Advent Sunday, 2021
Updated: Jan 19, 2022
Please join us this Advent Sunday at 8 am or 10 am for Communion. The 8 am service is simple, quiet, and candlelit. The 10 am service will include the singing of the classic Advent hymn 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel' (our hymn for the season of Advent). This link will take you to the Services page on our website where you can learn more about our 8 am and 10 am services. Note below, there is also a service of Holy Communion Tuesday morning at 8 am. All are welcome. Readings for this Sunday, November 28 (Advent Sunday): You may access the prayer and readings by following this link. You may read the RSV and ESV translations of the readings here. I touch on them below. If you have particular prayer requests or thanksgiving reports please share them with me. They will be offered to the Lord through the service and included in the service insert. Special feasts and fasts* (if you follow or wish to follow the Church's traditional devotion in this way): Monday evening November 29, the Vigil of St. Andrew (intentional watchful prayer and devotion). Tuesday, November 30, St. Andrew the Apostle. Holy Communion at 8 am in the Hall (the collect and readings for St. Andrew's Day are found on pages 205 and 206 in our BCP edition). If you intend to come to the Advent retreat (information below) please let me know. This retreat will go ahead if only for one person, but we'd like to provide coffee and refreshments. Please also gossip about this retreat to anyone you know who may be interested in it. For that matter, feel free to forward these emails as a form of gossip also... Not as form of spam... :) Now, if you are up for further reading, here are some personal reflections for the season of Advent: As you know, we are entering a period of extraordinary activity (complicated by COVID of course, as well as natural disasters and supply chain disruption). There is overindulgence, nostalga, and deep longings for uncomplicated and genuine human relationships (longings sometimes deepened further by a keen awareness of broken, or far from uncomplicated relationships). For some of us, it's the 'most wonderful time of the year'. For others, it's all complicated, stressful, or painful. More often than not we are probably struck by a number of contrary or contradictory experiences and feelings. The traditional season of Advent is more necessary and valuable even as many Christian churches dilute, marginalize, or ignore it completely. From now until Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost) our ancient cycle of readings take on a clear logic and focus in each season. Advent is uniquely clear in this respect, and I suggest this season presents us with a precious and important opportunity. There is nothing incidental about the Epistles and Gospels we will hear and upon which we will reflect in the lead up to celebrating the Nativity. In the midst of it all, we are called to simplicity and restraint (though Advent is not a season of fasting like Lent). We are called to be honest regarding who we are, and our need for God to save us from ourselves. We are called to contemplate afresh not simply the Incarnation of Jesus which occurred something like 2000 years ago, but also the awesome spectre of the Second Coming of Jesus and the Judgement which accompanies him. How are we to prepare for this? There are two themes to note this Sunday. The Apostle Paul commands, "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." In a world typified more and more by consumer debt, we are to regard love as the most valuable currency which we are to spend and lend to one another. He also commands, "let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." The battle against sin and the carnal aspects of our character defines spiritual warfare for the Christian. Two key injunctions: the positive command to love, and the call to resist and engage in spiritual warfare against the works of darkness that exist within us. To seek God's mercy and grace in order that we may engage in these two activities are the best ways to prepare for a true celebratory commemoration of Jesus' Nativity and for his second coming to us (unless under the mercy we go to meet him first). The one urges us to keep short accounts with one another and to actively work to restore broken relationships. The other urges us to look at ourselves squarely and accurately, take account of ourselves, and battle those aspects of our character which are destructive with all the force we can muster, under the mercy and grace of God through Jesus, and the enabling help of his Holy Spirit. One final thought (may I commend you, if you've read this far?). My personal desire is that the Lord will work in me and help me to achieve a better balance between feasting and fasting, between vigilance and leisure. It's ironic that when we neglect to fast and evade honest and humble penitence, we find that our feasts lose the full energy of celebration. Neither does leisure have its full restorative effect without the exercise of vigilance and effort (in general and also specifically in the Christian walk). Penitence is a strange even off-putting concept to many. Advent is not a season of fasting, but it is a season of penitence. Without seasons of penitence, our seasons of celebration are not made better, but rather worse. They become increasingly detached from reality and empty. "Almighty God, give us grace..."