A Contemplative Eucharist, Sundays at 5 PM

IMG_3456From Faulkner’s Light in August:

“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.”

IMG_4235In 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.

 

 

 

House Dinner — Wednesday evenings (and occasional Thursdays) at 7 PM

The Wednesday (or occasional Thursday) House Dinners provide a place of shared food, shared stories, and deep fellowship. The hosts provide an atmosphere of welcome, mutual care, and good humor.

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”).

You don’t need to bring anything but yourself. All are welcome any time. If you are able, it helps if you can let the organizers know you are coming and if you can contribute food to the meal, so they can be sure the food and setting are gracious and welcoming.

The House 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 or this document: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1imsKieu1P4Q-fVj6pJWZdSLATOj6K3bSQacFUKT26qs/edit?usp=sharing
Contact Elliot Krause <elliot.krause6@gmail.com> if you have any questions.

Epiphany Commissions

IMG_1962_2Realizing 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.

SAMPLE COMMISSIONS 

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.

Commissioned: Amen

Celebrant: This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Commissioned: Amen

—————————–

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

ResponseIn your name we pray

AllAmen

+++

 

 

Readers Roundtable 2nd Wednesdays at 7

IMG_0382The 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 Rachel Held Evans’ Searching for Sunday, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, 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, and Louise Erdrich’s Last Report on the Miracles of Little No Horse.

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 – Fall ’19 – Spring ’20 Selections

Second Wednesday of the Month, 7:00-8:30 PM

At the Church House

October 9:  Everything Happens for a Reason, and Other Lies I’ve Loved, by Kate Bowler. The frank and funny, dark and wise story of this Duke Divinity School professor, who re-examines her understanding of life through a terminal illness.

November 13: A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. An aristocrat under house arrest in a luxury hotel under Bolshevik rule discovers purpose in this humorously descriptive novel.

January 8: Ten Poems to Change Your Life, by Roger Housden. Ten heart-stirring poems which, along with the author’s reflections, may be a useful Epiphany meditation.

February 12: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s first novel provokes questions about race, class and gender.

May 13: The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood. The critically acclaimed sequel to The Handmaid’s tale, taking place more than fifteen years later. The lives of three radically different women converge in Gilead.

The Readers’ Roundtable meets at 7 – 8:30 pm in the Advocate House.

All are welcome!

Whether you’ve read the book or not, all are always welcome to join in the conversation!
For further information, contact Hilda Bukowski: hldscll2@gmail.com

“For Tom Fisher, On the Day of his Funeral” The sermon by Sam Laurent

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.

AMEN

Summer Discussion on The Sermon on the Mount, Sundays at 10 AM

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.

Study of Hebrew Scripture Starting in September

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.

Participants will meet at the Advocate weekly to study and reflect on the stories, poetry, and teachings of the Pentateuch, the Prophets, Psalms, Wisdom literature, and consider their relevance to us now.
If you are interested in exploring the possibility, please contact Lera Tyler. <lera.tyler@gmail.com>.

Reconstructing The Gospel: A Poor Peoples Campaign Conversation

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!

Seeing White: Teachable Moments in Eastertide

[A Teachable Moment takes place Sundays, 10:10 – 10:50 AM in The Advocate House.]
In this season of Easter, as we move within the extraordinary reality of resurrection, we will have a six-part series of Teachable Moments that we hope will renew our minds and inspire the work of our hands.
Many in our community hunger for a greater understanding of race as well as meaningful action toward racial equity. Mindful of this, a group of Advocates will be guiding us through a historical, political, and theological perspective on race, with a specific focus on the construction of whiteness. We will do so, in part, through listening to a podcast series entitled “Seeing White,” which is produced by Scene On Radio, a podcast from Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies.
Rather than attempt a reading group or a free-wheeling conversation on such a complex and sensitive topic, we will invite folks to listen to a specific episode of this series prior to the TM. These podcast episodes are short (usually about 30 minutes), and they provide excellent historical perspective alongside frank reflections and friendly conversations. We expect listening to this series will be a convenient and doable way for us all to share a frame of reference as we think together.
In addition to these TM’s, we are also planning informal dinners and movie screenings to offer more opportunities, and different spaces, for folks to talk and hang out.
Next Sunday (May 13th) we will be focusing our conversation on the final episode in the Scene On Radio podcast series ‘Seeing White.’ That is episode 14, ‘Transformation.’
You can access all episodes at the website http://podcast.cdsporch.org/seeing-white/ or through whatever podcast app you use. If there are any questions about how to access podcasts, please email CharlesRousseau10@gmail.com.
Thank you!

What Happens Easter “Day”?

What Happens Easter “Day”?  It begins Saturday after sunset….. 
[Holy Saturday at 10 AM, we gather in the chapel for a brief service of readings and prayers, to remember Jesus in the tomb and the Harrowing of Hell]
Saturday at 8 PM   The Paschal Fire and the Great Vigil of Easter (bring at bell or whistle)
Sunday at 9 AM      Easter Eucharist in the Chapel
Sunday at 10 AM    Festive Brunch and Easter Egg Hunt (Ham and rolls provided. As you are able, bring a dish to share. And if you want to collect hidden eggs, bring a basket!) 
Sunday at 11 AM    Easter Eucharist by the pond (bring a blanket or chair) 

According to our Gospel accounts, the resurrection took place in the dark of night with no witnesses. So for the Easter Vigil on Saturday night, we gather in the dark near the pond. We experience the excitement of the Light of Christ coming into the darkness as we light the Pashal fire, carry the Paschal candle in procession past kerosene soaked torches that burst into flame. Once in the Chapel, we hear the ancient Exultet chanted, and we keep vigil through the stories of creation and liberation. We remember our baptism through which we have been united with Christ, and we give the Paschal Shout, with bells and whistles, alleluias and a simple, celebratory dance.

Tradition has it, that the Eucharist of the Great Vigil of Easter is the principal Eucharist of the year, from which all the others are derived.
 
 Easter Morning, the celebration continues!

Easter Morning we celebrate the discovery of the resurrection – in the daylight — with beauty, joy, Eucharist. We’ve heard the story, now we live in the light of the resurrection. We cheer the ancient song: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tomb, bestowing life. And we dance.

Between the 9 AM and the 11 AM liturgies, we gather outside as the faithful community for fellowship and feast. Ham and rolls are provided. As you are able, please bring a festive dish to share. There will be an Easter egg hunt for the kids (yes, we know it is a pagan thing, but it sure is harmless and fun).
Please join us for any or all. You are very welcome at The Advocate!