Monday, December 10, 2012

The goal of Advent

A message from the rector (found in the December, 2012 newsletter)

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. This is a familiar Advent theme, and it isn’t clear whether this refers to our personal end (our death) or our collective end (the end of the world as we know it). But it doesn’t matter. The point is, wake up! Don’t waste the gift of life by proceeding through it as if in a slumber. Get up! Open your eyes, breathe deeply, and get going. There is much to do in the ‘already but not yet’ world in which we live!

There are people suffering right here among us and around the world. There are people hungry for food, for friendship, and for God! There is much to do.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus healed the sick, connected with the excluded, and loved even those who executed him. Our earthly ministries should do likewise. We are here on this earth as a people chosen by God, chosen to be partners in the plan of salvation, just as Mary and Joseph were two millennia ago. But doing that work takes preparation – intentional, prayerful, continuing preparation.

That is the purpose and the goal of the season of Advent. All around us the Christmas season is kicking to high gear - carols are already playing in stores and restaurants. Holiday decorations and lights are up all over town. The tree was lighted last week at uptown Shelby. And this season, more than most others, also strains on our time, our attention, and our energy. I would guess that there are some among us who are already bracing for the stress, the depression, and the fatigue this holiday season brings… not to mention the debt.

Advent gives us the opportunity to step out of the madness, to quiet the chaos of the season as the culture experiences it and make space in our souls and our lives for God, so that the amazing event we await - the Incarnation - has the opportunity to have its transforming effect on us.

Advent calls us to include at least some time for quiet reflection and prayer. And from my experience with prayer, it is impossible to dread and fear anything while in the presence and embrace of God.

Redeemer is providing an alternative experience: Advent services designed to allow us to enter the peace, touch the mystery, and be in the Presence of God. Join us the three Thursday evening of Advent at 6:00 for a Soup Supper, then stay for our Advent Services:
* Dec 6: Service of Healing and Light - a traditional service of meditative prayer, songs, and readings from Scripture. The service begins in darkness and welcomes the light of Christ gradually, intentionally, fully. This service includes healing prayer, including anointing with oil and laying on of hands. Officiant: The Rev. Deacon Pam Bright
* Dec 13: Evensong - a traditional service of Evening Prayer sung by the Redeemer choir. Let the hectic-ness of the holiday season fall away into the quiet of prayer, grounded in Scripture, as we all prepare for the coming of the Savior at Christmas. (There is no Eucharist at this service.) Officiant: RoseAnn Evans.
* Dec 20: Advent Service of Lessons & Carols - a traditional celebration of Advent hymn-singing and reading from Holy Scripture focused on the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah of God. Officiant: Michele Wiltfong.

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