Sunday, December 9
An Advent Service
of Lessons & Carols
4:00 p.m.

Choral Works by Palestrina, Manz, Britten,  Saint-Saëns, Howells, Rose, Victoria and 

Followed by a reception in the Ascension Rectory

S t. John the Baptist , tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on  parchment, Taddeo Crivelli,
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Sunday, December 9
The Second Sunday
of Advent

7:30 a.m. Morning Prayer 
8:00 a.m. Said Mass (Rite I)
9:00 a.m. Sung Mass 
11:00 a.m. Solemn High Mass 

William Byrd (c. 1540-1623)
Mass for Four Voices

"...  the word of God came to John son of Zechariah  in the wilderness ..."  Luke 3:2 

This Week at Ascension + December 5 , 2018


From the Rector
Also from the Rector
Art and Faith of the Creche
Sharing Lunch, Sharing Blessings
Today at Ascension
This Sunday at Ascension
The Parish Prayer List
Approved Vestry Minutes Online
The Last Word


Guest Readers for the Centenary of Lessons & Carols
Dear people of Ascension,
   Asking guests to read at Lessons and Carols is a custom that I inherited when I became rector of a former parish in a smaller town. There, the lessons are read by community leaders such as the mayor and fire chief. In the event that the high school has had a winning football season, the team's coach may also be asked.
   When I inquired about the origin of the guest readers, it was pointed out to me that both reaching out to the community and bringing the larger community together were motives for what is often considered the first Lessons and Carols. It took place in the chapel of King's College, Cambridge, one hundred years ago, in the immediate aftermath of World War I.
   I grew to genuinely appreciate and relish the custom of guest readers in my former parish, and I hope of course that you may see the value and meaning in it as well for us at Ascension. It's partly an opportunity for us to be catholic - to be tangibly reminded of and welcome those with whom we share Christian faith and witness beyond our own walls, concerns and interests. I'm also trusting that our guest readers will positively experience Ascension and will share their positive impressions of us 'out there.'
   In the case of readers for this coming Sunday, I didn't bother calling Rahm Emanuel or Big Ten champions football coach Pat Fitzgerald from Northwestern. I am, however, humbled and gratified by the positive responses of those who will be joining us. They all practice important ministry and leadership in their own spheres and positively influence the lives and faith of many.
   Please join me in looking forward to a beautiful and meaningful Lessons & Carols and in welcoming all who will be our guests.
The Choir of King's College, where Lessons & Carols is still shared annually
and broadcast around the world.
The first Lessons & Carols mentioned above was a Christmas Eve service. Advent Lessons & Carols was introduced in 1934, also at King's College. You may read more on the King's College website here.
Our guest readers for Lessons & Carols , clockwise from top center in the photo below, will include:
The Rev. Stacy Alan, Chaplain, Brent House, University of Chicago
The Rev. Matthew Berryman, Executive Director,
Episcopal Charities  and Community Services
The Rev. Canon Lisa Hackney-James, Sub-Dean, St. James Cathedral
The Rev. Dr. Micah Jackson, President, Bexley-Seabury Seminary
The Rev. Tom Johnson, Pastor, First St. Paul's Lutheran Church
The Rev. Jihan Murray-Smith, Deacon and Chaplain, St. Chrysostom's Church
The Rev. Anthony Vaccaro, MD, Assisting Clergy, Church of Our Saviour
Speaking of guests for Lessons & Carols ... Please consider bringing a few of your own! And plan to join Brooke and me, our guest readers and our musicians at the reception to follow in the Ascension rectory - 1119 North LaSalle Drive, if you're unaware.
Bakers or not, all are welcomed to join my wife Brooke and Me this evening for cookie baking. We already got a head start, having prepared four batches of cookie dough last night. Most of the cookies baked tonight will be saved for sharing at the Sunday evening reception. We'll get underway shortly after the end of the 6:30 p.m. mass (probably around 7:15 p.m.).
The Requiem Mass for parishioner and Vestry member Wanda Dole will take place this Friday, December 7, at Noon. Thanks to all who have agreed to share in the ministries of worship and hospitality. You may read Wanda's obituary here. Wanda's love for music and for the sacred music here at Ascension is meaningfully reflected in the request that memorial gifts be made to the Ascension music program.
My Pastoral Letter on the Ministry of Ordained Women at Ascension was included in the annual Advent mailing, sent last week to all members and others on our mailing list. You may read the letter here, and please note that members of the parish are welcomed to respond in a variety of manners. Please also know that although I've asked Father Bob Petite to facilitate conversations on December 16, I myself will be present and will answer questions appropriate to my ministry as Rector.
The Vestry Nominating Committee has been hard at work
and met again yesterday, December 4. We have a full slate of candidates and are following up on a few more inquiries. Nominating Committee members welcome further inquiries and nominations, prior to the December 16 Vestry meeting, at which the Vestry will approve a final slate for presentation to the parish in anticipation of the January 27, 2019, annual meeting. You may read an overview of the Vestry's leadership here, and you may view and print a Nomination Form here. Nominating committee members include Jim Drury, Cliff Green, Ken Kelling, Tim Kowalski and Cynthia Perrizo.
Behold the new alarm system keypad  and take note all who use Ascension's security system. The keypad has been moved to the right of the parish house entry doors across from the doors into Wheeler Hall BUT AS WE GO TO PRINT IT HAS NOT BEEN ACTIVATED. Once the installation is complete your existing codes will work, and please be on the lookout for signs that indicate which keypad to use. Thanks.
A Big Thanks to all who helped with our project to provide gifts of undergarments to men who take part in the work of St. Leonard's MinistriesAnd a double thanks to Jim Lenz for his vision and related shopping for socks-on-sale and more throughout the fall. It was great to have three members of the St. Leonard's staff with us for a while in Wheeler Hall on Sunday as the project was finalized.
My sermon from this past Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, may be viewed here.
The nearby Loyola Museum of Art is once again offering it's Art and Faith of the Crèche exhibit through January 12, 2019.  The website description of the exhibit includes this tantalizing information: "Continuing LUMA's effort to place the global in conversation with the local, LUMA will also present six new crèches created by Chicagoland artists this year ... one-of-a-kind nativity scenes specifically designed for this exhibition." 
Wednesday,  December 12th is the next opportunity to share in this lunch group.  We meet together right after the 12:05 mass.  We will be treated to a traditional Swedish feast of meatballs, scalloped potatoes, salad, and lingonberries prepared by Carol Noren in honor of Sankta Lucia (St. Lucy).  Carol will provide some background on Sankta Lucia celebrations (held on December 13th) in Sweden.  All participants are welcome to share the blessings of other celebrations that are important to them during this season of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany.  Feel free to bring a poem, a hymn setting, or a scripture that inspires you.  Or just tell about an experience of this season that you cherish.  Contact Cheryl Peterson at 773-322-7995 if you wish to contribute something to the day's printed handout.    

Wednesday, December 5
Commemoration of 
Clement of Alexandria

6:10 p.m. Evening Prayer
6:30 p.m. Said Mass


The  Sunday Lectionary readings Schedules of Acolytes, Lectors & Ushers as well as Hymnody, Motets and Organ Voluntaries for  Sunday, December 9, 2018 may be found by clicking  here

The Lector's Pronunciation Guide may be found here .


Please remember these people in your daily prayers
Geoffrey Wainwright, Fr. John Graham, Dorothy Murray, Mary Lou Devens, Michael Milano, Thomas Holden, Brenton Boitse, Charley Taylor, Marlea Edinger, David Belding, Jr., August 'Augie' Alonzo, Ann Halikas, Emily Cole, Fr. Richard Daly, Kenvert Samuel, Carnola Malone, David Reeves, James Krusas Sr., Regina Krusas

Prayers for the departed
Prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of Ascension parishioner  Wanda Dole.

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

The Approved Minutes of Vestry meetings are now available online to parishioners who request the link.  If you would like Internet access to the Approved Vestry Minutes, please email the  Church Office and request the link. 
Once you access the web page, you can read all recent Approved Vestry Minutes.  In addition, if you click on the subscribe button at the top right, you will be given email notice whenever a new set of Approved Minutes is added. 


The Advent essay below, by a Roman Catholic parish priest, reminds me of our own urban ministry environment here at Ascension. Father Raab insightfully captures and reflects on the paradoxical nature of encounters and relationships that I experience, and I gather many of you experience, with some of our own neighbors here.

A reading from the prophet Bonnie: An Advent essay
By Father Ronald Raab, C.S.C.
Advent always opens me up. Just when I think I am in control of my life and ministry, I am confronted by the challenges of a new liturgical year. The prophets get under my skin. The gospels splash my soul to surprise and awaken me.
Never has Advent shaken my priorities as the year Bonnie camped out in front of the red doors at our urban parish. Our small chapel in Old Town, Portland, Oregon serves our low-income neighbors, our homeless friends, and people just getting on their feet after prison. Just before Thanksgiving Bonnie wheeled a shopping cart to the front door filled with her stolen treasures: picture frames and toys, extra sweaters and fake flowers.
Bonnie signed up for our hospitality center on her first morning in search of new clothing and a warm breakfast. Her boundless energy disturbed everyone's routine in the small basement room. Suddenly our entire staff, volunteers, and the room full of guests awakened to her forceful presence. We panicked as she stuffed food into her pockets, paperback novels under her jacket, and rolls of toilet paper in her plastic bag.
Bonnie's kleptomania unnerved the staff, her penetrating voice disturbed many of our shy guests, and her wiry presence evoked fear in me. Bonnie began her Advent journey by disturbing our entire operation.
She prayed during Mass on her first day with a voice that could stop a train, screaming out every liturgical response at the right time but with a dozen extra words. She threw off the rhythm of our common prayer so completely that the entire congregation stopped speaking. People erupted with complaints and tried to quiet her. Bonnie persisted with her prayer.
Many of us were left confused and bewildered in those first few days with Bonnie. She stirred up resentment among our neighbors, angered many parishioners, and even blocked people from entering our front door.
But I also began to notice something shift inside me. Slowly I opened my eyes to see her differently. I began to hear the message of Jesus in Mark's gospel: "Be watchful! Be alert!" Bonnie shook me out of my own sleepiness toward people who suffer beyond my imagining. I started to interpret her disturbing actions and screeching voice as our Advent wake-up call, a real prophet in our midst.
She challenged our professional ideals regarding how we deal with crisis and how we try to keep order as we serve the poor. As the voice crying out in the desert, she echoed the words of Isaiah and John the Baptist to get our acts together and let go of our control. Bonnie was not going to let us get too comfortable thinking we were in charge of our lives or even of the parish. Once we all began to see her as a gift to us, she started to change our experience both of her and of the Advent season.
One day during Mass I heard Bonnie screaming outside the chapel. She was trying to stop people from stealing her things. When Bonnie started screaming, I saw one of our parishioners leap out of the pew to go outside. There was something about her scream that day that was raw and primal.
I felt deep sadness rise up in me. Bonnie was communicating to us that many things in our society are not right. Her haunting scream reminded me of all the ancient prophets who tried to get the attention of people to reform their lives and society. I heard in her scream the challenge to wake up and realize that addicts need shelter and sobriety, people need adequate housing, and the mentally ill need affordable medications. I felt in her scream the poverty of the world.
Bonnie also changed my perceptions of her loud responses at Mass. In the very predictable patterns of common prayer, I understood by her piercing voice that those who are marginalized by poverty or mental illness need to be heard. Mass could no longer be prayed on autopilot. We had to think about what, how, and why we were praying the liturgy. She made us think about our responses to the Word that was proclaimed. She halted us in the middle of blindly reciting the Creed. Like the biblical prophets before her, she was teaching us how to pray and live with new awareness and intention.
Bonnie still reminds me that most of the suffering around us remains hidden and secret. She helps me realize we all must take on the prophet's role when disease, poverty, loneliness, and financial instability grab hold of our communities. People who suffer silently need the voices of the rest of us to speak up for the abandoned and neglected. The Advent season calls for courage and conviction to make faith real, inviting, truthful. Advent is a time to go deeper into our human condition, beyond the surface of relating to one another from our financial status or educational backgrounds or the styles of clothing we wear.
One day Bonnie approached a woman named Sally, who was born with one arm shorter than the other. Bonnie walked up to Sally and said, "Don't worry about that arm, honey. When Jesus comes back, he will fix that right up for you!" Bonnie really believes in Emmanuel, God-with-us. She even voiced God's consolation and joy announced in the prophet Isaiah: "Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God."
I thank God for our prophet Bonnie. Even though she washed her glazed donuts in our baptismal font, collected our hymnals in her shopping cart, and took hundreds of our plastic rosaries to wear around her neck, we all recognized that she carried Christ into our midst. She unstuck my notion that Advent is about the purple polyester fabric in the sanctuary or the flattened, artificial greens with faded, purple ribbons posing as the circle of life. She helped me break open the lie that Christmas is for the rich and well-deserving. God desires to be in relationship with all of God's beloved.
Before Bonnie left our parish, she knelt down in front of the crèche on Christmas Eve. Several parishioners feared her kleptomania as she approached the newborn king. Instead, poised in prayer, she placed a clean, meticulously folded purple blanket in the small stable. It was her cleanest blanket, her source of warmth on the cold Portland streets.
I never realized I would find the birth of Jesus in the center of mental illness, homelessness, and my own insecurity. God gave us the gift of hope years ago in a small stable and continues to grace us with real human beings who teach us that faith is about relationship. I wait patiently for Advent this year to see if our prophetic sister returns. I wait for love again to awaken me.  
This article appeared in the December 2008 issue of  U.S. Catholic
(Vol. 73, No. 12, pages 33-34).

Fr. Patrick Raymond,

Susan Schlough,      

Parish Office