On 2nd Advent, Bishop Bill visited Grace and Faith Anglican Church in Bridgewater, MA. This is one parish with two worshipping communities led by The Rev. Leah Turner and the Ven. Dorcas Albright, Archdeacon of our Kenyan churches. Church attendance for the combined service was around 280, and it was an enthusiastic crowd that greeted Bishop Bill on his final episcopal visit. Lots of visitors came to celebrate a successful parish life and the past year of mission and ministry. The parish has a healthy youth group and youth choir, with the youth signed up for both the diocesan youth retreat to Berea and to the Summit for Life in January.
Bishop Bill and Sally Murdoch shared a farewell dinner with both vestries and leaders the Saturday night beforehand, in order to celebrate the Bishop’s work with them and his upcoming retirement.
Bishop Bill celebrated and preached during the service, along with confirming and baptizing twelve. He preached on Malachi 3:1-5 and Isaiah 40:3, teaching that the road through Advent is made simple and clear for movement in both directions. The messenger, prophesied in the Old Testament, who will make straight paths in the wilderness is presented in Malachi as a refiner and a fuller: a refiner of silver, burning away impurities, and a fuller, someone who cleans cloth and dyes it white. Both those images were applied to John the Baptist by the Church. He was referred to as the Fuller in the Middle Ages.
The ministry and message of Advent is one of preparation for the coming of God into our lives, first through repentance, penitential prayer, and action, and then through the revelation that the Lord comes to us in humility and lowliness. This revelation humbles us and opens us up to his love, as he comes to walk with us and bring us home. The language of Isaiah 40 is not only a call to make the road straight for God to come to us, but to make it easy for us to go to God with valleys made high, mountains made low, and the rough places made smooth. That’s the picture of God’s work in our life, reflected in Advent, as we move towards him and he moves towards us.
Please keep the continued partnership and ministry of Grace and Faith in your prayers, as they begin the road through this coming year and into the next season of life that the Lord has for them.