This Week at Ascension + December 22, 2021

"Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." - Psalm 96
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
the world has suffered long;
beneath the heavenly hymn have rolled
two thousand years of wrong;
and warring humankind hears not
the tidings which they bring;
O hush the noise and cease your strife
and hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on,
by prophets seen of old,
when with the ever-circling years
shall come the time foretold,
when peace shall over all the earth
its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world give back the song
which now the angels sing.

Hymnal 1982, #90, vv. 3-4
From the Rector
Omicron Christmas ...
Please review all that follows with regard to navigating, remaining healthy and safeguarding others' health for our Christmas masses.

var·i·ant /ˈverēənt/ noun

  1. a form or version of something that differs in some respect from other forms of the same thing or from a standard.

Dear people of Ascension,

For better or worse, variant may well be the word of the year for 2021. And now, as the year winds down, a new variant -- Omicron -- requires our attention, adaptation, innovation and patience. Having now heard in the past 24 hours related direction and counsel from Mayor Lightfoot, Bishop Knudsen and a gathering of parish leaders (by Zoom this morning), let me get right to it:

  • At this point, we intend to proceed with all in-person masses for the coming weekend as planned (see below). 

  • Coffee hours and receptions are suspended until further notice (including, sadly, the festive reception that we typically enjoy following the Christmas Eve midnight mass).

  • Regrettably, I tested COVID-positive this morning, having learned that someone with whom I shared dinner on Saturday tested positive on Sunday afternoon. I am now experiencing moderate symptoms. I will need to absent myself from all in-person parish activities (including masses and pastoral meetings) during a quarantine period through the New Year. Health and energy permitting, I will continue to serve the parish remotely from the rectory.

  • Per our protocols, the Ascension staff and I will separately contact all who took part in either December 19 mass (in which I took part prior to learning of my exposure to someone who later tested positive and prior to my own positive test result).

  • Please contact the parish office and/or me if you have recently been at a mass and have tested positive. You will not become a newsletter headline, as I have, but the information will allow us to follow up with fellow mass-goers.

  • We will return to every-other-pew seating for the congregation, though for now we will not revisit pre-registration or attendance limits.

  • Please refrain from in-person worship and join others instead by way of our excellent live-streaming options IF
  • you are unvaccinated, or
  • have known health/immunity risks, or
  • have any cold, flue or known COVID symptoms.
  • Count on some changes to some or all liturgies in order to account for my absence, optimize social distancing and/or in the event of no-shows by those scheduled to minister who may become unavailable.

  • The in-person 10:30 p.m. Christmas Eve music program is a 'go' at this time and will also be live-streamed.

  • All who lead worship are now asked to remain masked, even when leading, reading, singing or greeting.

  • For your well-being and the well-being of others, please consider wearing an N95 or KN 95 mask or similar. KN95 masks are available at the church.

  • Please do register with an usher in the narthex if you will be a member of the congregation and follow other protocols by now familiar (e.g. handwashing!).

Finally, as has been the case since the start of the pandemic, let us together continue to find a sensible via media between extremes of political interpretations and between, for instance, personal anxiety and indifference. And please join me in praying to see among us signs of the hope, joy and promise that we celebrate our Savior's birth.

In the event of further changes before the weekend, they will be communicated in a special edition newsletter on Friday at Noon. (If nothing by Noon on Friday -- no further changes.)
Today: Wednesday, December 22
St. Thomas the Apostle (trans.)

6:00 p.m. Evening Prayer via ZOOM

6:30 p.m. Sung Mass: In-person &

Upcoming at Ascension

Thursday, December 23, 4:00 p.m.
Help with Christmas flowers.
Contact Claire Green or just show up
(if vaccinated, symptom free, etc.)

Christmas Eve - Friday, December 24
Organ Voluntaries & Carols, 10:30 p.m.
Solemn High Mass of the Nativity with Procession

Christmas Day, December 25
Choral Mass (full choir), 10:00 a.m.
In person only (no live stream)

First Sunday after Christmas Day, December 26
9:00 a.m. Sung Mass (in person only)
11:00 a.m. Sung Mass with Schola

Second Sunday after Christmas Day, January 2
9:00 a.m. Sung Mass (in person only)
11:00 a.m. Solemn High Mass, Baptism(s)*
3:30 p.m. Organ Recital, Jay Peterson*
4:00 p.m. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament*

Feast of the Epiphany, Thursday, January 6
Evening Prayer, 6:00 p.m. via ZOOM
Sung mass with Schola, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, January 8th
St. Anthony of Padua Food Pantry

Claire Green asks all Flower Guild members, and invites all others who would like to help, to join her on Thursday 12/23 at 4pm to decorate the church for Christmas.
Christmas Eve December 24

Solemn Procession to the Creche and
The First Mass of the Nativity

10:30 p.m. Organ Voluntaries and Congregational Carols

11:00 p.m. In-person &
Live-streamed Solemn High Mass
Mass setting: Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo (“Kleine Orgelmesse”)

Image: The Celestial Virgin and Child, from a book of hours (text in Latin),
Paris, about 1420, Spitz Master. The Victoria & Albert Museum, London

December 25
Christmas Day

10:00 a.m.
In-person only Choral Mass with the Ascension Choir
Mass setting: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525-1594)
Missa Aeterna Christi munera

This Mass will not be live-streamed.

 Image: The Nativity, illumination for the hour of Prime in the Très riches heures, illuminated manuscript by the Limbourg Brothers. France, ca. 1412–1416.

Sunday, December 26

The First Sunday after Christmas Day

8:30 a.m. - Morning Prayer via ZOOM

9:00 a.m. In-person only Sung Mass with Organ and Hymns

11:00 a.m. In-person &
Solemn High Mass
Mass setting: Congregational Mass setting

Image: The Word Became Flesh, by the contemporary artist known as Theophilia, 2015, multimedia
The text in Arabic is of the Prologue to the Gospel of John (1:1-18).

From Warden Kenneth Kelling

Dear fellow parishioners,
The message I was to write for today and that was to be at the head of the newsletter has given way to Fr. Raymond's important COVID updates for our well-being. I'll keep this suitably brief.
In one way or another, all of us associate the giving and receiving of gifts with Christmas. (Do you derive more pleasure from receiving or from giving an excellent gift?) I don't often hear or see the theme of giving gifts at Christmas connected to the financial gifts we give to our parish Many of us make these gifts by way of pledges and the fulfilling of them and other special or one-time gifts.
The central 'giving' motive often gets lost, I fear, in the never-resolved tension between those who think of money given to the church in terms of 'keeping the doors open and paying the bills' and those who think of giving first and foremost as a spiritual discipline.
These views need not be mutually exclusive. As I see it, we need to keep the lights on AND none of what we aspire to do and share in faith in the church works if we are not also active participants, by way of our various gifts: time, talent, treasure, prayers, rolling up our sleeves when needed and more.
Please if you are able, join others in giving to Ascension in 2022 by way of your financial pledge -- and, of course, more.

Ken Kelling, Junior Warden
If you have not yet seen it, please ...

(And don't miss the photos!)
Last call for 2022 Calendars!

This is the last week to drop off those free calendars you’ve received from nonprofit organizations and local businesses. I will deliver these calendars to Refugee One next Wednesday morning, December 29. These calendars will help new and incoming refugees adjust to their new lives and schedules in Chicago. 

Thank you to all who have already donated calendars. We have quite a stack already, but more are always welcome! You can put them in my mailbox in the parish house or in the basket in the narthex before or after any mass ... until Sunday! 

Seminarian Bonnie Scott's sermon for
The Fourth Sunday of Advent may be read here.

Also from Bonnie Scott

The Christmas season always leaves me reflecting on how to put faith into action and serve those who are most in need. With COVID cases rising, many non-profits and service organizations are being forced to re-evaluate the ways in which they are currently serving their communities. My hope is that I can lead a homeless outreach initiative in the new year once organizations have had a chance to evaluate the COVID situation and make changes as needed. If you are interested in joining me and staying up to date with additional outreach initiatives, please email me at Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! 

Many Blessings, 
Organ Repertoire for December 26, 2021
Three settings: Das alte Jahr vergangen ist
Opus 8, no.3
Hugo Distler (1908-1942)
BWV 614 & 1091
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
At the Entrance Procession
At the Offertory
At the Communion
At the Retiring Procession
Hymn-Fantasy on
God Rest Ye Merry [ca. 1899]
William Thomas Best (1826-1897)

About our 2021 Repertoire
As I develop a long-range plan for repertoire each year, I choose a theme or area of emphasis, often complete works or a complete large-scale work by one composer. During 2021, organ music by women composers and African-American composers is being and will be featured in voluntaries and recitals throughout the year. There are some little-known gems waiting to be discovered, as well as music by major composers, with whom works for the organ are not generally associated. Enjoy!

Between Masses, please don’t forget that The Choir of the Ascension has recorded upwards of 60 tracks that you can listen to anywhere you have an internet connection. They can be found here:
Ascension Connections
(with your click and God's help)
Participate in Ascension masses at our YouTube Channel. (Look for other connections options soon.)
Meeting ID:
792 031 7452
Password: 1133
Join-by-Phone Option: (312) 626-6799

Weekly Ascension Schedule

For connections:
via Zoom (click here)

8:30 a.m. Morning Prayer via Zoom
9:00 a.m. In-person Sung Mass
11:00 a.m. In-person and Live-Streamed Solemn High Mass

7:30 A.M. Morning Prayer via FACEBOOK LIVE
6:00 p.m. Evening Prayer via Zoom

6:30 p.m. Said Mass
Please give generously as you are able.
Treasurer Susan Schlough has asked me to remind you of Ascension's ongoing expenses at this time. To the extent that you are able, payment on your pledges or the offering of Holy Day or other special gifts will be greatly appreciated. You may still write a check and mail it to the church, or online payment is possible through the buttons at various places on our website. Thank you!
For our prayers: The Rev. Canon Paula Clark, August 'Augie' Alonzo, Jim Berger, Sarah Ponder, 
Taffy Wehe, Beth Hall, Sue Lenz, Ben, David D. Jones, Carys and Joshua Benjamin, Lawrence Cox, Gina, Tom Baer, Mary Stetson, Lillian Alexander, Patricia Grisham, Miguel, Edward Minieka, Sjon Brouwer

Birthdays: Alison Wallace, 12/20; Jim Walsh, 12/20; Jake Matthew Keller, 12/23/2008
Requiescat in pace: Irene Thompson Malick, 12/19/2011; Henry Klages, 12/21/1987;
Ruth Ehlen, 12/22/2002, Steven Upmeyer, Glenn Turquend

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them;
May their souls and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

The Rev. Patrick Raymond, Rector

The Rev. Meghan Murphy-Gill, Curate

Susan Schlough, Treasurer

Br. Nathanael Deward Rahm BSG, Parish Office
Vestry of Church of the Ascension
Cheryl Peterson, Sr. Warden; Kenneth Kelling, Jr. Warden; Kelly Colomberti, Marilyn Evans, Lynette Hector, Jim Lo Bello, George Pineda, David Reeves, Samuel Sommers, Enrique Vilaseco, Amber Zelazny

Approved minutes of Vestry meetings are always available online to parishioners who request the link. If you would like Internet access to these Vestry Minutes, please email the Parish Office and request the link. Once you access the web page, you can read all recent Vestry meeting minutes.
The link remains live indefinitely. Any parishioner who has the link will not need to request a new link from month to month.