Happy New Year! The first day of Advent is the first day of the Liturgical or Church year. We move into Year A, the one that uses the texts of Matthew to tell the gospel story. We begin again the great cycle of the interactions between God and humanity; the ever changing but always constant changing of the seasons and the years.
By the time you read this, we will have had our cookie baking extravaganza. My inclination is to say it went well. We have also begun our Advent Study. This year we are looking at the theology of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It's not too late to join the study. On December 16 at 6:30 PM we will be viewing one of the classic A Christmas Carol movies.
The Advent season is about preparing room for an infant's arrival. The process is likely to be introspective; is there room for Jesus in your heart? It is also likely to be messy. The world's understanding of Christmas and the Church's understanding are polar opposites. The world wants us to have full calendars, too much food, depleted finances, and feel good gatherings with people we don't even like. All this leads to exhaustion and a depletion of spiritual resources.
The Church has traditionally attempted to align the celebration of Advent and Christmas with the natural season of winter. We aim for introspection and fellowship that doesn't require a great deal of preparation but comes with good homey smells and bright lights. It is the time to celebrate the families we have created and to open wide our hearts to strangers and wonderers among us. A true celebration of Advent and Christmas should have plenty of time for watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, having cookies with one's favorite beverage, and naps.
We will have some special services as we draw near to Christmas. We will, again this year, have a Longest Night of Candle Light and Healing service. This will be Saturday, December 21 at 5:30 in the sanctuary. This year St. Andrews Episcopal will be making this service part of their Advent offerings. If you want to know more about the service, talk to Judy or Ceci.
We will be doing something different this Christmas Eve. We will have our traditional midnight service that starts at 11:00 PM, but we will have a family friendly service that starts at 4:30PM and will have a teddy bear presence. You are welcome to attend both!
I will again be hosting a Christmas morning service. This will be very simple, just a retelling of the Christmas story, singing favorite carols, and communion. This will be followed by social time in the narthex by the sanctuary. I will bring Christmas bread and have coffee ready. Anyone who chooses may bring something they would like to share.Last year this was a very blessed and heartwarming time.
As you begin Advent, it is my prayer that you will find a balance between the World's and the Church's celebration. May you find time for the family parties and naps. And may Christ find welcome in your heart.
Grace and peace,