Father Jim’s Reflection, December

by Father Jim Warnock

We’re heading into Advent which is a wonderful time. Advent is the first season of the church year. It begins with the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and it continues to the day before Christmas. It’s a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus, and our Scriptures will reflect that fact. It also anticipates Jesus’ return, a good thing for us to consider these days.

Our services will change a bit. We’ll be using Eucharistic Prayer B which is considered slightly more penitential than others. It’s appropriate as we’ll be readying ourselves for Jesus’ birth. Our hymns will have an advent theme, and we’ll have an Advent wreath in the sanctuary.

This year the Fourth Sunday of Advent is on the 24th. Normally we would green the church following that service, but the timing this year is awkward. We discussed this at the Bishop’s Committee and decided that the greening will take place after our Wednesday Bible study on the 20th. All are welcome to participate.

Also, given the timing of Christmas Eve, we’ll have our normal Sunday service at 9:30 on the 24th. Our Midnight Mass will begin at 5:00 that afternoon. If it’s 5:00 here, my research suggests that it’s midnight in Iceland and Mauritania, so we will be celebrating with people there. There will not be a service on Christmas day. Our Kenyan congregation plans to hold a Midnight Mass on Pacific time at Midnight, and we will be out of the building by then.

The Christmas season lasts for 12 days. We will celebrate the First Sunday After Christmas on December 31st. That will be our last Christmas Sunday as the Epiphany takes place on January 6th. Jesus came to bring peace on earth, to replace hatred with love, to bring together all humanity in a world without violence. We are reminded all too often that we continue to hope for his return that will bring this better world to reality. In the interim, prayers are appropriate and I thought this one from our Prayer Book is relevant:

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, p.815)