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VOLUME 2, NUMBER 3, DECEMBER 12, 2010
Longing and Rejoicing
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice; let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. (Philippians 4:4-6)
This is the traditional introit for the Third Sunday in Advent—and its first word in Latin (Gaudete) gives it its name. "Rejoice" is what we hear and sing on this day and the simplicity and austerity of Advent is lightened in various ways, the most visible being the lighting of a rose candle and the optional use of rose vestments rather than violet. "Rejoice" the introit says. We hear from John the Baptist again this Sunday. He was among the first to rejoice in the coming of the Lord when he leapt in the womb of Elizabeth as the Blessed Virgin Mary visited shortly after the angel Gabriel told her she bear a son. John was also the last of the prophets of Israel, those called to give voice to God's promises and to Israel's longing, which is really the longing of the whole world.
We say rejoice this Sunday because the long-awaited one is coming—the ancient longing of the world is being fulfilled. I'm not sure we can really understand a season like Advent (or Christmas, for that matter) without in some way being in touch with that longing. Longing—waiting—seem like strange, unpleasant things in our age. Our culture encourages us to take what we want when we want it any way we can get it. Longing—waiting—do not seem like potentially holy things, so much as the sad fate of those not strong enough or rich enough or smart enough to get what they want now. (Maybe this is why we rush to celebrate Christmas during Advent even though we have twelve days of Christmas to celebrate between December 25 and January 6.)
But what we wait for in this season and what we celebrate and give thanks for in Christmas isn't anything we can go out and get. It is a gift given freely to us. What we wait for in Advent is nothing less than the gift of God himself to us for the healing of the world. And if this is too abstract for you, let me just anticipate Christmas a bit and quote a few lines from a familiar song which makes very clear what it is we and the whole world long for and are already coming to know in Christ:
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
The world lay in sin and error, but God appears on earth and the weary world rejoices at the new morning—and the glorious new world—that is appearing. It is a world in which love and peace reign and chains are broken and oppression—even of the powers of sin and death—will cease.
It's a beautiful vision, but it's not just a dream. Though we live in many ways as if it's just a fairy tale and in that way try to suppress the longing for love and peace and true freedom from the oppression of sin and death (maybe because we create these things ourselves and so don't believe them possible), if we stop and get quiet and allow ourselves we recognize that we do, in fact, long for such a world. We long for it because it's for such a world that we were created and somewhere deep within us we haven't forgotten that. Advent is about daring to give voice to this longing, waiting with hopeful expectation for its fulfillment and even now looking for where this new world is already dawning. In this season let the Church rejoice in the hope and faith that Our Lord, and the new world he brings with him, draw near.
VISITORS... If you are visiting us for the first time (or the first time in a while), we are happy that the Holy Spirit led you here and honored by your presence. Please fill out a pew card and drop it in the collection basket or give it to an usher or member of the clergy as you leave the nave and please also sign our Visitor Register in the narthex (entryway) following the Mass. You are strongly invited to stay for fellowship and coffee downstairs following the 10am Mass.
NURSERY CARE... Nursery care is available during the 10am service. Our nursery care giver, Vickie Luppino, welcomes children to stay with her during any part of the Mass.
CHRISTMAS FLOWER MEMORIALS... Envelopes are in the narthex for Christmas flower memorials and thanksgivings. The deadline for receiving names is next Sunday, December 19th.
WASSAIL PARTY... Join us for a holiday Wassail Party on December 19th, 4 – 9pm at the home of John and Susan Schneider. A sign up sheet is in the narthex. Please bring finger food to share.
LADIES CHRISTMAS DINNER PARTY... Tomorrow, December 13 at 6:30 PM at the Iron Horse.
PLEDGE CARDS...If you have not yet made your pledge to Grace Church for 2011, please do so as soon as possible. Extra pledge cards are in the narthex. Thank you!
SUNDAY MORNING ADULT CHRISTIAN FORMATION... The 20th century monk, mystic, writer, poet, artist, and social critic Thomas Merton was added to the Episcopal Church's calendar this year (feast day, December 10). At the Adult Forum TODAY after the 10am Mass and to mark this addition to the Church's 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 conclude her two-part introduction to his life and work, including some insight into the profound effect he has had on her life.
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.
PLEASE REMEMBER FOOD FOR FRIENDS DURING ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS... St. Paul's Community Development Corporation Food Pantry welcomes high protein items, such as beans and canned meats, as well as tuna, cereal, peanut butter, rice, coffee, and pasta. Alternatively checks may be drawn in favor of St. Paul's CDC and marked Food Pantry. Please send checks directly to St. Paul's at 451 Van Houten Street, Paterson, NJ 07501. Thank you.
2011 CALENDARS... New calendars are available in the narthex. Please help yourself!
Christmas at Grace Church
December 24, 2010
Ministers of the Assembly
9 Harrington Avenue, Westwood, NJ 07675
Telephone: +1 (201) 664-0407 | Email: email@example.com
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