Annual Parish Meeting, January 24, 2016, 10:00 a.m.

Report of the Nominating Committee

Nominations from the Floor

Warrant for the Annual Meeting

Candidate Photos

 

2015 Annual Report: annrep.pdf

The Nominating Committee has proposed the following persons to stand for election to the Vestry at the Annual Meeting on January 24, 2016:

Lynda Blair
Dustin Henderson
Christopher Laconi
David Lapin
Jason Lewis
Virginia Pierce
Nathanael Slater

There are four three-year terms and one year of the late Bruce Webb’s term to be filled.

Also nominated for one-year terms are:

For Clerk:
Frederick Ou

For Treasurer:
Adam Rutledge

Delegates to the Diocesan Convention (and the Boston Harbor Deanery) (two to be elected):

Betsey Ridge Madsen
Julianne Turé

Alternate Delegate (one to be elected):

Robb Scholten

Photographs of the nominees accompanied by statements of their intention to serve are posted in the lobby of Moseley Hall. Photos also appear below.

 

Nominations from the Floor of the Annual Meeting:  The Vestry has adopted a process for nominations from the floor after the Nominating Committee has announced the candidates which it proposes.  Any four members of the Parish can nominate a candidate by filling out and signing a nomination form that gives the name of the nominee and the office to which that person is nominated.  This process does not preclude nominations at the Meeting itself; but it does permit the name of the nominee to appear in print on the ballot.  The Nominating Committee may also adopt such nominees from the floor as part of its proposed slate as well.  If you have any questions about this process, please speak with the Clerk (Christopher Laconi) or his predecessor (C. Thomas Brown), or call the Parish office.  A statement describing qualifications for Officers and Members of the Vestry may be found at the rear of the church.

 

An Important Message From the Clerk:  The Vestry has set the next Annual Meeting of the Parish for Sunday, January 24, 2016.  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 2015 so that you can vote in the January, 2016 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 24, 2016, at 10:00 am.

Faithfully yours,

Christopher Laconi, Clerk

Collect for the First Sunday after the Epiphany

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan didst proclaim him thy beloved Son and anoint him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

This Week’s Announcements – January 10-16, 2016

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, if you will, fill out a visitor’s/newcomer’s card so that we can keep in touch.

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

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

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

11:15 AM – Infant 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 Sarah Connor at 617-480-3017 or by email.

 


TODAY

 9:00 Coffee Hour. Nathan Cleveland and Ray Porter host the Coffee Hour this morning. The hosts next week will be Rob Braman & Rachel Johnson and Nancy Macmillan. New coffee hour hosts are always needed; please contact Barbara Boles by phone, 617-501-7572, or email bbolesster@gmail.com if you’re interested or have questions about what is entailed.

11:15 Coffee Hour. Today, Kara Rodgers hosts the coffee hour. We do not have hosts yet for next week.   We are in need of more volunteers to do the coffee hour. Please contact the Coffee Team to volunteer. To view the schedule of available dates and select a date to co-host, please to to https://www.theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/. If you have any questions, please contact Marcos or Daniel German-Domingues (mrbgd@hotmail.com or DGDomingues@outlook.com) or Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com).

 

Entr’acte resumes this morning after the 9:00 am Mass. Vance Hosford will begin a two-part discussion of Anglo-Catholicism and Church Architecture. That’s in the Library at about 10:20 am. Please try not to be late.

 

Church School: The Advent’s Church School program is a busy and exciting environment for Christian formation for the youngest members of our parish family. Nobody is too young—we even have a class for infants and their parents!—and class offerings run all the way through high school age. Classes happen every week after the 9:00 Mass. After your child goes forward to receive communion or a blessing, all children aged 3 and up head up to class on the 3rd floor of the parish house. Children meet at the doorway to the hall leading upstairs, and they go up to their classrooms as a group. Infants and toddlers (up to age 3) go with their parents to “Beulah Land” in the All Purpose Room just off the Parish Office. Children ages 3 – 6 go up to the 3rd floor and ages 6 – 9 go to the 4th floor for Godly Play, where they’re led in song, story and play as they learn to speak the vocabulary of our church’s rich heritage. Junior High students meet in Moseley Hall to help set up coffee hour, then head up to the Frisby room for class, and High School students meet with Fr Wood. For more information or to sign your child up, contact our Church School Coordinator Sarah Connor at sarahwconnor@gmail.com or 617-480-3017.

 

Our preacher this morning is the Rev’d Phillip Channing Ellsworth, Jr. Fr Ellsworth is Associate Rector of St Francis Episcopal Church in Potomac, Maryland, and the former Associate Rector of St Bartholomew’s Church in New York. He is also, by the way, the father of the Advent’s own Gabriel Ellsworth. Fr Ellsworth is presently on sabbatical and will spend part of that time assisting at the Advent on Sundays and weekdays involved in all the priestly and pastoral ministries of the Parish. We are delighted to welcome him into our Parish family.

 

The Adventurers Culinary Adventure begins today at the Museum of Fine Arts with a lecture about world’s cuisines by Curator Laura Ziman. We’ll be leaving about 1:30 pm today by cab from the Church so all can travel safely. See Ginnie at Coffee Hour to meet up. Laura is really energetic and entertaining. It will be lots of fun.

 

Gift Opportunities: Very good news. To date, we have received funds to pay for the renovation of the Frisby Room upstairs in the Parish House, and a donor has stepped forward and offered to underwrite the renovation of the remarkable West Doors of the Church. A third project remains:

A new High Mass Set and Frontal for Advent.   This is something we need badly.  A minor emergency, one might say.  Recently, our Sacristan showed me that the Advent frontal is deteriorating from the inside, and that the top panel is connected to the frontal itself by torn and rotting cloth.  It is quite beyond repairing.

The High Mass vestments, which in fact do not match the present frontal, have been repaired so many times that we are not going to be able to do this much longer.  Clearly, we need a new set of vestments to go with a new frontal.

And .  .  .  we are, after all, the Church OF the Advent.  We ought to have a High Mass Set and frontal which befits our title and our tradition.

So far we have had several very generous donations to this project, and there has been the promise made of other gifts. At present the cost is uncertain. We will have a better idea when there have been enough donations to know that we have ample money to begin the project and have a specific design created for the set and frontal. —Father Warren  

 


THIS WEEK

Theology on Tap returns this Tuesday, January 12, 2016 with a visit from an old friend, Leah Libresco, whose topic will be:  “Accidental Stylites?:  The Benedict Option and the American Church”.  Lots of people are talking about “the Benedict Option” these days—from the man who coined the phrase (Rod Dreher), to the guys at Mockingbird, to an Anglican who launched a BenOp community in London—but other folks aren’t as familiar with the idea or haven’t considered its consequences.  Leah Libresco has thought about the BenOp, and she thinks it’s easy for Christians today to wind up as “accidental stylites”—living their faith in isolation, going to Church with others, but otherwise finding their spiritual life restricted to private, solitary moments.  She joined us last year to promote her first book, Arriving at Amen:  Seven Catholic Prayers that Even I Can Offer, and we’re delighted she’s agreed to come back!  Come out to the Rattlesnake Bar and bring a friend (or 4) to welcome her back to Boston on January 12 at 7:00 pm.

 

Bible Study Begins—Wednesdays at 10 am—Parish Library—Interested in studying the Bible with others from our parish? Join Fr Wood in the Library on Wednesday mornings at 10 am as we begin a weekly informal Bible study on January 13. “Episcopalians as people of faith share a central conviction about the Bible: that God the Holy Spirit lives and breathes in these pages, and in those who seek with humility and compassion to understand such challenging, ancient texts.” (Roger Ferlo, Opening the Bible, NCTS vol. 2 (Boston: Cowley, 1997): 8.)

 


COMING UP!

Annual Parish Meeting
January 24, 2016, 10:00 AM

The Nominating Committee has proposed the following persons to stand for election to the Vestry at the Annual Meeting on January 24, 2016:

Lynda Blair                                          Jason Lewis

Dustin Henderson                              Virginia Pierce

Christopher Laconi                            Nathaniel Slater

David Lapin

There are four three-year terms and one year of the late Bruce Webb’s term to be filled.

Also nominated for one-year terms are:

For Clerk:                               For Treasurer:

Frederick Ou                                    Adam Rutledge

Delegate to the Diocesan Convention (and the Boston Harbor Deanery)          (two to be elected):

Betsy Ridge Madsen                        Julianne Turé

Alternate Delegates (one to be elected):

Robb Scholten

Photographs of the nominees accompanied by statements of their intention to serve will be posted in the lobby of Moseley Hall.

Nominations from the Floor of the Annual Meeting: The Vestry has adopted a process for nominations from the floor after the Nominating Committee has announced the candidates which it proposes. Any four members of the Parish can nominate a candidate by filling out and signing a nomination form that gives the name of the nominee and the office to which that person is nominated. This process does not preclude nominations at the Meeting itself; but it does permit the name of the nominee to appear in print on the ballot. The Nominating Committee may also adopt such nominees from the floor as part of its proposed slate as well. If you have any questions about this process, please speak with the Clerk (Christopher Laconi) or his predecessor (C. Thomas Brown), or call the Parish office. A statement describing qualifications for Officers and Members of the Vestry may be found at the rear of the church.

An Important Message From the Clerk:  The Vestry has set the next Annual Meeting of the Parish for Sunday, January 24, 2016.  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 2015 so that you can vote in the January, 2016 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 24, 2016, at 10:00 am.

Faithfully yours,

Christopher Laconi, Clerk

 


MISSION & OUTREACH

Volunteers Needed—Missions Opportunity in Dorchester—Fr Edwin Johnson (friend of the parish and a guest preacher for us last year) contacted Peter Madsen for help with a project at St Mary’s church in Dorchester. They need to rework the former fellowship hall, located below the main church, to make it suitable for a new tenant, and the first step is to insulate the windows. Peter has ordered 29 interior storm windows to be delivered in February, and the Advent donated a portion of the purchase price. The vendor’s website suggests that anyone who is handy can install them, so now we’re looking for some volunteers. If you’re interested in joining a team one Saturday this winter, please contact Fr Wood.

 

Welcome to the world, Alma May Ringenberg!—Baby Alma May Ringenberg was born to Rachael and Joe on the night of December 29 coming into the world at 8 pounds, 5 ounces of sweetness! The whole family is doing well, and now we want to show them some Advent loving care! If you can provide a meal to the Ringenbergs, just click http://ow.ly/WITUB to sign up for a specific day, and contact 617.823.7721 or rachael.ringenberg@gmail.com to schedule a delivery. If you find it difficult to deliver a meal yourself, please consider leaving food for them at the church.

 

Thank you for a generous 2015!  Advent parishioners were more active than ever in giving to support the various campaigns our Mission & Outreach Team ran in 2015—winter clothes for One Warm Coat, items for animals at Angell Memorial, school supplies for the Epiphany School, professional clothing through Solutions at Work, baby clothes and diapers for Vincent Newborn Necessities.  All our campaigns are closed for now, and the office isn’t taking any more donations, but the M&O Team want to thank you for making 2015 our most active giving season in recent memory!

 


STEWARDSHIP 2016

Pledge Envelopes for 2016: If you made a pledge for 2016 and requested pledge envelopes, they can be found at the back of the Church on tables in alphabetical order. If you requested envelopes and cannot find them, call the Parish Office at 617-523-2377 ext 122.

 


ODDS & ENDS

The flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish.  There is an opening for a flower memorial or thanksgiving for the High Altar on Sunday, January 24.  If you are interested, please call Blenda Jeffry at 978-443-3519 (email fayej36@yahoo.com)

Discount Vouchers for the Boston Common Garage are available for $9.00 each from Nola Sheffer. You can find her 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 Nola.

Discount Vouchers for the Boston Common Garage are available for $9.00 each from Nola Sheffer. You can find her 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.

 


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT

January 11-17, 2016

Monday, January 11

1:00 pm      Organ Practice
4:00 pm     Beacon Hill Seminar Kickoff Reception

Tuesday, January 12
Aelred of Rievaulx
5:30 pm      Community Supper
7:00 pm      Theology on Tap
Wednesday, January 13
Hilary of Poitiers
6:00 pm      Healing Mass
6:30 pm      Parish Choir Rehearsal
7:00 pm      Bell Ringing
Thursday, January 14
10:00 am      Play Group
7:00 pm       Advent Choir Rehearsal
Friday, January 15
10:00 am      Play Group
Saturday, January 16
10:00 am      Advent Choir Rehearsal
8:00 pm       AA Meeting
Sunday, January 17
The Confession of St Peter
7:30 am      Morning Prayer
8:00 am      Low Mass
9:00 am      Sung Mass
10:15 am     Church School / Entr’acte
11:15 am      Solemn Mass
4:30 pm      Organ Recital
5:00 pm      Solemn Evensong & Benediction

“The Reveal” :: Sermon Preached by Fr. Sammy Wood on the Feast of the Epiphany

Feast of the Epiphany // 6 January 2016
“The Reveal” // A Sermon by Fr. Sammy Wood
Isaiah 60.1-6, 9
Psalm 72
Ephesians 3.1-12
Matthew 2.1-12

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

I want to read a few words and phrases and I hope you will recognize at least one or two of them. Ready?

  • Rosebud.
  • Verbal Kint is Keyser Soze.
  • Maybe this one: “Luke — I am your father.”

How many of you know what those have in common? Some of you have never heard of any of them and have no idea what I am talking about. But (spoiler alert, for those of you who’ve never seen Citizen Kane, The Usual Suspects, or Star Wars) each of them — Rosebud, Keyzer Soze, Darth Vader’s words to Luke Skywalker — each is on a list somewhere as one of the greatest “reveals” of all time. The reveal is the magician’s tool — it’s when the illusionist makes known something that was previously unknown. It’s also a literary term — the reveal is a plot device in a narrative, the moment in a story when the reader or the audience suddenly learns the mystery that had been hidden.

Tonight — Epiphany — this is the reveal. More than just the end of Christmastide, more than just another midwinter night, tonight is the night God reveals “the meaning and end of history.” Tonight God explains the mystery of history (pardon the rhyme). So in these few moments, I want us to look at four things: (1) the Mystery, (2) the Magi, (3) the Metamorphosis, and (3) the Mission.

First, remember the mystery

“In the beginning” – In the beginning there was God and the garden, the woman and the man. All was as God intended. There was harmony between God and man, between the man and the woman, between humanity and the cosmos. But when our first parents fell and disobeyed the one command God gave them, they fractured the world and forfeited the Garden. But remember the cryptic proclamation in Genesis 3 — when God cursed the serpent he said:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, 
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel. (Gen. 3.15)

That’s the first seed of the mystery. God vowed not to leave us banished, exiled. Somehow, through Eve’s offspring, God would give us back the keys to the Garden and all the harmony we had there. From that point the mystery was unfolding — the promise to Abraham, the sacrifice of Isaac, the deliverance of Israel from slavery, Isaiah’s prophecy that “darkness will cover the earth” but a light will come (Isa. 60.2) — every event of salvation history was another clue to the mystery of God’s plan to get us back to the Garden.

2253052-curtainThen comes the reveal: The MagiNow after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matt. 2.1-2)

We sing “We Three Kings” and our kids dress up as wise men and women in the Christmas pageant, but we don’t really know that much about the people Fr. Pfatteicher calls “[t]hese shadowy astrologers, traveling vaguely ‘from the east’ with their strange gifts, [who] symbolize more than we can ever say, more than we can ever know”? We don’t know that there were three, we don’t know they were “men,” we don’t know how long it took them to get to Jesus, we don’t know their names (outside legend). But we do know one thing, and it’s the final clue to the mystery — the Magi were Gentiles. They were pagans, not Jews. They were outside God’s family. But they came to worship the newborn king, and that showed us something about salvation: Salvation doesn’t come just to Jews who keep God’s law, it comes to the whole world, even Gentile astrologers, and that means it has to come by grace. St. Paul uses the word mysterion/mystery three times in tonight’s reading from Ephesians. After the Magi, now we know the mystery Paul knew, the mystery of Christ, the mystery which “was not made known to the sons of men in other generations,” the mystery is: The Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Eph. 3.6) The Magi reveal that all along — God was coming to save us all.

Point three: The metamorphosis — Everybody knows a good magician never reveals his secrets, but God does, and in our story we see how God does it. To see it we just have to follow the theme of light in the bible. Tonight is about light, right? (The Magi follow a star shining in the sky, the light of the world coming down from heaven) Remember earlier in Isaiah the prophet said “A people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isa. 9.2), and when we get to John’s gospel we see what that light is. Or, rather, who that light is. Jesus says “I am the light of the world.” (John 8.12) Then came the cross — on the cross, when Jesus was dying, what happened? There was darkness. Matt. 27: From the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. See what’s happening? The light of the world is being swallowed by darkness so we could come into the light. The light of the world being pushed out so we can be let back in.

And what happens? When we see what God did for us, we metamorphosize. We change. Paul says it just two chapters later in Ephesians: At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. (Eph. 5.8) The metamorphosis happens when we see that the light went down into darkness to bring us up into light, and that changes us, makes us lights.

Which leads to the last point: The pages of the bible have been rustling with mystery since the very beginning; the Magi revealed the mystery, which is the gospel of God’s grace; and we’ve morphed from children of darkness to children of light; so what do we do now?

That’s the Mission — St. Paul says he was made a minister of this gospel “to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 3.9b-10)

St. Paul’s mission, just like ours, is to bring this mystery to light for everyone around us. But how? Leslie Newbigin, the great missiologist, wrote a book called The Open Secret, and in it he said there are two kinds of missionaries. First, there are “pure evangelists” – they just preach; no social services, no deeds of mercy, just the message of the gospel. But Newbigin says “the logic of the gospel has always been too strong for them.” If a hungry man comes looking for food, shall we deny him in the name of the gospel? Of course not. So the missionary is drawn to build hospitals, schools, food banks. But then the pendulum swings so far that we have a second kind of missionary, the “social service” missionary. Again, the logic of the gospel is too strong. Jesus said it himself in Matthew 28 when he sent his disciples out into the world to make disciples, to baptize, and to teach. Not just to build hospitals, but to build them for God and then tell people why we built it. You see? For us to be light in the world, we have to do both — reveal the mystery, do good works, then tell people why we do them.

So — Now you know the reveal. Maybe you’ve never heard this until tonight, so you’re only just now coming into the light. That’s great — it’s called “becoming a Christian.” But the story doesn’t end there. Now you are the light of the world. Are we telling our story and doing good works? Newbigin says the church has been given a mystery, a priceless treasure, and it’s an “open secret”:

The treasure is nothing less than “the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4.1), “the mystery which was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed and . . . made known to all nations . . .” (Rom. 16.25-26) . . . . It is the open secret of God’s purpose, through Christ, to bring all things to their true end in the glory of the triune God. It is open in that it is announced in the gospel that is preached to tall the nations; it is a secret in that it is manifest only to the eyes of faith. It is entrusted to those whom God has given the gift of faith by which the weakness and foolishness of the cross is known as the power and wisdom of God. It is entrusted to then not for themselves but for all the nations.

That’s our mission. That is Epiphany. We know the secret; now go tell it to the world.

Amen.

[[ Click for audio of the sermon ]]

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Allan B. Warren III at the Church of the Advent, Sunday, January 3, 2016, the Second Sunday after Christmas

Today is the second Sunday after Christmas and it is a somewhat irregular Sunday, for it only happens when Christmas falls on certain days of the week. It is also a Sunday which seems – liturgically – not to be able to make up its mind. Instead of just one, there are three different Gospel readings assigned for the second Sunday after Christmas, so it’s up to the preacher, not the Sunday, to decide which Gospel to use. The choices for today are these: the flight into Egypt from St. Matthew, the visit of the wise men, also from Matthew; or Jesus in the temple with the teachers, answering and asking questions, from St. Luke.  I chose Luke, but I could have chosen Matthew and the wise men, because what I want us to think about this morning is wisdom.

And, you see, in both the Matthew and Luke lections Jesus  is pictured  as Wisdom in person, Wisdom personified. Wise men, Magi, who search the sky and the  stars for Wisdom, journey  from the East to Bethlehem  to find a greater wisdom. And they do find it in the child Jesus who is Wisdom and Truth and also a king. Wisdom  Himself  sought by wise men.

Luke records another journey. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus journey to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. As they leave the city, Jesus is left behind. His parents return and they find him – in the Temple with the teachers and scholars.  Wisdom Himself  among the wise men.

And so wisdom is a motif in two of today’s Gospels.  But what is this wisdom,  and how  and why  should  wisdom  be Jesus?

Certainly wisdom is something deeper than mere knowledge. The knowledge of facts and figures about the world and human endeavor is necessary. We can’t get on without it. But a tally of facts and figures, no matter how long or how varied, is useless unless we understand what those facts and figures mean. Useless, unless we understand how those facts and figures and data are connected and interconnected, how they picture the present, how they explain the past, how they predict the future.

Understanding. Most human intellectual endeavor is about understanding. But wisdom is something even deeper than understanding. Wisdom is something beyond mere knowledge and the most accomplished understanding. There are – aren’t there – a great many people with multiple degrees who are not as wise as my cats. And there are many wise men and wise women who may not be able to read or write.

But what is wisdom? What is it like? Let me give you a few mundane examples which, I think, point to something profound. Perhaps, indeed, wisdom is mundane, that is to say, of the world.   And perhaps Wisdom should be mundane, though deeply  spiritual. Perhaps indeed, as far as true Wisdom is concerned, the mundane and the spiritual cannot be separated.

My first example may seem somewhat silly – learning to play a sport. To do so, you’ve got to learn the rules.  You’ve got to learn the moves. You’ve got to leave to and cooperate with other people.  It takes a lot of tumbles and skinned knees and an often bruised ego, but then there is that moment when you  “get it,” it happens, it becomes natural.  The moment when you can play and can become part of a team, because what you are doing is unselfconscious and natural.

Another example:  learning to play a musical instrument.  Learning to read music, learning the moves.  Then hours of practice,  exercises, and instruction, and then there is that moment when you “get it,” it “becomes natural,” you only have to look at the music and you can play it. And if you stay with it, you never lose it; it only gets better. It’s no longer something external, but internal and automatic and unselfconscious.

Or lastly, learning a language.  Sometimes that means mastering a new alphabet or way of writing, which can be rather challenging. And then, again, hours of memorization, of exercises, of reading and listening and trying to speak. Sometimes getting it right and sometimes getting it wrong, and then there is that moment when you do “get  it,” it becomes “second nature,” automatic, you don’t have to think. Like music, it is no longer external, but internal – part of oneself.

Wisdom is rather like that. It can include knowledge an understanding, but it is beyond knowledge and understanding, and is something deeper, and at the same time simpler, and yet more complicated. “Second nature” is an apt phrase to describe wisdom, and it accords well with the most ancient and primitive Hebrew word for wisdom which means the “mastery of a skill.” Not just a skill, but the mastery of a skill – a skill that has become – again – “second  nature.”

And when  Hebrew  thought  had  developed  over  the years,  wisdom  came to mean  that kind of mastery extended  to the whole  of life.  Wisdom  is mastery  of the skill of life.  That’s what the Hebrews thought, and few serious thinkers would disagree. Wisdom is mastery  of the skill of  life.

Christianity goes a bit further, and that is what we celebrate today. It suggests that wisdom in order to be wisdom must be incarnate.  It must be internal, incarnate in you    and me, if we are to be wise. Wisdom is more than the mastery of a skill, even the skill of life; wisdom is the living of that life.  Wisdom cannot be external to a life, for then it   would be a law, and a law, no matter how wise and good and true, is not wisdom.

Wisdom must be internal, part of one’s self.  Moreover, laws are to be followed and  obeyed, wisdom is to be lived. Wisdom is a life lived as it was created by God to be.

And that is the Wisdom who was born in Bethlehem. He is a Wisdom come to heal our brokenness and undo our bondage to the power of sin. Sin forces us to live lives that are  not as they were created to be.  Sin tears us apart from God and from one another, though we were made to be with God and with one another.

And so, Jesus is born as Wisdom Incarnate, truly God and truly man to restore the truth of our lives which had been destroyed by sin.

He is born truly God and truly man  and to join us to Himself and to God.

Jesus is born as Wisdom and Truth incarnate to become incarnate in our lives and thereby to create in us a “second nature.”

To  give us, through Him, skill in the living of life.

To give us, through Him, mastery over our lives.

True man  and true God, Emmanuel – God-with-us – a Savior who is Christ the Lord!

Amen.

This Week’s Announcements – January 3-9, 2016

Healing services will be held after all Masses in the Lady Chapel.

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

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

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

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

11:15 AM – Infant 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 Sarah Connor at 617-480-3017 or by email.

 


TODAY

 9:00 Coffee Hour. Maggie Dunbar and Nola Sheffer host the Coffee Hour this morning. The hosts next week will be Nathan Cleveland and Ray Porter. New coffee hour hosts are always needed; please contact Barbara Boles by phone, 617-501-7572, or email bbolesster@gmail.com if you’re interested or have questions about what is entailed.

11:15 Coffee Hour. Today, Karen Chaney, Lynn Eustis, and Meg Mill are the coffee hour hosts. We do not have hosts yet for next week.   We are in need of more volunteers to do the coffee hour. Please contact the Coffee Team to volunteer. You can go to https://www.theadventboston.org/1115-coffee-hour-signup/ to choose a date to host. If you have any questions, please contact Marcos or Daniel German-Domingues (mrbgd@hotmail.com or DGDomingues@outlook.com) or Frederick Ou (frederick.ou@gmail.com).

 

Deacon Noyes is on sabbatical in California. After traveling by train to Palo Alto, California (arriving on January 1), she will spend the winter term at Stanford University, where she has a visiting clergy appointment in the Office for Religious Life. In addition to studying at the University and assisting at worship services at Stanford Memorial Church, she will spend time with chaplain colleagues in Stanford Medical Center’s spiritual care department. She will return—also by train—in mid-March, in order to be home for Holy Week and Easter.

 

Gift Opportunities: Several weeks ago I preached a sermon on gifts—how everything we enjoy  at the Advent is a gift to us individually and corporately from someone else.  Often, from someone who lived some time ago, and yet their gift is a benefit to members of the Parish today.  Examples:  the Great Rood which rules over the interior of the church, our magnificent organ, the sacred vessels and vestments, the stunning renovation of gilding, of paintings in the Sanctuary, and of the Library.

At the Property Committee in November we discussed possible gifts to the Parish community.  Here are two which the Property Committee and I propose.  Vance Hosford, chairman of the committee and I will be happy to discuss these with anyone who is interested.

1)  The renovation of the West Doors.  These are formidable doors, indeed, and one might also well say that they are works of art.  Over the years the weather has treated them badly, and last winter was particularly hard on them.  The wonderful hinges on the exterior are badly rusted.  The wood very much needs treatment and restoration.  We do not yet have an up-to-date estimate for this work, but will publish it as soon as we do.

2)  A new High Mass Set and Frontal for Advent.   This is something we need badly.  A minor emergency, one might say.  Recently, our Sacristan showed me that the Advent frontal is deteriorating from the inside, and that the top panel is connected to the frontal itself by torn and rotting cloth.  It is quite beyond repairing.

The High Mass vestments, which in fact do not match the present frontal, have been repaired so many times that we are not going to be able to do this much longer.  Clearly, we need a new set of vestments to go with a new frontal.

And .  .  .  we are, after all, the Church OF the Advent.  We ought to have a High Mass Set and frontal which befits our title and our tradition.

This past Advent Sunday two donors made generous donations, and there has been the promise of other gifts to the project.  At present the cost is uncertain.  We will have a better idea when there have been enough donations to know that we have ample money to begin the project and have a specific design created for the set and frontal.               —Father Warren  

 

There is no Entr’acte this morning. It will resume next Sunday when Vance Hosford will begin a two-part discussion of Anglo-Catholicism and Church Architecture.


THIS WEEK

Wednesday, January 6—The Feast of the Epiphany 6:30 pm: Procession & Solemn Mass; Twelfth Night Reception.

 

The Rev’d Eric Litman will be ordained priest this Saturday, January 9 at 11:00 am at St James’s Church in Cambridge. He writes that “I first considered the possibility of ordination in 2008 when I went with Fr Gray, and the Mcinroys to the discernment conference. It has been a bit of a journey since then. The Advent has been a great center of spiritual life, community and encouragement for my family. I am very grateful for that. All the best.” Advent parishioners are invited to attend.


COMING UP!

The Adventurers are planning some Culinary Adventures in January and February! Be sure to contact Ginnie at vcpierce27@yahoo.com so you’ll know all about them. The first will be at the Museum of Fine Arts, January 10, with Laura Ziman who will tell us about some US, especially African-American culinary history. Then she’ll come to our kitchen here at the Advent for a cooking class. She’ll teach us what we want to know. Appetizers, entrées, pastas, desserts. whatever. So email me if you’re interested and let me know what you want Laura to cook. This will be much fun.

Theology on Tap returns on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 with a visit from an old friend, Leah Libresco, whose topic will be:  “Accidental Stylites?:  The Benedict Option and the American Church”  Lots of people are talking about “the Benedict Option” these days—from the man who coined the phrase (Rod Dreher), to the guys at Mockingbird, to an Anglican who launched a BenOp community in London—but other folks aren’t as familiar with the idea or haven’t considered its consequences.  Leah Libresco has thought about the BenOp, and she thinks it’s easy for Christians today to wind up as “accidental stylites”—living their faith in isolation, going to Church with others, but otherwise finding their spiritual life restricted to private, solitary moments.  She joined us last year to promote her first book, Arriving at Amen:  Seven Catholic Prayers that Even I Can Offer, and we’re delighted she’s agreed to come back!  Come out to the Rattlesnake Bar and bring a friend (or 4) to welcome her back to Boston on January 12 at 7:00 pm.


MISSION & OUTREACH

Mission & Outreach Team Meeting—TODAY! January 3, 2016—The Mission & Outreach Team will meet today after the 11:15 Mass (we usually convene around 1:15) in Fr Wood’s office in the parish house.  Anyone is welcome to attend, so join us if you have ideas for mission, a heart for mission, or would like to get personally involved in the mission of the Advent to Boston and the world!

 

Parishioners Mariella and Mark Mattaliano, and their mom, Andra, recently collected donations to buy sleeping bags for some homeless friends forced to sleep out on a cold night at the Old South Church.  They raised enough money to buy 10 zero degree sleeping bags, and they handed them out, along with some warm socks, to their new friends at Old South.

 

Thank you for a generous 2015!  Advent parishioners were more active than ever in giving to support the various campaigns our Mission & Outreach Team ran in 2015—winter clothes for One Warm Coat, items for animals at Angell Memorial, school supplies for the Epiphany School, professional clothing through Solutions at Work, baby clothes and diapers for Vincent Newborn Necessities.  All our campaigns are closed for now, and the office isn’t taking any more donations, but the M&O Team want to thank you for making 2015 our most active giving season in recent memory!


STEWARDSHIP 2016

As of this past Tuesday, we have 193 pledges, pledging a total of $497,413.  76 have increased their pledges by 19%, and there are 22 new pledges.  Thanks be to God!  We have still to hear from 43 parishioners who pledged a total of $58,931 last year. 

Pledge Envelopes for 2016: If you made a pledge for 2016 and requested pledge envelopes, they can be found at the back of the Church on tables in alphabetical order. If you requested envelopes and cannot find them, call the Parish Office at 617-523-2377 ext 122.

 


ODDS & ENDS

The flowers that adorn the Church are funded entirely by donations from members and friends of the Parish.  There is an opening for a flower memorial or thanksgiving for the High Altar on Sunday, January 10.  If you are interested, please call Blenda Jeffry at 978-443-3519 (email fayej36@yahoo.com)

The Diocesan congregational development staff welcomes Larry Civale to their staff.   The congregational development team on the diocesan staff welcomed two new members recently, one of whom is fellow Advent parishioner, Larry Civale, as Senior Consultant.  Prior to joining the staff, Civale served as a congregational consultant for several months.  He also works in private practice as a psychotherapist and is a licensed clinical social worker.  Larry brings significant experience in professional counseling and congregational consulting to his work with our parishes.  He is a careful listener and a caring presence in our midst,” said the Rev’d Canon Libby Berman, Canon for Congregations.

 

Parishioner Kyle Pilares has designed seriously good-looking neckties and bowties, which will be the official ties and bowties of the Church of the Advent. For the ladies he has designed really gorgeous scarves, which will bear the same imprimatur. These are on sale during Coffee Hour. Bowties – $30. Neckties – $40. Scarves – $50. Buy one for yourself. Buy others for gifts.

Discount Vouchers for the Boston Common Garage are available for $9.00 each from Nola Sheffer. You can find her 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 Nola.

The Annual Parish Meeting is Sunday, January 24, 2016.  Contributions to the 2015 Annual Report must be in the Parish Office no later than 12:00 Noon on Tuesday, January 5, 2016.  All heads of committees or groups are expected to write a report.  Electronic submission is preferred. This is the fifth time of asking.

Vestry Nominations. Please note that several members of the Vestry, a Treasurer and a Clerk will be elected at the Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 24, 2016. It is not too early to think about members of the Parish whom you think would serve effectively on the Vestry. A Nominating Committee consisting of John Higgins, Jack Gurnon, Thatcher Gearhart, Father Warren, and the Wardens, Tom Brown and Kara Rodgers, is ready to receive the names of those whom you wish to nominate. Please speak to them beforehand to make sure that they are willing to run.

Discount Vouchers for the Boston Common Garage are available for $9.00 each from Nola Sheffer. You can find her 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.

 

Fr Mead’s book available on Amazon.com—After Fr Wood’s recent sermon quoted Fr Mead’s newly published sermon compilation, several people inquired whether the book would be available in the bookstall. Copies aren’t currently available here, but Catechesis: A Collection of Sermons for the Christian Year by Andrew C. Mead is available on Amazon for around $14.

American Boychoir Concert—St Paul’s Cathedral—Sunday, January 10 at 4:00 pm. The American Boychoir will stop in Boston on its national tour this year. Widely recognized as one of the finest musical ensembles in the country, the Boychoir performs regularly with world-class musical ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Boston concert will be held at the Cathedral Church of St Paul, 138 Tremont Street, on Sunday, January 10, 2016, at 4:00 pm. Advance tickets (adults $30, students/seniors $15) can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2464552. For more information on the Boston concert, please email boychoirfoundation@gmail.com.


THIS WEEK AT THE ADVENT

January 4-10

Monday, January 4

1:00 pm      Organ Practice

Tuesday, January 5
5:30 pm      Community Supper
Wednesday, January 6
The Feast of the Epiphany
6:30 pm      Procession & Solemn Mass; Twelfth Night Party
8:30 pm      Bell Ringing
Thursday, January 7
10:00 am      Play Group
Friday, January 8
10:00 am      Play Group
Saturday, January 9
10:00 am      Advent Choir Rehearsal
8:00 pm       AA Meeting
Sunday, January 10
The First Sunday after Epiphany
7:30 am      Morning Prayer
8:00 am      Low Mass
9:00 am      Sung Mass; Blessing of Chalk
10:15 am     Church School / Entr’acte
11:15 am      Solemn Mass

Solemn Mass Roster for July-August 2019

To advise of your availability – or lack thereof – or if you are unable to serve as scheduled, please contact Julianne Turé: 781-324-8831 / jture@comcast.net and Richard Corrieri: 781-662-0690 / richardcorrieri48@gmail.com.  

In an emergency: Leave a message in the work sacristy (617-523-2377 x151).

July 1 – Monday, 6:00pm
Solemn Evensong & Sermon (Association of Anglican Musicians)
July 7
IV Pentecost (Proper 9)
MC: Dustin Henderson
SD: Julianne Turé
TH: Richard Corrieri
CR: Ignacio Gama
A: Dan Orsen
A: Carolyn Walden
Chaplain: Kyriell Palaeologue
Read: provided by AAM
First Lesson: Isaiah 49:1-6
Second Lesson: Galatians 2:1-9
Crystal Crucifix, Upper Tier
MC: Frederick Ou
SD: Carolyn Walden
TH: Charles Dale
CR: David Lapin
A: Mark Aparece
A: Melanie McNaughton
CM: Dustin Henderson
Read: Lynda Blair
First Lesson: Isaiah 66:10-16
Second Lesson: Galatians 6:(1-10)14-18
Dominical Cross
July 14
V Pentecost (Proper 10)
July 21
VI Pentecost (Proper 11)
MC: Michael Gnozzio
SD: Richard Corrieri
TH: Mark Aparece
CR: Harmony Witte
A: Br. Ciaran Anthony
A: Julianne Turé
CM: Lynda Blair
Read: Gabriel Ellsworth
First Lesson: Deuteronomy 30:9-14
Epistle: Colossians 1:1-14
Dominical Cross
MC: Dustin Henderson
SD: Melanie McNaughton
TH: Jason Grant
CR: Br. Ciaran Anthony
A: Michael Gnozzio
A: Frederick Ou
CM: David Lapin
Read: Julianne Turé
First Lesson: Genesis 18:1-10a(10b-14)
Epistle: Colossians 1:21-29
Dominical Cross
July 28
VII Pentecost (Proper 12)
August 4
VIII Pentecost (Proper 13)
MC: Richard Corrieri
SD: Dustin Henderson
TH: Frederick Ou
CR: Harmony Witte
A: Charles Dale
A: Ignacio Gama
CM: Carolyn Walden
Read: Karen Chaney
First Lesson: Genesis 18:20-33
Epistle: Colossians 2:6-15
Dominical Cross
MC: Julianne Turé
SD: Br. Ciaran Anthony
TH: Michael Gnozzio
CR: Stephen Kies *
A: Jason Grant
A: Carolyn Walden
CM: Melanie McNaughton
Read: David Fisher
First Lesson: Ecclesiastes 1:12-14, 2:(1-7, 11)18-23
Epistle: Colossians 3:(5-11)12-17
Dominical Cross
August 11
IX Pentecost (Proper 14)
August 18
X Pentecost (Proper 15)
MC: Charles Dale
SD: David Lapin
TH: Br. Ciaran Anthony
CR: Jonathan Maldonado **
A: Mark Aparece
A: Melanie McNaughton
CM: Julianne Turé
Read: Mary Grahame Hunter
First Lesson: Genesis 15:1-6
Epistle: Hebrews 11:1-3(4-7)8-16
Dominical Cross
MC: David Lapin
SD: Michael Gnozzio
TH: Richard Corrieri
CR: Carolyn Walden
A: Mark Aparece
A: Xander Mojarrab
CM: Lynda Blair
Read: Philip LeQuesne
First Lesson: Jeremiah 23:23-29
Epistle: Hebrews 12:1-7(8-10)11-14
Dominical Cross
August 25
XI Pentecost (Proper 16)
 
MC: Mark Aparece ***
SD: Julianne Turé
TH: Xander Mojarrab
CR: Harmony Witte
A: Br. Ciaran Anthony
A: Frederick Ou
CM: Richard Corrieri
Read: Kara Marshall
First Lesson: Isaiah 28:14-22
Epistle: Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-29
Dominical Cross
 

* New position. Please arrange a rehearsal with Dustin Henderson.
** New position. Please arrange a rehearsal with Br. Ciaran Anthony.
*** New position. Please arrange a rehearsal with Julianne Turé.

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Allan B. Warren III at the Church of the Advent, Christmas Eve 2015 (Midnight Mass)

It may be the long dark nights at this time of year which made story telling an almost necessary pastime, not so long ago, or perhaps it is the apparent charm of the story itself – mother and child, angels and shepherds, the ox, the ass ?  Whatever it was, whatever it is, Christmas has a way of creating  its own particular beliefs and legends and folklore.  Call them superstitions, if you want, but remember, only something very important gives rise to superstition.

One of my favorites is this: at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, the animals – for a short time – are given the power of speech. To pray, to praise, to deliver messages or just to chatter. You may have heard of this before. It’s a belief that appears in one form or another all over the Christian world – mostly in Scandinavia and northern Europe, but also in France and Italy, and into the East.

Sometimes the animals are given a conversation.  Strangely enough, Agnes Brodie, my very committed New England Unitarian  mother-in-law, used to recite their conversation in Latin !  I don’t remember the whole thing, but I do remember this bit.  From the horse: Hodie Christus natus est.  Christ is born today.  From the ox:  Ubi ? Ubi ?  Where ?  Where ?  From the sheep:  In Bethlehem.  In Bethlehem.  I’m not that good at animal sounds, but  from Agnes it went like this:

The horse.  H-o-i-d-i-e, h-o-i-d-i-e Christus natus est.

The ox. Oooobi ?  Oooobi ?

The donkey.  In B-eh-eh-eh-eh-et-lehem,  B-eh-eh-eh-eh-et-lehem.

And who knows? At midnight on Christmas Eve I’m always where I am right now – in Church. Or occasionally sound asleep in bed. And you .   .   .  well, I suspect it’s the same with you. But I wonder.  Who knows what’s soon to be said around here at midnight.  Simon in the Parish Office demanding to be fed .   .   . again.  Or Max, Lucy, and Louis in the rectory getting into to a little truth session about their master. Actually, I’m not sure I want to hear that!

But let me add a caution. If you are tempted next year to stay up late, ‘til midnight, and to eavesdrop, consider this. They speak – yes! – but according to the legend, the language, of course, is Latin.

But there’s more than just fun and fancy to this.  It does, in fact, reveal a truth about the feast we celebrate this is evening.  And that truth is:  the birth of the Savior established a new harmony in creation.  Harmony.  Remember the prophecy of Isaiah:

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together.  The cow and the bear shall feed; their young  shall lie down together, and a little child shall lead them. ( 11:6,7)

Harmony.  Harmony in creation.  And one thing that is absolutely indispensable, utterly necessary for harmony is communication.  The Savior birth brings harmony, and, as a sign of that new harmony, the animals speak.

*     *     *     *     *

There is another Christmas legend – this one very, very ancient and on the surface, rather arcane. And it is this: that at the moment of the Savior’s birth the movement of time stopped and the whole created order paused. Time itself somehow came to a halt, and the universe was suddenly suspended in a moment which was outside of time.

It is a strange idea, difficult to imagine, and compared to the many other lighthearted legends of the season, it seems bizarre and even out of place. But, if you think deeply for a minute or two, the meaning becomes clear. Time stopped, for the moment of that birth in Bethlehem was the beginning of a new time. The created order paused, for the moment of that birth in Bethlehem was the remaking of creation and the recreation of time itself.  They paused, they halted, in order to be refashioned into something new. The child born in Bethlehem that night would change the world entirely – now a new time and a new creation.

St. Paul tells us the same thing when he tells us that the child whose birth we celebrate is a new Adam.  He, Jesus, is a new Adam, for by his birth – Paul is convinced – the destiny of humanity has been fundamentally changed and altered. In the old Adam, humankind was destined to sin and death and doomed to alienation from God. In the new Adam, our dear Lord Jesus, the bondage of sin is broken, the finality of death is finished, and man is joined truly and fully to God. This from Paul: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (II Cor. 5:17)

And from St. John: “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) This, my sisters and my brothers, is what Christianity has the audacity and the courage to proclaim: that the Word was made flesh.  That God, his Word, the Son of God, entered completely into human life and made human life  his own. In that manger slept the creator of the stars. Suckling at his mother’s breast was the one who fashioned time and the universe .   .   .    and you and me.

Our faith makes the astounding claim – and tonight we celebrate it – that God lived and experienced all that it is to be human. All that you and I know; all that we shall ever know as human beings – even pain and sin and hatred and death – all these things God knew. And by his living and finally by his dying and rising out of death,  He,  Jesus,  fundamentally changed human reality – so changed it that we may well say that time and the world were remade by his birth and in his life. He – dear Jesus – is our new Adam generating and regenerating a new human race.

And – praise God for this! – into that new world and into that new time you and I may enter – through him. Into that new humanity you and I may be born – through him. And by his life, which lives beyond the grave, our lives may be quickened and made secure – through him.

And so, rejoice, my brothers and sisters. Rejoice! For Christ is born in Bethlehem. Rejoice! For heaven has come to earth. And earth, being made new, has been raised on high!

Amen.

Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Daphne B. Noyes at the Church of the Advent, Christmas Eve 2015 (4:30 Service)

Are you ready for Christmas?

That’s a pretty common question right now. Are you ready for Christmas?

One way we get ready for Christmas is by picking out presents and wrapping them. We may spend lots of time carefully wrapping presents.

Why do we wrap presents?

Why don’t we just say, here’s a book…a sweater…a ball?

One reason why is to surprise people. When a present is wrapped, you don’t usually know what it is. It’s a secret!

You might spend time shaking or pinching or weighing boxes, trying to figure out what’s in each one. You are curious.

I wonder what’s in it?

A soccer ball? No, too flat.
A sweater? No, too heavy.
A bicycle? No, too small.

Another reason we wrap presents is to show that the present is special. And the person you’re giving the present to is special.

So you may spend some time deciding what paper to use for each person. For one person, wrapping paper with a pattern of snowflakes and icicles might be best. For another, glittery gold paper might be best. For yet another, a fancy design might be best. You choose the paper based on what you know about the person.

But the fancy paper doesn’t stay on the present. Soon it will be unwrapped. No more fancy paper. And after you open your present, and see the secret that’s been hiding inside, you say Thank you to the person who gave you the gift. If you’re really excited, you may say, Thank you! It’s perfect! I love it!
And when you say that about a present, it’s usually because the person who gave it to you knows you really well.

There is a wonderful gift that comes for everyone. Everyone in the world.

That gift is wrapped, but not in paper. And that gift is no secret.

Are you curious?

That gift is Jesus. Jesus is a gift from God. Jesus is the son of God.

I wonder if God spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to wrap this wonderful present. Not in fancy paper, no. Jesus comes as a baby, wrapped in human flesh. The same way you come, wrapped in human flesh. The same way everyone you know comes wrapped in human flesh. The same way people of all different shapes and sizes and colors come wrapped in human flesh.

When Jesus was born, people were surprised — the same way we may be surprised when we open a present.

No one expected God to come in the form of a little baby. No one expected God’s son to be born to people who were not rich. No one expected God’s son to be born in a stable full of animals.

But when Jesus was born, angels sang an important message, telling people that this baby, a baby the world had been waiting for so long, had been born. In the dark night sky, a star shone with a brilliant light, helping people find Jesus in the darkness.

God’s present of Jesus comes to us because we are special to God. Each one of us is special to God. And God knows us, knows each one of us, very well. The gift of God’s love will never break or be outgrown or go out of style.

Tonight we remember how much God loves us, to give us such a wonderful present, and we say Thank you. Thank you for this little baby, for God wrapped in human flesh. Thank you. It’s perfect. I love it!

There’s something else we remember tonight. Soon we will sing and go to the creche with presents, some wrapped, and some not wrapped. These presents are for children who are not here tonight. They are for children who need sweaters and teddy bears and all the gifts you are bringing, because there may be no one else who can give them gifts. When we give gifts to these children, it makes God’s heart glad, because God loves those children just like God loves you.

Now here’s a question. If you were going to give a gift to God, how would you wrap it?

I will tell you the best way. Wrap the present in yourself. Because the best present you can give to God is yourself. That present makes God and all the angels sing for joy. And it makes the stars shine a little brighter, as God says, Thank you for the gift of yourself. It’s perfect. I love it!

Now: Are you ready for Christmas? Because Christmas is ready for you!