“I’m Bishop John, greeting you this first week of Advent from historic Church of the Advent in Los Angeles, which organized exactly 101 years ago this week.
“The parish is named after the home parish in Boston of Bertrand Stevens, who was the second bishop of Los Angeles.
“It’s one of our diocese’s missions and parishes serving our siblings of African descent, a place where people still remember and talk about the legendary Nat King Cole singing in the Advent choir; they remember being here when his children were baptized; they remember celebrating when he and his wife, Maria, beat down a racist residential covenant under their feet when they bought their house in Hancock Park.
“It’s a church whose brilliant, devoted rector these 22 years, the Rev. Vanessa Mackenzie – the first black woman ever to have served as a rector of a church in the city of Johannesburg – was my gracious host, she and all of her people, just this last Sunday for a wonderful first Sunday of Advent service featuring three more glorious baptisms.
“It’s a service where we also had a reflection by the somewhat long-winded preacher, namely me, on the Advent teaching that the Lord is coming; we just don’t know the time or the place – the teaching that we had better be ready to show our Lord when he does come the bricks we have laid and the seeds we have sown to prepare a place for him and all his people, a place of righteousness and peace, a place of ultimate belonging and justice.
“My siblings in Christ, soon after the pandemic started in 2020, you have been giving generously to our One Body & One Spirit Appeal. It started as an emergency appeal; now it is our diocesan Annual Appeal. With all the funds we’ve raised – a half million dollars so far – they go right back out to the missions, parishes, and other institutions in the form of scores of grants averaging about $7,500 each to help with expenses and ministries and programs above and beyond their annual budgets.
“My friends, all over the diocese we’re getting ready for the holidays and the new year. We’re getting ready for the baby in Bethlehem, and the coming of Christ’s kingdom of love. We’re throwing off the anxieties and fears and misgivings of these times, and we’re building up these communities of fellowship and care that we share. They are base camps for abundant life that nurture us for all the work we have to do out in the world.
“This Advent, from Advent, on Giving Tuesday, I send you greetings and invite you to visit diocesela.org. Click on the link at the top of home page and use Apple Pay or your credit card to make your gift today. We take checks, too. However you give, please do it today, because we’re distracted and weary sometimes; we have a lot on our minds especially this time of year. But the Lord is coming, and the Lord always has our backs in the meantime.
“And we know how good it feels whenever we lay a brick or plant a seed to build up our neighbor and to build up these communities of faith that are our most precious heritage, to prepare a place for our Lord to comfort and protect his people.
“On behalf of all of us at St. Paul’s Commons, I send you blessings and commend you to a holy Advent.”