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Notes from the Pastor

posted Nov 27, 2019, 8:52 AM by Mary Margaret Barnoff

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Advent is upon us! Advent is my favorite season of the church year, for a lot of reasons.  It’s the start of a new year, with fresh promise and new hopes; it’s full of anticipation of things to come; and to my mind, some of the most beautiful hymns in the Church year are Advent hymns. 

Part of why I love Advent is how many different layers to its celebration there are.  Advent is about preparing for Christmas, and for getting ready to celebrate Christ’s coming to us as one of us, but it’s also about preparing for Christ’s coming and recognizing His coming to us in a couple of other ways as well, as He comes to us in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and as we confess in the Apostles’ Creed, as “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” Much of the time, even when we focus on one or another aspect of Advent, all three are still there and still evident.  It’s an example of how the Church joins together past, present, and future; in Advent, we celebrate Christ having come, we receive Christ as He comes in and with and under the bread and wine, and we look forward to when He will come again. 

One of the other reasons that I love Advent is that it offers a bit of respite from the Christmas-shopping-and-decorating madness which has already started by mid-November when I’m writing this article.  Before I went back to college and then to seminary, I spent quite a few years working in various retail establishments.  The Christmas-shopping season wore on me greatly during my time as a cashier.  I’ve mellowed quite a bit since, but one of the things that I appreciate about gathering for worship during Advent is the opportunity to take time, slow down, breathe, and let it be Advent and not Christmas yet. 

Our midweek worship during Advent is going to lift up both of those themes this year.  The services aren’t going to be the typical Vespers service from the hymnal.  They’re going to be a bit slower-paced, and more contemplative.  They’ll use music drawn from the Taizé community; Taizé music takes the form of short, simple choruses which are repeated over and over again until they become meditative.  And each week’s service will focus on a different aspect of Christ’s coming – in history, in Mystery, and in majesty. Because those services are by design meditative and contemplative, there won’t be any preaching at them; instead, there will be time in the midst of the craziness of pre-Christmas to gather, to worship, to pray and sing, and to be in the presence of God.

I’m very much looking forward to Advent, and I hope that you’ll join us for worship on December 4, December 11, and December 18 as we gather to worship God and to pray together around the ways that Christ has come into our midst.

With gratitude,

Pastor Russ