|177: Church of the Advent, Boston, Massachusetts, USA|
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Mystery Worshipper: Livia Columba.
The church: Church of the Advent, Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Denomination: Episcopal Church in the USA.
The building: Red brick Victorian, not particularly interesting on exterior. Once inside, however, one feels one's died and gone to England.
The neighbourhood: Situated in Boston's Beacon Hill, a very desirable location comprised of old brick and stone townhomes nestled cheek to jowl, gas lamps, brick walkways and streets and lovely flower-framed doorways. Beautiful Boston-dowager elegance.
The cast: Rev Allan Warren, Rector. Rev Richard Daly, who is also an active-duty policeman with the Chicago Police Dept., was the guest homilist.
What was the name of the service?
Solemn Mass and Procession, Sixth Sunday of Easter (Rogation Sunday).
How full was the building?
Comfortably full, probably around 66 per cent. This being the Memorial Day weekend, some parishioners were probably out of town.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
An usher did.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew wasn't bad, it actually had a loose cushion seat. The kneeler, however, was essentially a long, narrow footstool for two thin people, and difficult to maneuver.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Remarkably silent and conducive to meditation with no idle chitchat. A rarity in the church these days. Of course, this could also be attributable to the stiff-upper-lip culture of the area.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Alleluia, Christ is risen."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
1979 Book of Common Prayer, 1982 Hymnal, and a service leaflet.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
The usual distraction babies who fussed (but only briefly and were silent for the duration).
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Quite stiff-upper-lip, old-time Boston behavior.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8. Very heartfelt and warm.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Love and joy. God is love and his love is unconditional and eternal.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Most of it, but watching the incense rise in a languid curl into the soaring vault of the sanctuary while the choir sang splendidly, especially so.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
None of it.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Because it was Rogation Sunday and blessing the gardens was part of order of the day, we immediately processed outside, singing, around the church and down the street to the church's garden. There a reception was held in honor of their new curate, who was ordained to the diaconate the day before. There was, therefore, no opportunity to stand about at the back of the church. At the reception, one lady complimented me on my attire, but basically I had to introduce myself to people.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Quite pleasant and because of the special occasion, nice cakes and other edibles were in evidence. An added bonus coffee hour was more of a sherry hour, though I have assurances that this is not the norm.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5. Lovely liturgy, though a bit over-the-top Anglo-Catholic with many of the bit players garbed in an air of officiousness for officiousness' sake. I did not detect there being a sense of community here, which would make it difficult for me to be a regular, but I would definitely visit again.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, and it reinforced my joy in being Anglican in particular.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Very nearly all of it.