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A New Year, A New Way

The Rev. Patrick Ward
November 29, 2018

Although Back Bay retailers and my Gmail inbox have been in a holiday mood since Veterans Day, we—and Christians worldwide —don’t “officially” begin to look towards Christmas until this Sunday.  On Advent 1, December 2, we begin a new year together as God’s people. We’ll light the first of those four candles on the wreath. It’s a liturgical year that is already pregnant with possibility as our rector search committee enters the final phase of its discernment and we prepare to welcome a new person (who will not be Jesus) to begin ministry with us.


Advent is sometimes understood to be a “penitential” season like Lent — and that understanding misses its lovely essence. Advent is rather a season of waiting, of expectation, and of turning. It’s when we prepare to receive again the love of a God who refuses to forget us or to let us go, despite the worst we can do to each other or to ourselves. It’s a time to release the old and to push off into the new. “Even the hour when wings are frozen,” proclaims a beloved Advent carol, “God for fledging time has chosen.”


Considering everything in the air just now, I can’t think of a better moment for us to be welcoming Stephanie Spellers back among us than this coming weekend, to lead a workshop on Saturday, and to preach and offer a Forum (in the upstairs church) on Sunday morning. Stephanie served our Diocese for some years in the early 2000’s and was on staff here before relocating to New York City where she is currently Canon to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation.


Stephanie will be speaking to about 70 of us on Saturday out of her classic text Radical Welcome: Embracing God, the Other, and the Spirit of Transformation.  And on Sunday, in the Forum hour, she’ll be introducing us to a fresh initiative across our national church, The Way of Love.  Offered as a traditional “rule of life” or set of everyday practices, The Way of Love offers a direct response to a question I hear often: “How do we live our lives as Christians when we’re not in church?” 


I could begin to answer that question here. But I’d rather leave you hanging. Advent is, after all, a season of expectation. Start a few days early! 


See you in church,




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