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What real welcome is

January 11, 2013

cardsIN MY family, we play a card game, devised by my grandfather, that I am quite sure is played nowhere else. A variant of Rummy, we play it ruthlessly, although we no longer play as quietly as we did when my grandfather was alive and at the table.

It is always enjoyable to have houseguests, who, outside of repeat visitors, will be unfamiliar with the game. It is a great pleasure, after dinner, to get out the cards and teach the uninitiated the rules of the game. We play an open hand or two, usually argue amongst ourselves about which of many is the most commendable strategy to follow, and then set our guest off on his own. What fun it is to watch someone new to the game get his legs under him, grow in confidence, and then take a hand or two off my mother.

In sharing our particular game of cards, we find that we are really sharing something of ourselves. We welcome guests by breaking bread together, by sharing good wine and good cheer, and by inviting them to partake of those things peculiar to our own selves. When outsiders are at hand, we do not put away our cards. We show them the rules, making them partakers as well of what we hold most dear.

IN THIS new year, we continue our old fight against pandering, threadbare ecclesiology, and the conventional wisdom that confuses standing for nothing with standing for something.

In our Protestant Episcopal Church, we have a long and proud history of worship, of service, and of striving after holiness. To any of us who have known it since birth–and to many who have known it for a shorter span–the words of the Book of Common Prayer are an adequate and quite moving guide for how best to honor the reminder that “we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”1 This heritage of Common Prayer, together with our common ways as churchmen and churchwomen, are peculiar to us as Episcopalians, and they are shared by no Presbyterian, no Methodist, and no Roman Catholic.

We are therefore cheered to find a parish church whose welcome does not assume that seekers are looking for nothing, or for more of the same, and which does not cater to those who seek only the cheap affirmation of the panderer. We are cheered to find a parish church where welcome consists in sharing something, rather than sharing nothing. We are cheered to find a parish church where, when outsiders are at hand, they do not put away their cards; they show them the rules, making the newcomers partakers as well of something held very dear indeed.

Now we know where Andrew Blume learned it.

1. Titus 2:12-13

Fr. Warren.

Fr. Warren.

The Church of the Advent is a Christian community which gathers together day by day and week by week to know and make known the grace of God which comes to believers through Jesus Christ. All that we are and all that we do is empowered by the grace of God which is given to us through the Sacraments instituted by Christ, particularly the Sacrament of the Altar. And by means of this abundant grace we enjoy a diverse, vital, and close-knit parish family – young, old, rich, poor, of various ethnic origins and differing backgrounds. From our extraordinary music program to a growing church school, our guilds of bell ringers, gardeners and acolytes, to those who serve our long-standing Tuesday Night Community Dinner for the needy, the Advent is a community of faith which tries to keep the Gospel close to her heart and to live by Jesus’ teaching.

The mission of the Parish, as defined by its charter in 1844, is “to bring to a portion of the city of Boston the ministrations of the holy Catholic Church; and more especially to secure the same to the poor and needy in a manner free from unnecessary expense and all ungracious circumstances.” To that end The Advent was founded as the first church in Boston without compulsory pew rent. Over the years we have welcomed into our fellowship worshippers not only from the city and suburbs, but also from all New England. An appreciation of the importance of prayer and the ancient traditions of Christian worship inspires all our services, from a quiet weekday Mass in the Lady Chapel to the full splendor of Solemn High Mass on a Sunday morning. We are committed to preaching the Word of God and ministering His Sacraments to all who desire them, and we hope to have you join us in this mission.

And may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

~Allan B. Warren III

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