Advent and our services – a message from Reverend John

Rev. John Anderson

The gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent is Mark 13:24-37. Jesus describes the end and instructs his disciples to be on watch for signs of it. Not a very pleasant way to start Advent. This does not seem to encapsulate the joyous time of year represented in holiday parties, merrymaking, gift wrapping presents – yet this is not Advent.

In the services we have planned for Advent we will try to avoid jumping ahead to Christmas Eve! Before we can get to the part of God literally breaking into our world through the birth of Christ we have to get are hands dirty. Rather than being pushed into the joy, peace, hope, and love (as relayed to us in the Advent Candle Lighting) which comes in the good news of Christ’s birth; we need to ask why did this happen?

Advent is the opportunity to wrestle with difficult issues: sin, injustice, oppression, sickness, persecution, or poverty. It is about the failure of the earthly kingdoms to respond to our misery and the crying out for another way of living that is good and just. Advent has always been counter cultural to the populism of mainstream society.

Before we celebrate in the breaking of God into our lives we have to also see that God is breaking down many of the things we take for granted, and calling us to participate and challenge ourselves. So this Advent let us sit with and contemplate how the Scripture challenges us to not be complacent and not to rush ahead to Christmas!

 

In this season of Advent, 2014 a few changes have been made to our services.

On Wednesday, December 3, 10, and 17th there will be a mid-morning Eucharist commencing at 11:30 a.m. from page 230 of the BAS. It will follow the Scripture/Advent Study but there is no requirement to attend both. I have introduced this service for a couple of reasons. A number of you have indicated that they would like a mid-week service but prefer it not be in the evening.  Also, in the last two years we have done a Quiet Christmas in the evening and a number of people have remarked that they cannot come out at night or it was too close to Christmas. The intent of this spoken service is intended to be quiet and meditative as an opportunity to reflect on Advent within the context of the Lord’s Supper. It is my intent to also introduce a mid-week Eucharist during Lent.

Did you know that the Lesson and Carol service was introduced in 1918 at King’s College, Cambridge? Interestingly, there is no real established pattern for its observation. Many people have told me of their fond memories of celebrating Lesson and Carols on Christmas Eve. Angela and I want to respect the integrity of the Lesson and Carol service, involving the kids in a pageant of some sort, and making space for everyone on Christmas Eve.

On Sunday, December 21st or Advent 4 there will be a Lesson, Carols, & More service. We hope to bridge the tradition of our past with an interesting twist for all ages!

The last two Christmas Eves there has been a Messy Christmas and last year a Messy Dressy Christmas. They certainly have been fun but I feel there is separation of many of famlies from the wider church community. This year there will be one service Christmas Eve with a 7:00 pm carol sing and a 7:30 Eucharist. This will start with children assisting in a blessing of the crèche, and a variation of the Lessons and Carols some of you have observed in the past.  Father Don has graciously agreed to take on Christmas Day service at 10:00 a.m.

As always your input is always happily received – after New Years of course!!

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