Dear Friend in Christ,
Advent is a time of waiting. The new Church year begins on Advent 1, which this year is December 1st, but it isn’t only children who wait in expectation for Christmas. The word ‘expectation’ seems especially appropriate as we retell the story of Mary’s encounter with an angel who foretold the miraculous birth of the Christ-child. Mary was ‘expecting’; after her nine months of pregnancy, she would give birth to the Christ-child at Christmas. With the nights at their longest, another Advent image is that we wait in the darkness for the Light to come into the world the night of Christmas Eve.
But Advent is a difficult season. The secular world rushes past, on its mad dash to a ‘secular Christmas’. Jesus plays no part in the orgy of consumerism that begins with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and its exhortation to buy impossibly expensive gifts, often for people who do not need them. It is a different interpretation of the holiday (actually holy day) season from our anticipation of a simple unlit stable, and a young mother who lays “the little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.” Where can we find the time to wait in expectation in the midst of this hustle and bustle?
At St. George’s, we offer brief occasions to focus our thoughts away from ‘secular Christmas.’ Our regular Sunday gatherings examine the meaning of the Advent season with Advent Lessons and Carols on December 1st. On December 8th and 15th we will explore the kind of Messiah that we might be waiting for. Join us on the 15th also for the priest’s Christmas brunch, and afterwards for carol singing at the Halton Radial Railway on the Guelph Line. December 22nd is the occasion of our service of Christmas Lessons and Carols. Finally we will celebrate the birth of the Christ-child on December 24th – at our family service at 4:30 or at our more formal gathering at 7:30 pm.
Christmas Day (9:30 am) we offer a quiet and contemplative remembrance of Christ’s birth. The shepherds have finally gone home and Mary and Joseph have a chance to enjoy their new baby. After Christmas (for those of you who care about the lectionary readings!) we will be telling Matthew’s version of the early events in Jesus’ life and ministry in sequential order. I hope that this will allow us to understand the Gospel message more clearly.
Please join us at St. George’s this season as often as you are able. But especially as this new Christian year begins, please invite your friends and family to join you. Fill your hearts with wonder with the idea of Incarnation – that God came to us in human form – or, as the writer John put it, ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ That message of Incarnation (fleshiness) is not just a story from two thousand years ago, when a group of shepherds looked into a baby’s eyes, and saw the face of God shining back. It is a story for our time, and all time. “Peace on earth” sang the angel choir. May we look behind the Biblical narrative to look for its relevance to us, ordinary 21st century people. Otherwise, it is just a charming story from long ago.
Meanwhile, may you wait for Christmas, filled with the Advent themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, in the expectation that Christmas 2019 may be truly blessed for each of you and all those you love.
Your brother in Christ,