Grace Notes" /> Grace Notes" />
VOLUME 2, NUMBER 1, NOVEMBER 28, 2010Advent
Happy new year!
For the Western Church, today (the First Sunday of Advent) marks the beginning of a new Church year (the Eastern Church year begins on September 1). We begin two new lectionaries today: Year A in the Sunday Eucharistic Lectionary (last year we heard mostly from the Gospel of Luke—this year we hear mostly from the Gospel of Matthew), and Year 1 in the Daily Office Lectionary (BCP 889 and 936 respectively). The whole season of Advent is about the new—that which is hidden, but just about to appear and to surprise. It's a season about hopeful expectation.
Adventus is the Latin translation of the Greek word parousia and it means, more or less, 'coming.' It is a season about just that—the coming of Jesus Christ into the world, both his first coming as an infant in Bethlehem and also his second coming in glory at the end of the age. This theme of Christ's coming is enacted in the liturgy in the heavy use of prophecy in the Old Testament lesson (and emphasized early in the season by the appearance of John the Baptist, the last of the prophets of the Old Covenant); by the use of the Advent Wreath—four candles which, by our observance both of their burning down and by the increasing number of candles lit each week, mark the movement of time in a visible way toward the fulfillment of the goal of Christ's coming; and (at the 10AM Mass) by the simplification in the liturgy (in our case, the traditional suppression of the Gloria in excelsis during this season, the stripping away of almost every word that isn't necessary and the temporary move to Rite II, the simpler of the liturgical rites), which creates more opportunities for silence (fewer spoken or sung words make room for the coming of the one Word).
That Christ is 'coming' suggests that, however much we think we know Christ (in Gospel, in Creed, in Tradition, in Sacrament, in theology, etc.) there is something new in this encounter. Yes, Christ has come, but he will come again. And though, when he does, he will be the same Christ who came two millennia ago and who comes to us in scripture, Sacrament and in our fellow members of his Body the Church, and though we will be able to recognize him as the same Christ we encounter in all of these places, he will still be new to us. He will still be new because Christ is new, fresh, aliveby nature. He is not defined or circumscribed by what is passing away. He does not fit into what is familiar and understood. He is always surprising. Always new.
So part of what this season must be about is breaking down our idols (this, if anything,) is the penitential aspect of this season)—even the idols we have named Christ—and clearing a path—a space in our lives and in our world, for the true Christ, the Christ who lives and so can't be nailed down, neither to the cross nor to our ideas about him— making room for the Christ who resists our idols. This Advent Season I invite you to join me in letting go of our idols and clearing a path—a space—in our lives and in the world—for the coming of Christ—the true Christ—who is always new.
PRAYER LIST...The prayer list has been revised and edited. If there is someone you would like to have added to the prayer list, please contact the church office. Thank you.
YOUTH GROUP... The joint Zion Lutheran and Grace Church Youth Group will meet at Zion, 12 Noon - 3 pm on December 5. All young people are welcome and encouraged to share fellowship with our Lutheran brothers and sisters!
CONFIRMATION... If there are any youth of at least 13 years (though, if the true nature of the Sacrament of Confirmation is understood, older is probably better) who would like explore their faith more deeply and prepare for a life of committed ministry in the Church, culminating in the Sacrament of Confirmation by prayer and the laying on of hands by our bishop, please let the Rector know. If there is enough interest, the Rector will call a meeting to discuss the process.
2011 CALENDARS...New calendars are available in the narthex. Please help yourself!
SUNDAY MORNING ADULT CHRISTIAN FORMATION... There is no adult forum this Sunday, but for the next two weeks the forum returns with a special offering. The 20th century monk, mystic, writer, poet, artist, and social critic Thomas Merton was added to the Episcopal Churchís calendar this year (feast day, December 10). The Adult Forum will resume next Sunday (December 5) after the 10am Mass and to mark this addition to the Churchís calendar, Debbi Geller, who fell in love with Thomas Merton nearly two years ago and who gives much of the credit for her conversion to Christianity to him, will offer an introduction to his life and work, including some insight into the profound effect he has had on her life.
CHRISTMAS AT SEA...A collection box is in the narthex for items for the Seamenís Church Instituteís Christmas at Sea program for mariners. Items needed are travel size toothpaste/brushes, playing cards, puzzle books, individually wrapped candies & gum, lotion and sunscreen, and lip balm.
PLEASE REMEMBER FOOD FOR FRIENDS DURING ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS... A gift to Food for Friends made any time during Advent and Christmas has special significance. Advent is a penitential season and almsgiving is a traditional penitential practice. A donation made during the twelve days of Christmas, by being a gift to Christís poor, may have the obvious added significance of being oneís Christmas gift to the Christ Child himself. At this time of financial crisis, we all know that the need is great. Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens are serving record numbers. St. Paulís Community Development Corporation Food Pantry especially welcomes high protein items, such as beans and canned meats. Otherwise, their wish list asks specifically for tuna, cereal, peanut butter, rice, coffee, and pasta. Alternatively checks may be drawn in favor of St. Paul's Community Development Corporation and marked Food Pantry. Please send checks directly to St. Paulís at 451 Van Houten Street, Paterson, NJ 07501.Thank you.
Christmas at Grace Church
December 24, 2010
Ministers of the Assembly