Study meets in the library this Wednesday at 10:00 am.  We are embarking on a study of Hebrews.  Please come, bring your Bible, and someone you know.  


COMING UP


Common Cathedral Upcoming Volunteer Oppportunities.  Four times a year the Advent partners with Common Cathedral, an outdoor worship service on the Common that provides lunch, communion, and fellowship with homeless people and their friends. Members of the Parish will be on the Common January 20th helping with this vital ministry. Volunteers are welcome for the next time Advent partners on March 10th. Please visit http://commoncathedral.org/ for more information. To be a volunteer please contact Pastoral Assistant, Eric Fialho, at efialho@eds.edu.   


North Shore House Group Saturday, February 2nd.  A North Shore House Group is starting up in Salem, MA beginning on Saturday, February 2nd at 10AM. The group will meet monthly on Saturday mornings. This is a great opportunity for North Shore members of the Advent to have fellowship time together. At each session a theological idea will be discussed. The first session will meet at Brothers Taverna at 283 Derby St. in Salem. At the first session we will have brunch and come up with a running-list of Theological points to ponder in the coming months. For any information please contact Robb Scholten at robb.scholten@gmail.com.


Are you someone who will RISE AGAINST HUNGER?   If you are, then we can use you at the event we’re hosting on Saturday, February 16th from 10:00 am to noon in Moseley Hall. Again this year The Advent is hosting a Rise Against Hunger event for the members of our Diocese who are in the Boston Harbor Deanery. We are looking for five or six volunteers from our parish to join volunteers from other parishes around the Deanery to prepare 10,000 meals. That’s right. We will prepare dry food packages, one complete meal in each package with the necessary vitamins and nutrients, that will be sent somewhere around the world where people are hungry. The goal of Rise Against Hunger is to see an end to hunger in our lifetime. A very lofty goal, and we can do our part by stepping up and helping on February 16th.  If you have helped with events like this you will know that this is really a lot of fun. There’s music, some dancing, bells ringing to announce how many meals have been created, and just a good sense of satisfaction knowing that we are reaching out to others in need. We ask those who volunteer to arrive at 9:45 on that day. We are also looking for donations to offset the $3,500.00 it takes to put on the event and meet the cost of the food and materials. Within hours of announcing the event, we received a $500 donation from Emmanuel Church and a pledge of having some volunteers attending from that parish. What will the people of The Advent do? If you’re interested in helping or making a donation, please contact Father James. www.riseagainsthunger.org (go to the website and then click “get involved” and then click “host a meal packaging event”).  


ODDS & ENDS


Common Art Show Rescheduled. Due to technical hold ups Advent will now plan on hosting the Common Art Show at a later date in Spring. 


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 flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish.  There are openings for  flower memorials or thanksgivings for the High Altar on Sundays, February 10, and February 17.  If you are interested, please call Blenda Jeffry at 978-443-3519 (flowers.advent@gmail.com).


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
January 14-20, 2019

Monday, January 14

Tuesday, January 15
5:30 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, January 16
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
6:00 pm: Administration Committee
7:00 pm: Bell Ringing

Thursday, January 17
Antony of Egypt

5:15 pm: Property Committee
6:15 pm: Vestry
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, January 18
The Confession of St Peter

11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, January 19
Wulfstan of Worcester
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal
10:00 am: Flower Guild

Sunday, January 20
The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
11:15 am: Solemn Mass
4:30 pm: Organ Recital
5:00 pm: Solemn Evensong & Benediction

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Dr Jeffrey Hanson at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, January 6, 2019, the Feast of the Epiphany

Today the Christmas season comes to a close. It comes to a close in the feast the Church calls the Epiphany. It may interest you to know that the early church started celebrating Epiphany before initiating a commemoration for Christmas, so important was it in the minds of our forebears in faith.

So why so important? What is an epiphany anyway? In Greek it means simply “a revelation from above.” So what we remember this day is a revelation from God, of God’s own redeeming action in a new and literally world-transformative way. The Nativity of Jesus Christ is just the beginning of the definitive chapter in God’s dealings with humanity, and we only grasp the full implication of that beginning here, when we consider not just the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ but how his birth was received.

That blessed birth was received by what Matthew calls the “great joy” of total strangers to the covenant between God and the people God chose unto himself. These strangers come from a foreign land, and they practice a strange art. They are astrologers, interpreters of celestial signs, which were in the ancient world often reported to attend the birth of great kings.

We suspect they are outsiders because they make an understandable mistake when they head off to Israel from their homeland; rightly believing that the celestial sign is a portent of a royal birth they wrongly look for the child in Jerusalem, the capital city and natural home of the ruling family.

Neither the visiting wise men nor the false and murderous king Herod knows the truth though, a truth that can only be revealed by the Hebrew prophet Micah, whom Matthew freely quotes in the middle of today’s passage. The birth of the real king of the Jews takes place not in Jerusalem but in little Bethlehem.

And this is not the only fulfillment of prophecy in Matthew chapter 2. For the Hebrew Scriptures are littered with the promised expectation that foreign powers will one day come to Israel not to threaten but to honor her.

The most obvious example is from today’s reading in Isaiah 60: “Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn… They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.”

And so it came to pass in Bethlehem, that the infant Christ and his mother Mary received the gifts of the kings of nations and the Lord’s praise was proclaimed by the Gentiles as well.

That Jesus and Mary received the gifts of these Gentile ambassadors I believe was not merely to politely accept a donation but to enact a crucially important religious and political ritual.

What happens in Matthew 2 is that the nations, the Gentiles, powerful representatives of the world outside Israel and the covenant people, come to pay tribute to the Jews and to their newborn king.

And what do I mean by tribute? Tribute in the ancient world was a formal system of not just rendering gifts but rendering honor and recognition. When a king exacted tribute he did so not because he wanted to enrich himself, because to pay tribute is not just to transfer wealth.

To pay tribute is to acknowledge that the one you are paying is your true ruler, the one to whom you owe your allegiance and who in turn pledges you his protection and aid. Genuine tribute is not extortion but the free rendering of service to someone you recognize as worthy of your devotion. This is why Matthew says the wise men told Herod they intended to “worship” the new king and upon finally finding him at the end of their long journey they “fell down and worshipped.”

We talk a lot here at the Advent about worship. We take pride in how we worship here. We claim that worship is important to us. And so it is. But what is it at its most basic level? To worship just is this. It is what the wise men do. To worship is to pay homage, to render tribute, to the one who is worthy of it and to offer the worthy one whatever gift and service you have to bring. For Matthew, the wise men from the East are Christ’s first and perhaps exemplary worshippers.

Matthew describes the worship of the wise men in terms that are simple, direct, and powerful. Grammatically in the Greek there is a strict parallelism between the essential phrases of our Gospel reading’s final verses: “1.) they fell down and worshiped him… 2.) they offered him gifts… 3.) they departed.”

In three potent phrases we get a summary of what it means to worship. To fall down, to offer gifts, and ultimately to depart. These actions of the wise men can be read as the very actions of all formal worship. If we are to worship as they did, then we too must fall down before the one whom we know is our king; we must offer him whatever gift we have; and when our time comes we must depart from our service.

I said a few minutes ago that with Epiphany the Christmas season comes to a close.

Well, another season is coming to a close in the life of this parish. Today is the last day that our beloved rector of many years, Allan Warren, will celebrate the mass for and with us.

And though he is horrified to have a fuss made over him in any way, I cannot let this moment pass by without comment.

I have said that what we learn from the wise men is what it means to worship the Lord Jesus Christ, and I want to add to that my conviction that what we in this place have learned from Fr. Warren is above all else nothing other than that very same thing—how rightly to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

Worship has been the beating heart in the life of this parish for as long as he has been our leader and example.

I know because it was at this time of year Roxy and I first set foot in the Advent, January 2006, 13 years ago.

It was blindingly obvious to us from the second we walked through the door that here Jesus Christ was adored and worshipped as Lord, that here in this holy place you could do no other than to fall down before him and to offer him your every gift.

That call to worship was palpable—even irresistible—in no small measure because of the man whose words and deeds, whose powerful Gospel preaching and reverent celebration of the liturgy, issued that call to worship.

Allan Warren has spent his life and worshipping, and leading others in worshipping, the Lord Jesus Christ.

He has offered his king every gift he possesses.

And now it is his time to depart from among us.

And so this is my tribute. I expect it is yours too. It is the highest honor we can pay him.

And yet I know he would be the first to say that neither I nor we owe anything to him because of who he is but that all our tribute—all honor, all praise, all glory, every gift we have to offer—goes to the Lord Jesus Christ who alone is worthy.

Amen.

Collect for the Feast of the Epiphany

O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know thee now by faith, to thy presence, where we may behold thy glory face to face; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.