Collect for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

O Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men: Grant unto thy people that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Collect for the season: 

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

This Week at the Advent, April 7-13, 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.

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

A Coffee Hour following each service is held in Moseley Hall, reached through the side door at the back of the church. A lift is available for anyone who needs it.

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


9:00 Coffee Hour: Judy Bell & Fran Piscitelli and Cassie & Jack Gurnon host today. Next week is Palm Sunday and there is no Coffee Hour. New 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.

Today, Ellie Kiernan, along with some from her local Girl Scout troop, will share information about their Silver Award Community project. They are building community awareness about the work of the Wonderfund, a Boston nonprofit established by First Lady Laura Baker that helps children whose families are served by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF). (For more details, visit www.wonderfundma.org.) We hope you will say hello to Ellie and her friends, and ask them about their Silver Award work.

11:15 Coffee Hour: Kyle Pilares, Brian Sirman and Thiago Rêgo host today. Next week is Palm Sunday and there is no Coffee Hour. We are always in need of more volunteers; to view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com) or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com) or Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com). 


Entr’acte (following the 9 am Mass, in the library): Fr. Hanson and parishioner John Ferrillo conclude their study of Fleming Rutledge’s magisterial work The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ.


THIS WEEK


The Wednesday Bible Study, which meets at 10 am in the library, is beginning a study of the epistles of James, Peter, and Jude.


The Lenten Theology Study of The Book of Homilies: A Preached Orthodoxy concludes this Wednesday  at 7 pm in the library. For more information please contact Eric at efialho@eds.edu.


On Thursdays during Lent, at 6 pm, the devotions of The Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be offered in the church. The Stations of the Cross is a series of meditations on the Passion, the Crucifixion and the Death of Jesus leading to His burial in the tomb. Many Christians through the ages have found The Stations an aid in focussing their Lenten prayers. Some take on this form of devotion as a part of their Lenten disciplines. At Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, we meditate on Our Lord’s Risen Presence with us in the Blessed Sacrament, which flows from his atoning and sacrificial death. He had to die in order that we might live with and in Him. That is a truth we think and pray about during the holy season. Stations and Benediction are helpful means to that end. Consider making it a part of your week.


COMING UP


MONDAY COMMUNITY GROUPS: Community Groups at the Advent are the best way for new and long-standing parishioners to meet and come to know true Christian fellowship. A new group will be meeting twice monthly on Monday evenings at different locations in the vicinity of university campuses in Cambridge and Boston. The purpose of the group is to provide members and potential members with opportunities to better get to know one another and enjoy time for friendship, prayer, education and recreation.

 The first gathering will take place this Monday, April 8 at 7 pm, at the home of John Ross Campbell, 471 Memorial Drive, Apt. 1279, Cambridge. We will be having a conversation about the focus of the group as well as activities we would like to do over the next months. All are welcome! Please RSVP to John Ross at jrcamp@mit.edu; he can also provide directions to his home. For any additional questions, contact Fr James.


Can you help the parish Flower Guild?

Preparing the floral decorations for Easter would be utterly impossible without reinforcements from outside the flower guild. Please join us if you can on any or all of the following days:

  • Maundy Thursday, April 18, 10 am–noon and/or 1–3:30 pm.
  • Holy Saturday, April 20, 10 am to 4 pm — please try to arrive by 11 am, but you do not have to stay all afternoon; even an hour or two is helpful.
  • Saturday April 27, 10:30 am (Post-Easter cleanup)

You do not need to have any flower arranging skills; if you can carry a bucket, climb a stepladder, use a broom, or fill a trash bag, we can use you! And if you like flowers but have never made an arrangement, this is a great chance to learn some basic techniques. Help is especially needed on Saturday, April 20.

ALSO: There is an opening for flower memorials or thanksgivings for the High Altar on Sunday, April 28. If you are interested, please contact Jim in the church office.


SPECIAL EVENTS FOR TODDLERS TO TEENAGERS: We ask that parents please take note and mark in their calendars the following events, which will strengthen and enhance our ministry to our young people:

  • Easter Day, we will hold our Easter Egg Hunt following the 9 am Mass in the parish garden, and “resurrect” all the buried Alleluias from the beginning of Lent.
  • On Saturday, April 27 the Middle School and High School students will attend the Presiding Bishop’s Jamboree from 1:30 to 3:00 at the Cathedral. We will meet at 1 pm that Saturday and walk to the Cathedral together.
  • Also at the Cathedral, the parishioners who are prepared for Confirmation (see below) will be confirmed by Bishop Gates on Saturday, June 15 at 10:30 am.

In honor of Saint Francis, on Sunday, October 6, the children will be able to enjoy a petting zoo that morning and bring their animal friends to the church that afternoon for our Blessing of Pets.


Adult Confirmation Class scheduled. It is expected that all adult members of this Church, after appropriate instruction, will have made a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and will have been confirmed or received by the laying on of hands by a Bishop of this Church or by a Bishop of a Church in full communion with this Church. In keeping with the National Canons of The Episcopal Church, we are offering Confirmation Classes beginning after Easter. Classes have been scheduled for any adults (16 years and older) who are desirous of Confirmation or Reception into The Episcopal Church. The classes are scheduled for Wednesday evenings May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5 and 12, following the Healing Mass at 6:00 pm.


THEOLOGY ON TAP returns on Tuesday, April 30 at 7 pm in the Lower Bar at MAST Restaurant and Drinkery, 45 Province Street, Boston. Tyler VanderWeele will speak on “Religious Communities and Human Flourishing.” Dr VanderWeele is director of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard, which among other things studies how religious communities affect health, happiness, meaning and purpose, and close social relationships. Theology on Tap is preceded by Evening Prayer at 5:30 pm at the Advent. For more information, contact Fr Hanson.


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

By the end of the week, I was sad to be leaving all the new friends I had made at the Conference. I couldn’t believe that the week had gone by so fast. I had learned so many new things at the Conference that I knew would be valuable life lessons, but most of all I had learned to never judge something without knowing what it is like. This is what Harriet Lewis-Bowen told us about her time spent last summer at Saint Michael’s Conference. 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.


ODDS & ENDS


Parishioner and former music librarian Ivan Hansen is offering his vast collection of record albums, CDs, and books to fellow Adventers. You will find this treasure trove in the Library; please help yourself to the items that most appeal — it might be wise to bring a tote bag — and be sure to let Ivan know how much you appreciate his generosity! His address: 81 Phillips St., Boston, 02114.


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.

NOTE: If you will be needing parking vouchers for Holy Week, please plan on purchasing them TODAY, since there is no coffee hour on Palm Sunday.


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.

In 1865, the average daily weekday attendance was twenty-six persons, but during Lent the average daily attendance rose to 126.

Passiontide Mass in the 1930s
Passiontide Mass in the 1930s

This, please God, will be our thirteenth Lent together, as Rector and people. What note shall sound most clearly in the harmony of our observance? In 1910, we praised God because of His Word; in 1911, we strove for greater charity; in 1912, we desired to know ourselves better; in 1913, we consecrated our intellects to loving God with all our minds; and in 1914 we begged for more of the spirit of Worship and Praise. Every Lent shows us the need of all these: but this year, when the whole world echoes with the groans and lamentations of such anguish as has seldom been known before, I bid you undertake even more earnestly than your wont the fruitful labor of intercession… Men are ready enough to join in material benevolences; and surely they are needed, in these days of wicked and wanton destruction, when Belgium, Poland, and Northern France are laid waste and their people starve, except for the bounty of others less afflicted. You have responded splendidly to our appeals for them. Bur their cause is with the Most High, and our intercessions for those who suffer accomplish far more than our gifts, if they accompany the giving. All the other needs of mankind call to us for succour; and though we may be unable to help much in what are called “practical” ways by those who do not remember the power of prayer, we can intercede with the Giver of every good and perfect gift, confident that He will hear and answer… Let us have, then, a Lent of Intercessions,with our self-denial turned into helpful channels. The Belgian flag flying above the alms-chest will remind you of those who are in greatest need and those whose silent appeal is most eloquent; but we must remember the other who hunger and freeze and wander desolate. Give up altogether for the holy season such luxuries as you may perhaps lawfully use at other times, and turn over what you save to God’s Cause and God’s Poor. Find your way daily to the Habitation of God’s House; and come at least once a week to the Table of the Lord. Above all, love much: love God, love your friends, love your enemies; love God’s Church and all that pertains to her; love the Truth and Peace. And the very God of Peace be with you through the Forty Days and ever.
— The Rev’d William Harman van Allen,
rector, 1902-1929; “A Lent Letter,” 1915

Words cannot contain the mystery of the cross. They serve their purpose when they bring us to our knees. Only in worship will we discover the depth of God’s love. Attend the Holy Week services, therefore, including Saturday, please. By worship, meditation, and fasting, you will be prepared to sing with joy the joy of the first Christians on Easter morning.
— The Rev’d Samuel J. Wiley,
rector, 1960–1966;
“The Message,” 1962.
(The Saturday service consisted of Blessing of the Paschal Candle; Solemn Evensong, and Holy Baptism.)

Lent calls us to greater devotion and self-discipline. Most of us are too busy or disorganized to fit many spiritual exercises into our regular routine. The Church wisely recognizes our frailty and says, “Why not try to put a little more effort into the devotional life for six weeks? When Easter comes, you can relax gratefully into your former indifference. Why not give us some time for this short period?”
— The Rev’d Richard Holloway, rector, 1980–1984;
The Beacon, February 1981


Holy Week Service Schedule

Childcare will be available at all Holy Week services. Caregivers arrive by 6:15 pm and will be in nursery space adjacent to the parish office. Contact Meg Nelson at megwnelson@gmail.com with questions or concerns.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
April 8-14, 2019

Monday, April 8

Tuesday, April 9
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, April 10
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Lenten Theology Study
7:00 pm: Bell Ringing

Thursday, April 11
6:00 pm: Stations of the Cross & Benediction
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, April 12
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, April 13
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal
12:00 noon: Acolyte Rehearsal

Sunday, April 14
Palm Sunday
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Blessing & Distribution of Palms & Low Mass
9:00 am: Blessing & Distribution of Palms, Procession & Sung Mass
10:15 am: Church School / Childcare
11:15 am: Blessing & Distribution of Palms, Procession & Solemn Mass
8:00 pm: Passiontide Compline

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Dr Jeffrey A. Hanson at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, March 31, 2019, the Fourth Sunday in Lent

At the center of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle’s most famous book on ethics is a memorable portrait of a guy that he thinks is the perfect man. This fellow that Aristotle describes is brave, self-controlled, noble, rich, generous with his friends, openly scornful of his enemies—his deeds are few but impressive. So detailed is Aristotle’s description of this ideal man that he even says of him that he has a deep voice and his way of walking is measured and unhurried.

When teaching this portrait of Aristotle’s perfect person to students, they often find this last detail a little puzzling. Why would Aristotle’s ideal man be known for measured and unhurried walking? Why would that matter?

To explain this I would simply say, “Well, did you ever see a grown man running to catch a bus?” “Wait… Stop… Wait for me…” No. No, that will not do.

No, Aristotle’s perfect man never rushes because he is grave and dignified, and running pell-mell is undignified.

Something else I try to get students to understand is that Aristotle’s vision of the perfect person is in many ways quite unlike the Christian ideal. We see this difference plainly in today’s Gospel reading because the very center of the story of the so-called prodigal son is a totally undignified act.

This most familiar of our Lord’s parables is unique to Luke, and it’s very much worth our careful study and particularly so on this Sunday, Rose Sunday, when we mark a crucial shift in the season of Lent.

We know the setup: The younger of two sons asks his father for his share of the inheritance. This is an impertinent—even insulting—request. Normally in ancient Near Eastern cultures a man’s inheritance is only endowed on his heirs when he is dead. And even when he is alive he still retains his right over its expenditure.

But the younger son doesn’t respect these norms and abandons his family and his homeland, a virtually unthinkable act of desertion.

Because he has cut all ties with family he ends up helpless and alone when he is in need. Having squandered everything he took from his father and being exposed to famine in desperation he works the most degrading possible job for an observant Jew: pigs are unclean, and yet there he is so close to starvation that he is envious of these filthy creatures’ slop. This is what we nowadays call hitting rock bottom. The younger son has nothing, and he has no one to help him.

So he decides—in a word—to repent. “I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”’

This is what repentance looks like to our Lord’s audience. He is speaking in chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel to the Pharisees and the scribes. And as far as they are concerned, this is the perfect way to end this story.

Because the younger son’s gesture of repentance is exactly what the Pharisees would approve of. Repentance according to the religious authorities of the day requires us, as the younger son does, to “come to ourselves” and realize that our situation needs fixing. Repentance means confessing that we are not worthy and offering to make restitution.

And this offer to be one of his father’s hired servants is one that a sober, dignified ancient Near Eastern paterfamilias would be tempted to take quite seriously. Maybe the boy has learned his lesson. If he goes to work here in the household then he can earn back some trust. If he sticks it out as a hired servant for a while then his father will know that he really is sorry. And the money he makes can pay back the father for all the wealth he squandered. From the son’s perspective, repentance is a smart move.

And from the father’s perspective accepting that repentance makes good sense too. It restores the father’s honor. It allows him to recover from his son’s insult. It is a dignified solution to an embarrassing family problem.

But the father is not that dignified. What is he? According to verse 20, he is compassionate. And that compassion drives him to drop all dignity. He is not measured and unhurried. He runs. He runs to his child, he runs for compassion, he runs with joy, and he flings his arms around his son’s neck and kisses him.

God is not waiting around for us to show up shame-faced looking for a handout. God doesn’t want us to work off our debt or earn our way back into his good graces.

The Father sees us coming while we are still far off. How does he do that when we are still far off? Because he’s looking for us. He’s actively looking and longing for us, and when he sees us he comes running to welcome us home.

And yes, it’s important that we come to God in repentance, but notice that in the story the younger son doesn’t even get to finish his carefully rehearsed speech. There is no question of becoming a hired servant because repentance cannot earn back relationship with God, that relationship that we have so foolishly spurned.

Relationship with God can only be restored as a free gift from our heavenly Father, one he is eager to give.

This story marks a shift in Lent, as I said. This Sunday, Rose Sunday, is when we shift our attention from our individual repentance, our fasting and self-denial, to a shared anticipation of the coming Great Feast of Easter.

There are two proper prefaces for Lent; the first you have already heard on this season’s past Sundays—it focuses on the temptation of our Lord, how he was tested as we are and yet did not sin.

Today the celebrant will say a different proper preface; this one calls us to prepare with joy for the Paschal Feast.

And the familiar story of the younger son and his compassionate father ends with a feast. The feast is in celebration of nothing less than the younger son’s passage from death to life. And in the same way our Easter feast is in celebration of our Lord’s rising from death to life, which in turn causes us to celebrate our baptism into Christ’s death and rising to new life in him.

This is the good news that awaits us. But not everyone is happy about it. The older son, not without some reason even, is upset that there is a feast at all. He has been at work in the field all day, and nobody has brought him the news. Awkward… He declines to rush with the same joy as his father. He even refuses to his father’s face and in front of the guests to go in to the house, an insult almost as grave as the younger brother’s. He puts the worst possible construction on his younger brother’s activities while away from home, complains that he has never been treated as well by his father, pleads not for his family but for his friends, and generally fails to see the truth that his father reassuringly speaks to him: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive.”

Intriguingly this parable ends in suspense: What will the older brother do? Will he join the feast as well? Or will he remain sulking outside?

Our Lord I believe leaves the choice to those who are listening to him. We are hearing him, and we have a choice to make. And who else is his audience, besides us I mean? As I said it is the Pharisees and the scribes; they have a choice to make too. We know this because Luke tells us so at the very opening of chapter 15. And what are the Pharisees and scribes doing? They are not just listening to Jesus; they are murmuring against Jesus.

They are complaining and sulking and in a totally dignified manner I am sure holding themselves aloft and refusing to join in what Jesus is doing because as Luke tells us “the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to Jesus.” Sinners. I’m sure they found that outrageous. A crowd of sinners gathered together to hear the words of Jesus was probably really undignified. And because the tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to him the Pharisees said of Jesus, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

That’s right. So he did. And so he still does. And he tells us this story to show us why. This parable shows us what God’s attitude toward sinners really is: God sees sinners far off and runs to them. He wraps his arms around them and kisses them. And he invites them to a celebratory feast.

The Great Feast of Easter is coming soon. What a shame it would be for us to miss out for any reason. What a shame to be stopped by embarrassment at our past mistakes; to hold on to our stubborn pride; to cling to our sham dignity, and refuse to go in to the house and join in. Sinners of all kinds are invited. Those who are more like the younger brother and those who are more like the older brother. God wants both of them to come into the house.

God does not greet our repentance grudgingly, with cold indifference; God is longing for you to come home; God is eager to receive you with joy no matter how low you have sunk. If we will have it, then all that is God’s is ours too.

So don’t hold back now. It is fitting that we should make merry and be glad.

Amen.

Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which giveth life to the world:  Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Collect for the season: 

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

This Week at the Advent, March 31-April 6, 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.

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

A Coffee Hour following each service is held in Moseley Hall, reached through the side door at the back of the church. A lift is available for anyone who needs it.

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

In order to focus all of our attention on worship, we ask that no electronic devices be used at any of our services. Thank you.


9:00 Coffee Hour: Rob Braman & Rachel Johnson, and Michael & Megan Zadig host today. Next week’s hosts are Judy Bell & Fran Piscitelli and Cassie & Jack Gurmon. 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. Hour: Ciarán Anthony DellaFera and Michael Gnozzio host today. We are always in need of more volunteers; to view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com) or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com) or Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com). 


Today is the Sunday known as Laetare Sunday, the fourth in Lent. The name is taken from the first word of the Introit of the Mass, Laetare, Jerusalem et conventum facite omnes qui dilitis eam…  “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and come together all you that love her…” (Isaiah 66:10). Like Gaudete Sunday in Advent, it is a day on which the fast and discipline of the season are relaxed. 

A sign of this are the flowers on the Altar and in the Church which are permitted today and the rose vestments of the Mass.

The flowers at the high altar today are given to the glory of God and in loving memory of Blenda Jeffry.


Entr’acte (following the 9 am Mass, in the library): Fr. Hanson and parishioner John Ferrillo continue their study of Fleming Rutledge’s magisterial work The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. Discussions focus on not just why our Lord had to die but why he had to die in the way he did. Mrs. Rutledge’s work is a careful and sensitive study of this question that lies at the heart of our faith. This topic is particularly appropriate for Lent, as we prepare ourselves for Good Friday, the meaning of which is bound to become much clearer and more deeply felt as a result of a study of Mrs. Rutledge’s book. This series concludes next Sunday.


THIS WEEK


SATURDAY: This year’s Lenten Quiet Day will be led by the Rev. Canon William Parnell, Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Massachusetts. Canon Parnell will offer seasonal reflections, which will be interspersed with time for prayer and silence. Lunch will be offered. The day begins at 9:30 am with coffee and ends at 3pm. If you have not already registered, please see Deacon Noyes today.


LENTEN THEOLOGY STUDY. The Book of Homilies: A Preached Orthodoxy. 
Wednesdays, March 13 – April 10 at 7:00 pm in the Library

Ever wonder what the early uniquely Anglican texts of theology are? The Book of Homilies provided an orthodox lens through which laity and clergy alike could understand the doctrines and beliefs of the denomination. Pastoral Assistant Eric Fialho will lead this exciting five-week theology course. Several 16th-century homilies will be examined and scrutinized in an attempt to better understand and define early Anglican identity and belief, and its impact on the Church today. All are most welcome to attend! For more information please contact Eric soon at efialho@eds.edu.


On Thursdays during Lent, at 6 pm, the devotions of The Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be offered in the church. The Stations of the Cross is a series of meditations on the Passion, the Crucifixion and the Death of Jesus leading to His burial in the tomb. Many Christians through the ages have found The Stations an aid in focussing their Lenten prayers. Some take on this form of devotion as a part of their Lenten disciplines. At Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, we meditate on Our Lord’s Risen Presence with us in the Blessed Sacrament, which flows from his atoning and sacrificial death. He had to die in order that we might live with and in Him. That is a truth we think and pray about during the holy season. Stations and Benediction are helpful means to that end. Consider making it a part of your week.


COMING UP


MONDAY COMMUNITY GROUPS: Community Groups at the Advent are the best way for new and long-standing parishioners to meet and come to know true Christian fellowship. A new group will be meeting twice monthly on Monday evenings at different locations in the vicinity of university campuses in Cambridge and Boston. The purpose of the group is to provide members and potential members with opportunities to better get to know one another and enjoy time for friendship, prayer, education and recreation.

 The first gathering will take place on April 8 at 7 pm, at the home of John Ross Campbell, 471 Memorial Drive, Apt. 1279, Cambridge. We will be having a conversation about the focus of the group as well as activities we would like to do over the next months. All are welcome! Please RSVP to John Ross at jrcamp@mit.edu; he can also provide directions to his home. For any additional questions, contact Fr James.


Can you help the parish Flower Guild?

Preparing the floral decorations for Easter would be utterly impossible without reinforcements from outside the flower guild. Please join us if you can on any or all of the following days:

  • Maundy Thursday, April 18, 10 am–noon and/or 1–3:30 pm.
  • Holy Saturday, April 20, 10 am to 4 pm — please try to arrive by 11 am, but you do not have to stay all afternoon; even an hour or two is helpful.
  • Saturday April 27, 10:30 am (Post-Easter cleanup)

You do not need to have any flower arranging skills; if you can carry a bucket, climb a stepladder, use a broom, or fill a trash bag, we can use you! And if you like flowers but have never made an arrangement, this is a great chance to learn some basic techniques. Help is especially needed on Saturday, April 20.


SPECIAL EVENTS FOR TODDLERS TO TEENAGERS: We ask that parents please take note and mark in their calendars the following events, which will strengthen and enhance our ministry to our young people:

  • Easter Day, we will hold our Easter Egg Hunt following the 9 am Mass in the parish garden, and “resurrect” all the buried Alleluias from the beginning of Lent.
  • On Saturday, April 27 the Middle School and High School students will attend the Presiding Bishop’s Jamboree from 1:30 to 3:00 at the Cathedral. We will meet at 1 pm that Saturday and walk to the Cathedral together.
  • Also at the Cathedral, the parishioners who are prepared for Confirmation (see below) will be confirmed by Bishop Gates on Saturday, June 15 at 10:30 am.

In honor of Saint Francis, on Sunday, October 6, the children will be able to enjoy a petting zoo that morning and bring their animal friends to the church that afternoon for our Blessing of Pets.


Adult Confirmation Class scheduled. It is expected that all adult members of this Church, after appropriate instruction, will have made a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and will have been confirmed or received by the laying on of hands by a Bishop of this Church or by a Bishop of a Church in full communion with this Church. In keeping with the National Canons of The Episcopal Church, we are offering Confirmation Classes beginning after Easter. Classes have been scheduled for any adults (16 years and older) who are desirous of Confirmation or Reception into The Episcopal Church. The classes are scheduled for Wednesday evenings May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5 and 12, following the Healing Mass at 6:00 pm.


THEOLOGY ON TAP returns on Tuesday, April 30 at 7 pm in the Lower Bar at MAST Restaurant and Drinkery, 45 Province Street, Boston. Tyler VanderWeele will speak on “Religious Communities and Human Flourishing.” Dr VanderWeele is director of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard, which among other things studies how religious communities affect health, happiness, meaning and purpose, and close social relationships. Theology on Tap is preceded by Evening Prayer at 5:30 pm at the Advent. For more information, contact Fr Hanson


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

By the end of the week, I was sad to be leaving all the new friends I had made at the Conference. I couldn’t believe that the week had gone by so fast. I had learned so many new things at the Conference that I knew would be valuable life lessons, but most of all I had learned to never judge something without knowing what it is like. This is what Harriet Lewis-Bowen told us about her time spent last summer at Saint Michael’s Conference. 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.


ODDS & ENDS


Parish Workday: On Saturday, March 23, a hearty crew picked up, straightened up, cleaned out, cleaned up, scrubbed, swept, dusted, shined, polished, organized, tossed, rescued, and gave about 40 hours combined TLC to the beautiful building that houses our community. Thanks to all who participated!


Parishioner and former music librarian Ivan Hansen is offering his vast collection of record albums, CDs, and books to fellow Adventers. You will find this treasure trove in the Library; please help yourself to the items that most appeal — it might be wise to bring a tote bag — and be sure to let Ivan know how much you appreciate his generosity! His address: 81 Phillips St., Boston, 02114.


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. NOTE: If you will be needing parking vouchers for Holy Week, please plan on purchasing them on April 7, or before, since there is no coffee hour on Palm Sunday.


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 Rev. Dr. James A. Bolles, rector from 1859 to 1870, initiated both daily Mass and a vested choir. Some people objected to the vested choir, declaring they would leave the parish if Bolles carried out this intent. Undeterred, he announced in print that on the next All Saints Day the choir would be surpliced. In “The Beginnings of a Parish: A Paper read before the Men‘s Guild of the Church of the Advent, December 31, 1925,” George O. G. Coale reminisces, “The choir first appeared in surplices in Dr. Bolles’ day, and wonderful they were — very full circular capes of linen reaching to the ankles or below and open in the front, with a large black Oxford tie at the neck. They had no sleeves, but the sides were folded up upon the outstretched arms of the wearer and therefore he was obliged to hold his fore-arms horizontally in front of him for fear he would become sleeveless and his arms become helpless for the rest of the service. This was a cause of constant anxiety. Cassocks were not worn.”


Holy Week Service Schedule

Childcare will be available at all Holy Week services. Caregivers arrive by 6:15 pm and will be in nursery space adjacent to the parish office. Contact Meg Nelson at megwnelson@gmail.com with questions or concerns.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
April 1-7, 2019

Monday, April 1

Tuesday, April 2
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, April 3
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Lenten Theology Study
7:00 pm: Bell Ringing

Thursday, April 4
6:00 pm: Stations of the Cross & Benediction
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, April 5
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, April 6
9:30 am: Lenten Quiet Day
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Sunday, April 7
The Fifth Sunday in Lent
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Litany in Procession & Sung Mass
10:15 am: Church School / Childcare / Entr’acte
11:15 am: Litany in Procession & Solemn Mass

Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent

Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for the season: 

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

This Week at the Advent, March 24-30, 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.

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

A Coffee Hour following each service is held in Moseley Hall, reached through the side door at the back of the church. A lift is available for anyone who needs it.

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


9:00 Coffee Hour: Bette Boughton and Jonnet Holladay host today. Next week’s hosts are Rob Braman & Rachel Johnson, and Mike & Megan Zadig. New coffee hour hosts are always needed; please contact Barbara Boles by email, bbolesster@gmail.com or telephone (617-501-7572) if you’re interested or have questions about what is entailed.

11:15 Coffee Hour. Philip & Kara Rodgers Marshall, and Xander Mojarrab host today. We are always in need of more volunteers; to view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please go to http://theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/.  If you have any questions, please contact Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com), Roxy Hanson (roxenewu@yahoo.com) or Kyle Pilares (kpilares.uk@gmail.com) or Betsy James (ejames4@nc.rr.com). 


This morning we welcome the Venerable Christiaan A. Beukman, who, in his role as archdeacon, is in the process of visiting deacons in their parishes. He will vest and process in the 9 am and 11:15 am services. Beukman is a native of the Netherlands who moved to the Boston area in 1981 after meeting his wife, Lucy, in Jerusalem. Since 2004, he has been the pastoral ministries manager of Linden Ponds Retirement Community in Hingham. He was ordained a deacon in 2009 and has served parishes in Quincy, Walpole and Franklin.


Entr’acte (following the 9 am Mass, in the library): Fr. Hanson and parishioner John Ferrillo continue their four-week study of Fleming Rutledge’s magisterial work The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. Our discussions will focus on not just why our Lord had to die but why he had to die in the way he did. Mrs. Rutledge’s work is a careful and sensitive study of this question that lies at the heart of our faith. With scholarly rigor and pastoral concern she explicates the various controversial issues surrounding the crucifixion, arguing powerfully that the crucifixion of Christ is the central act in the drama of salvation undertaken by the undivided Holy Trinity that atones for sin, sets right the injustice of the world, and secures the final eschatological victory of God over all. This topic is particularly appropriate for Lent, as we prepare ourselves for Good Friday, the meaning of which is bound to become much clearer and more deeply felt as a result of a study of Dr. Rutledge’s book.


Another ceremonial note from Fr. Welch:

After weeks of experimentation, I’ve decided that it would work best if I continue to do a profound bow when I’m the celebrant at mass and everyone else genuflects. Last Sunday some people were bowing, some genuflecting, and some doing something awkwardly in between.

Many years ago, when Fr Richard Cornish Martin was Interim, Fr Martin, an elderly gentleman like myself and also incapable of a real genuflection, would bow and others would genuflect. So this arrangement has the weight of tradition behind it, which, as we all know, is important in a parish like the Advent.


STEWARDSHIP UPDATE

Dear Fellow Advent Parishioners:

On behalf of the Stewardship committee we would like to wish you all a blessed Lenten Season and prayerful preparation for the upcoming sacred and joyful Easter celebration.

We thought it appropriate to give an update to all parishioners at this time with a brief summary of the 2019 Stewardship campaign.

  • First, thank you to everyone who has already sent in their pledges for 2019. Every pledge, no matter the amount, is important, especially in this challenging transition year during the search for our new Rector.
  • We have exceeded the goal of “Plus Ten Percent” set by our Senior Warden Tom Brown and the Vestry. So far we have achieved nearly $570,000 in pledged amount, which is an increase of 12.0% over last year. This is a wonderful and blessed response from Advent parishioners in support of all planned activities necessary to make this transition year a success, laying the foundation for the future well-being of our beloved Church of the Advent. Thank you.
  • Here are a few details: we have received 206 pledges so far; our 31 new pledges prove again our continuing growth as a community in Christ and their pledged amount more than offset the decreased and loss pledge amounts versus last year. The increased pledges were instrumental in “pushing us over the top” in our campaign. Plus, the solid foundation put in place by those parishioners who maintained their level of support this year was another success factor.
  • Once again, on behalf of the Wardens, the Vestry and Stewardship committee, a heartfelt thanks to everyone for your thoughtful consideration and care for the Advent as a place of worship and fellowship in Christ.

For those parishioners who have not yet had the opportunity to make their pledges for 2019, we would like to encourage your consideration to pledge whatever amount possible to support the challenges we collectively face together as the worshipping community of The Advent. It is never too late to step forward and contribute whatever is appropriate for your consideration. Please just send in your pledge by mail or email to the parish office; drop it in the Sunday collection; or submit it via the web site: www.theadventboston.org (click “pledge online”). Or reach out to any Stewardship committee member, Warden, or Vestry member, who will be more than pleased to assist in any way.

All the best to everyone, and we look forward to celebrating with all Advent parishioners the joys of the coming Easter celebration.

Yours in the service of Christ our Savior and Redeemer,
Francesco Piscitelli and Thatcher Gearhart


THIS WEEK


LENTEN THEOLOGY STUDY. The Book of Homilies: A Preached Orthodoxy. 
Wednesdays, March 13 – April 10 at 7:00 pm in the Library

Ever wonder what the early uniquely Anglican texts of theology are? The Book of Homilies provided an orthodox lens through which laity and clergy alike could understand the doctrines and beliefs of the denomination. Pastoral Assistant Eric Fialho will lead this exciting five-week theology course. Several 16th-century homilies will be examined and scrutinized in an attempt to better understand and define early Anglican identity and belief, and its impact on the Church today. All are most welcome to attend! For more information please contact Eric soon at efialho@eds.edu.


On Thursdays during Lent, at 6 pm, the devotions of The Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament will be offered in the church. The Stations of the Cross is a series of meditations on the Passion, the Crucifixion and the Death of Jesus leading to His burial in the tomb. Many Christians through the ages have found The Stations an aid in focussing their Lenten prayers. Some take on this form of devotion as a part of their Lenten disciplines. At Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, we meditate on Our Lord’s Risen Presence with us in the Blessed Sacrament, which flows from his atoning and sacrificial death. He had to die in order that we might live with and in Him. That is a truth we think and pray about during the holy season. Stations and Benediction are helpful means to that end. Consider making it a part of your week.


Remember to sign up for the Lenten Quiet Day, April 6. The Rev’d Canon William Parnell, Canon to the Ordinary, will offer seasonal reflections interspersed with time for prayer and contemplation in silence. A light lunch will be served. Please see Deacon Noyes by March 27 to reserve your space; a donation of $10 is suggested. Or register through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lenten-quiet-day-tickets-58574234111


COMING UP


Can you help the parish Flower Guild?

Preparing the floral decorations for Easter would be utterly impossible without reinforcements from outside the flower guild. Please join us if you can on any or all of the following days:

  • Maundy Thursday, April 18, 10 am–noon and/or 1–3:30 pm.
  • Holy Saturday, April 20, 10 am to 4 pm — please try to arrive by 11 am, but you do not have to stay all afternoon; even an hour or two is helpful.
  • Saturday April 27, 10:30 am (Post-Easter cleanup)

You do not need to have any flower arranging skills; if you can carry a bucket, climb a stepladder, use a broom, or fill a trash bag, we can use you! And if you like flowers but have never made an arrangement, this is a great chance to learn some basic techniques. Help is especially needed on Saturday, April 20.


COME JOIN THE JAMBOREE! We are calling all middle school and high school young people in the parish to join us when we go to The Presiding Bishop’s Jamboree with Youth on Saturday, April 27th from 1:30 to 3 pm at our Cathedral, on Tremont Street. The Most Reverend Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, wants to hear what our young people’s hopes and dreams are for the Church and he wants to share with them his invitation and challenge to them. A full description of Bishop Curry’s visit can be found online at diomass.org/pb-visit.

We will meet here at The Advent at 1:00 and walk across the Common to the Cathedral and return here at 3:30 to be picked up for our rides home. We need to have the names of persons to register so as quickly as you can, please contact Carolyn Shadid-Lewis at 617-460-9886 or carolynshadid@gmail.com and let her know if you will be coming with us. You may also contact Father James for information.


Adult Confirmation Class scheduled. It is expected that all adult members of this Church, after appropriate instruction, will have made a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and will have been confirmed or received by the laying on of hands by a Bishop of this Church or by a Bishop of a Church in full communion with this Church. In keeping with the National Canons of The Episcopal Church, we are offering Confirmation Classes beginning after Easter. Classes have been scheduled for any adults (16 years and older) who are desirous of Confirmation or Reception into The Episcopal Church. The classes are scheduled for Wednesday evenings May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5 and 12, following the Healing Mass at 6:00 pm.


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

By the end of the week, I was sad to be leaving all the new friends I had made at the Conference. I couldn’t believe that the week had gone by so fast. I had learned so many new things at the Conference that I knew would be valuable life lessons, but most of all I had learned to never judge something without knowing what it is like. This is what Harriet Lewis-Bowen told us about her time spent last summer at Saint Michael’s Conference. 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.


ODDS & ENDS


BOOKS: There are two bookcases of books in the southeast corner of the Library that were part of the Parish library, now long out of service. They are mostly books on theology and history of the Oxford Movement that are somewhat dated. Many of them are in fair to poor condition. You are welcome to inspect these books and take home ones that interest you. We do not need them back. We have retained books that were deemed to be of historic importance, but if you spot something you think we should keep, please bring it to the office.


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.


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.

“Our place of worship was thronged, the music was delightful, the congregation manifesting that engagedness in the worship which is contagious, and distinguishes us from any congregation in the city” — William Croswell, rector, 1844–1851, describing service of November 23, 1845.
From A History of the Church of the Advent by Betty Hughes Morris (1995).


Holy Week Service Schedule

Childcare will be available at all Holy Week services. Caregivers arrive by 6:15 pm and will be in nursery space adjacent to the parish office. Contact Meg Nelson at megwnelson@gmail.com with questions or concerns.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT
March 25-31, 2019

Monday, March 25
The Annunciation of Our Lord

Tuesday, March 26
6:00 pm: Community Supper

Wednesday, March 27
10:00 am: Bible Study
6:00 pm: Healing Mass
7:00 pm: Lenten Theology Study
7:00 pm: Bell Ringing

Thursday, March 28
6:00 pm: Stations of the Cross & Benediction
7:00 pm: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Friday, March 29
11:30 am: Rosary

Saturday, March 30
10:00 am: Advent Choir Rehearsal

Sunday, March 31
The Fourth Sunday in Lent
7:30 am: Morning Prayer
8:00 am: Low Mass
9:00 am: Sung Mass
10:15 am: Church School / Childcare / Entr’acte
11:15 am: Solemn Mass

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Jay C. James at the Church of the Advent, March 17, 2019, the Second Sunday in Lent

But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?  It’s a question we have thought about at different periods in our lives.  What are the factors you consider when choosing where to live? Do you prefer urban, suburban or rural settings?  Maybe you would choose to live where you feel most connected; near family or friends, or like one of us here at The Advent, near our spiritual home.  

In a spiritual sense for Christians it is heaven.  That is where God made us to be.  That is where God calls all faithful Christians to be.  I find that even those who are agnostic about belief in God, and I have met some self-proclaimed atheists, who have shared that they experience some sense of a  longing for a place where peace of heart and mind exist. There is something in us that just longs for a home. Saint Paul is crystal clear in his letter to the Philippians about where the Christian’s true desire and longing should be: “…our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.”  

When I think of places I want to live and the body politic that would suit me, I always think that it would be nice to live, not in just a state, but in a commonwealth.  Four constituent parts of our republic purposely choose in their constitutions to conduct their political affairs as commonwealths: our own Massachusetts along with Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Virginia.  “Commonwealth” has the ring of existing for the common good. ‘common’-the public and ‘wealth’ -that used to mean ‘one’s well-being’. to be wealthy meant sound, healthy, and good, not how much money one had amassed.  So commonwealth is concerned with the public’s well-being. I like that. It has more of a spiritual grounding to it than belonging to the more secular-sounding “state”. There is more of an emphasis on the goodness or common good of all.  

This commonwealth, this citizenship for Christians has us as members of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.  Establishing that kingdom is the reason Jesus is determined to get to Jerusalem as we see in today’s Gospel. Jesus is teaching how pressing it is to get into the kingdom and be saved. How earnest one’s determination ought to be to get into the kingdom and that it will be surprising who become members or citizens of the  Kingdom.

I think this necessity of membership and the prominent place of the Kingdom of God is emphasized by Saint Luke.  We just need to look at what Saint Luke writes just before and just after today’s description of entering by the narrow door and Jesus’ message to Herod and Jerusalem.    Just before, we have Jesus calling all offenders to repent before they perish, then he purposely heals a woman on the Sabbath as if to say this is what happens in the Kingdom of God.  (We are made well.) And then he describes life in the Kingdom as growing like a mustard seed and that the Kingdom grows like leaven in a loaf. Then immediately after our three scenes today, Jesus again, right in face of the lawyers and Pharisees, heals again on the Sabbath, and then has two parables of banquets, one at a marriage and one where everyone is invited.   We ought to get the point that the Kingdom of God is the place we should want to live. It is the place Jesus wants to build by getting to Jerusalem and finishing his work.

So how do we get there and who else is there?  When asked “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”  Jesus never answers the question. Jesus’ answer is not numerical, but attitudinal.  Ours is not to know the number making it into the Kingdom, ours is to strive to get to the Kingdom.  This by no means is intended to suggest that any work or effort of our own will get us in. It is only by faith through grace that gets us in.  Our part, according to Jesus, is to “strive” to enter in by the narrow door. Striving in this sense means opening ourselves to an attitude of heart and mind that will prepare us to receive that grace.  Our efforts will not supply the grace. Striving is derived from the Greek agonizomai from where we get the English word agony.  The word originally described those who strain and struggle especially during an athletic contest or during exercise.  It’s an easy connection between that kind of strain and stress to get to agony. We should do whatever we can to be part of the Kingdom.  

In our Lenten disciplines we are attempting the same striving.  Our efforts may not be agonizing in the contemporary sense of the word, but our efforts are aids and helpful exercises to incline our hearts and minds to God.  He supplies the grace to heal us and draw us closer to him. So if you are keeping the communal Lenten discipline drawn up for The Advent, or if you have created your own Lenten disciplines, keep them up.  It is difficult. It is a strain and you are doing the right thing and, by God’s grace, entering and living in the Kingdom of God.

Not only are we to strive for the Kingdom and go through its narrow door, but there will be some surprises when we survey the land and find out who else is there.  Remember Jesus is teaching an almost entirely Jewish audience and tells them that they may be some of the ones who will not get in.

The ones who do not get in will see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob there with all the prophets but the late ones will be thrust out.  Then “men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the Kingdom of God. There will be some surprises about who is in and who is out.  The important part is to make sure the effort is made to get in and the time to start is now.

Being close to Jesus will not count.  Proximity to Jesus will not be enough.  A person may know something about Jesus or talk about him a lot, or may do lots of things that look like something Jesus would do.  None of these actions warrant any merit in the mind of God or help determine entrance into the Kingdom. Remember, the householder shut the door and said, “I do not know where you come from.”  The people plead, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” This is not good enough. The householder will still declare, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!”  Physical proximity will not do it. The listener must be open to Jesus’ teaching and hear it in his heart. Again, the attitude must be one of openness to letting the words form a new person and the longing for the Kingdom must be strenuously pursued.

Jesus loves us so much and it shows openly in his determination to get to Jerusalem and his lament over Jerusalem.  Jesus is going to Jerusalem to perform the greatest acts of love the world has ever known or will ever know. Nothing will stop him from fully establishing the Kingdom of God here in the world by his suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension; not the questioning crowds, not the Pharisees, not Herod, no one.  He shows this love and compassion for Jerusalem itself. He truly wants to care even for all those who reject him and he describes how he would care for them even as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.

To live in the place we are given to live in the Kingdom let Jesus be the narrow door.  He has given us himself as the way to be greeted by the host at the heavenly banquet. And when he welcomes us it will be in a place where there is comfort, joy, and eternal bliss.  Where would you like to live? That sounds like the perfect place.

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