“Sunday evening prayer meeting. It has seemed to him always that at that hour man approaches nearest of all to God, nearer than at any other hour of all the seven days. Then alone, of all church gatherings, is there something of that peace which is the promise and the end of the Church. The mind and the heart purged then, if it is ever to be; the week and its whatever disasters finished and summed and expiated by the stern and formal fury of the morning service; the next week and its whatever disasters not yet born, the heart quiet now for a little while beneath the cool soft blowing of faith and hope.”
In the Seasons of Epiphany and Lent, the Advocate will host a Contemplative Eucharist on Sundays at 5 PM in the Chapel. The main characteristic of a Contemplative Eucharist is a lot of silence — silent space for being and listening, for contemplation and for receiving the Spirit. This service is pared down — only one reading, simple chants led by a cantor without instrument accompaniment, and a silent meditation on the Gospel reading. We sit in a circle for the liturgy of the Word and stand for the Offertory and Eucharistic prayer. Candles in the middle of our space provide focus. It is a peaceful way to conclude the weekend or to prepare for the week ahead.
Come join us.
Most Wednesday evenings (or occasionally on Thursdays), The Advocate House becomes a place of shared food, shared stories, and deep fellowship. Our Advocate resident, Charles Rousseau is the host, providing an atmosphere of welcome, mutual care, and good humor. We call it House Dinner.
House Dinner is a time of togetherness over a shared meal, concluding with an invitation to respond to an open-ended prompt, often about an idea or concept (e.g., “shelter,” “grace,” “Christmas spirit”).
All are welcome any time, But it helps if you can let Charles know you are coming and if you can contribute food to the meal, so he can be sure the food and setting are gracious and welcoming.
Contact Charles Rousseau <email@example.com>, ideally by Tuesday of the week to let him know.
The Hose Dinner takes place on Wednesday, night at 7 PM except for when other events are scheduled at the church on that night, such at the Readers Roundtable on second Wednesdays, or a seasonal book study, as in Lent. On those weeks, the House Dinner moves to Thursday night at 7 PM.
Check the weekly calendar on the Advocate website for clarity!
Realizing that Christians are called to ministry in the world, each Sunday in the Season of Epiphany, The Church of the Advocate commissions people to their life, work and vocation in the community and world around us.
We will be commissioning the following vocations on the following dates:
Epiphany I, January 13: All who are in a Period of Discernment or Expectancy
Epiphany II, January 20: All who are caregivers for others.
Epiphany III, January 27: The Advocate Annual Meeting. All who serve the public good.
Epiphany IV, February 3: All who are in transition or are retired.
Epiphany V, February 10: All those engaged in expressive and creative endeavors.
Epiphany VI, February 17: All who work in the pursuit of knowledge.
Epiphany VII, February 24: All who engage in farming, gardening and stewardship of creation.
Last Epiphany, March 3: The Transfiguration: All who are the People of the Advocate
Come join us!
Posted here are some sample commissions from throughout the years.
All Who Work in the Pursuit of Knowledge
Celebrant: Now there are a variety of gifts but the same Spirit
People: There are a variety of services but the same Lord
Celebrant: We call forward all who work to increase our knowledge and understanding of God’s vast creation
Those to be commissioned come forward and present themselves to the celebrant and congregation
Celebrant: Lord, we present to you these teachers, students, scholars and administrators; researchers, inventors, scientists, and information specialists; historians, philosophers, theologians, and all who seek a deeper understanding of truth
Commissioned: Here I am, Lord
Celebrant: Do you celebrate your God given gifts?
Commissioned: We do
Celebrant: Do you seek the blessing of God and God’s Church?
Commissioned: We do
Celebrant: Do you promise, with the help of God, to use your gifts to serve God and neighbor?
Commissioned: We do
Celebrant: Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom: enlighten by your Holy Spirit those who teach and those who learn
Commissioned: We rejoice in the knowledge of your truth
Celebrant: Bless their pursuit of sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom
Commissioned: May we find in you the source of all truth
Celebrant: Give them times of refreshment and peace
Commissioned: That we may renew our minds, rebuild our bodies, and open our spirits to serve you from generation to generation
Celebrant: This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Celebrant: This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
For all those who care for the well being of others: for doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, therapists and all who study to do so
Call: Mighty and merciful God, who sent Jesus to heal broken lives, we praise you for raising up men and women who are skilled in the healing arts
Response: Strengthen their bodies that they may bend to care for young and old, and let them carry your gift of wholeness to all who suffer in body or mind
Call: Give them eyes to see and ears to hear
Response: Keep them ever open to a tear or cry of distress
Call: Lighten their hearts even when they are heavy or hurting
Response: Let them be touched as they offer your healing touch and presence. May they make the weak strong, the sick healthy, and the broken whole
Call: Bless them as agents of your love
Response: In your name we pray
The Readers Roundtable gathers the second Wednesday of the month, 7:00-8:30 PM in the Advocate House to talk about a book selected by those who participated in the Roundtable the previous month. Books are largely fiction, but are not limited to fiction.
Books so far have included Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Mary Doris Russell’s The Sparrow, and Mary Oliver’s Thirst, Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River, Wendell Berry’s A Place on Earth,
Each month the conversation is open to everyone and their friends.
In the season ahead, here are the books that will be discussed:
Readers’ Roundtable – Spring 2019
Second Wednesday of the Month, 7:00-8:30 PM
At the Church House
|Wednesday, January 9
The Solace of Leaving Early
Using small-town life as a springboard to explore the loftiest of ideas, Haven Kimmel’s irresistibly smart and generous first novel is at once a romance and a haunting meditation on grief and faith…
Deftly walking the tightrope between tragedy and comedy, The Solace of Leaving Early is a joyous story about finding one’s better self through accepting the shortcomings of others.
|Wednesday, February 13
The Golden Compass
The modern fantasy classic that Entertainment Weekly named an “All-Time Greatest Novel” and Newsweek hailed as a “Top 100 Book of All Time.” Philip Pullman takes readers to a world where humans have animal familiars and where parallel universes are within reach.
A masterwork of storytelling and suspense, Philip Pullman’s award-winning The Golden Compassis the first in the His Dark Materials series, which continues with The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.
A #1 New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Guardian Prize for Children’s Fiction
Published in 40 Countries
|Wednesday, May 8
The Nightingale: A Novel
A #1 New York Times bestseller, Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year, and soon to be a major motion picture, this unforgettable novel of love and strength in the face of war has enthralled a generation.
France, 1939 – In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive…
For further information, contact Paul Marvin. firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you’ve read the book or not, all are always welcome to join in the conversation!
The community gathered in the Advocate Chapel on Sunday, July 15, 2018,for the Burial Office for Tom Fisher.
Sam Laurent offered this sermon for Tom.
It’s there in the pictures. Looking at the photographs he took, the ones he exhibited, the ones he hung on his walls or that others of us have hung on our walls, you can see a bit of how Tom tried to see the world. It was a vision that didn’t come by accident. He cultivated it. Studied it. It ran deep in who he was, why we grieve him, and how we will know his presence again.
Street photography would be the name for the genre, and like many who were inspired by the french photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, Tom’s most creative work spurned grandeur and poses in favor of finding something beautiful in the mundane. A picture of someone doing their job. A picture of two people meeting on the street. Almost always, there were people.
So I asked him. Why these candid shots of people? In that way we had of giving his sophisticated wisdom a veneer of folksiness, Tom said “well, they’re a hell of a lot more interesting to take pictures of than rocks.”
And then he stared into the middle distance, lined up an imaginary shot in his mind and said “so there are two people coming together on the street. My job is to have my camera set up so that with minimal fussing with it, I can capture that moment. Just the encounter of two people is so fascinating. Maybe they know each other. Maybe they’re strangers. There is so much between them that I don’t know. I just want to capture the moment.”
The art in his images, then, was his reflexive attraction to wonder. Capture the moment, and you can return to it. You can imagine what was going on with the people in the picture and the space between them. But they remain mysteries. The photograph holds you in your unknowing, inviting you into a space of wonder.
And, well, so did Tom. As a financial planner, he made it his business to help people handle the uncertainty of life. His work helped people be able to turn their eyes from the nagging worries of the future and be attentive to the present.
Tom loved books. Specifically, he loved novels with the kind of characters you think about months later, characters that open up a space within you that you hadn’t known about before. Tom’s favorite characters felt compassion in their bones. They spoke to the beautiful experience of the unknowability of human life.
Tom loved live music. He and Candy travelled for concerts. He helped produce God only knows how many shows with the Forty Acres organization he cofounded. Those performances gathered people together to exalt in the creative potential of the moment.
Maybe all of this is why he was so captivated by this building. Probably he took more pictures of it than anything else that’s not a person. This chapel stood somewhere else for 120 years before we moved it here to Chapel Hill. It is a space consecrated over and over again by the gathering of generations of people we can’t know. These walls heard prayers and laments and hymns for decades before ours echoed through. This wood is seasoned like one of Tom’s old guitars, richer and warmer for the history that rippled through it, and drawing us into a present moment where the mystery of the past opens us to the mystery of the present, where our reality meets God’s.
God’s reality. That reality is particularly mysterious—acutely mysterious—to us today, and it was something that fascinated Tom throughout his life. The man who was known for being a terrific listener to his friends and family grounded himself in listening for God’s movement in the world. That mysterious depth that lies behind each person is a reflection of the primal mystery of the divine.
Divine mystery is an antagonist today. We always want to understand God. We want to say that everything that happens, even cancer, somehow has divine purpose behind it. But what we see, what we hear in the readings Tom chose for today, is that God’s power is manifest as love. Nothing, Romans says, including death, can separate us from the love of God.
A God of mystery who is insistently present with us in the form of love. I spent a lot of hours and drank more than a few pints of beer talking about this God with Tom. The conviction that divinity flows through each person and calls us to defend the dignity of each person… the conviction that the divine mystery calls us to listen steadfastly for God in our midst… this is the spirituality of Tom Fisher.
This was no accident. It was no affect that he put on. This was Tom. The man who worked for Civil Rights knew something of the sacred mystery of each person. The father of Morgan and Jess knew something of the beauty of possibility, the unfolding mystery of each child, and the love that allows them to thrive. The man who went to seminary before becoming a financial advisor knew something of the importance of letting each person decide who they are, of being prepared to act. The man who helped lead this church into existence knew something of patient listening and of the transfixing mystery that guides people of God. The photographs reflect the man who took them.
And so we are gutted today, because we have lost Tom. His steadiness, wisdom, and love were never more evident than in the months since his diagnosis, when Tom’s choices were guided by the value of the present, by his ability to find depth and love in a time freighted with the grim prospects of a dire disease.
More than anyone I’ve known, Tom led those he loved through the end of his life. He took care of us. He sat and talked frankly about the end of life. He told me stories of gratitude for time with Morgan and Jess and their families, of his delight in the people his children had become and the people they had married, stories of the magic of his grandchildren, of his sheer awe at the compassionate force of Candy’s love. Life, he knew, had been good.
So this hurts. And it will hurt. It is love’s dark insult to us. To love is to eventually be heartbroken. And Tom knew that love is simply the most important thing. He was right. So this hurts.
But those pictures…
The moments that Tom sought to capture are sacred, but they are not rare. Our days are infused with the potential for something new to happen, something more than we would imagine. This is the movement of the insistently loving God of mystery, the God who now bears Tom in the glory of divine memory and presence, working through the miracle of relationship to ensure that when we notice the depth of mystery in a seemingly ordinary moment, Tom will be with us. And we will feel gratitude, and we will feel pain. At the same time. There is no prescribed ratio of the two.
Those ordinary moments, when refracted through the prism of clear presence to the moment, are the kingdom of God. To be fully present in God’s creation, in this precise moment which is the only moment that is actually happening, is to see that the boundaries between us are not so clear. We will miss Tom, but we will feel Tom’s presence when we allow ourselves to be present, because Tom is, in a very real way, a part of us. All of this.. this life… is space held open by God so that we might intertwine in relationship, so that we might, acting from love, create beauty from the very possibilities that lie before us. I understand this better than I did before because I was given the tremendous gift of being Tom Fisher’s friend.
It is all a wildly improbable miracle, one in which we are now rightly grieving the loss of this man who was woven deeply into so many lives. Even in this painful moment, the beauty and mystery of Tom’s life draws us in like one of his pictures. We want to know more. We want another conversation. Another dinner.
This is the mark of a life well lived. Of a man who was deeply loved and who loved deeply. It is grace that intersected our lives with his, and it is grace that will allow us to know his presence in those future moments when the mysterious unknown of life speaks to us of something more. Something we can’t touch but can marvel at.
There is so much in those pictures. So much behind them. God knows we will miss Tom, and God knows we will feel him with us yet. It’s in the pictures.
Through the summer, Sarah McGiverin and Paul Marvin will be leading a discussion of the Sermon on the Mount. We will meet Sunday mornings before the Eucharist, 10:00 – 10:50.
Each week we’ll read a portion of the sermon and discuss it together.
Whether you’re an old pro at Bible studies or you’re brand new to the Sermon on the Mount, you are invited to join in the study.
Sing and stomp along as the Advocate Acoustics lead us in a Blue Grass Mass this Sunday.
Blue Grass music is indigenous to the southeastern united states. It’s popularity in our region is reflected in numbers festivals held each year, from MerleFest to the Union Grove Old Time Fiddlers Convention. So twice a year or so The Advocate brings this musical style to our worship. Now part of our intended “Traditioned Innovation” liturgy, Sundays at 11 AM.
Songs to include:
Jesus is On The Mainline
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
Let The Mystery Be
I Have Found The Way
I’ll Fly Away
Sunday, June 17, at 11 AM.
Come on your own, or bring a friend!
Have you ever wanted to study the wonderful, diverse and rich Hebrew Scriptures more deeply, but you’ve found the cost or time commitment of some programs prohibitive? Beginning in September, the Rev. Lera Tyler is offering a nine-month study of the Hebrew Scripture, using as text: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Fortress Press, Second Edition 2014) by John J. Collins.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival begins 40 Days of Nonviolent Direct Action to stir the conscience of our country.
During these six weeks, The Advocate will offer a reading group for those interested in sustaining our analysis of whiteness and deepening our understanding of Christianity’s role in the history of American racism.
We will read local theologian Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s new book, Reconstructing The Gospel: Finding Freedom From Slaveholder Religion.
Two copies are available on loan from the Advocate library.
We will discuss the book on Wednesday nights from 7:15-8:15 (except June 13, which is. Reader’s Roundtable night). More info to come!