Through the Seasons immediately ahead of us, Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, we focus on many different journeys. There is Mary’s journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth. There are people journeying in great numbers into the desert to hear the preaching of John the Baptist. There is the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem—a journey that involves all those ‘descended from the house and family of David’. Shepherds journey to the stable after receiving an angelic message. Star-guided Magi from distant lands journey with special gifts. Then comes a journey of escape, as Mary and Joseph with the child Jesus flee to Egypt. Later, their return journey leads them to settle at Nazareth. The birth narratives in the Gospels also include the journey of the Holy Family to the Temple in Jerusalem, to make a thank-offering.
A journey is never simply a movement from one place to another. It can invariably be measured in other ways as well, and that is true of those on this list. They all involve both an outer and an inner journey. That is to say, the physical journey, when we see new places and things, is also matched by a journey of the heart, mind and spirit, when our eyes are opened to new understandings and realisations.
On Advent Sunday we are launched into a new year of the Church’s Calendar, and it is a good time to reflect on how our Christian journey—which began at our Baptism—is proceeding. The scallop shell on the font today—used for pouring water over those being baptised—is a visual reminder of this journeying. These particular shells are a centuries-old sign, indicating that a pilgrim journey has been undertaken. Baptism is marked by both outward and inward signs. The Church’s Catechism tells us that the outward and visible sign is water, while the inward and spiritual grace of Baptism is ‘the gift of union with Christ in his death and resurrection, birth into God’s family the Church, forgiveness of sins, and new life in the Holy Spirit’.
Baptism marks the beginning of a lifelong journey of adventure as we discover day by day what it means for God’s Spirit to interweave with the spirit that is uniquely our own, guiding, inspiring, energising, enriching and strengthening us. Like Mary and the shepherds and the Magi, we too will have experiences of new songs in our hearts, and of being overwhelmed with wonder and joy. But the choice to invite the Spirit of God to work within us always remains ours. God does not impose on us or coerce us. So, to what extent are we keeping ourselves open to the Spirit’s influence? A vital hallmark of our Christian journey is to look at our relationships with our fellow travellers, and to ask whether we have been good companions. We cannot honestly claim to be on a Spirit-filled journey if our way of travelling has a negative impact on those around us.
Yours in Christ,
Canon Craufurd Murray
- Diocesan Earthquake Appeal: we are invited to support those affected both in our prayers and by contributing non-perishable goods (drop off at Cathedral) and/or donating to the Diocesan account 06-0821-0009491-00, or https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/anglicanshelpearthquakeaffected2016/donate.
- Lunch at Regatta on Avon across the road at 12:15 pm today. Details Ann & Dudley Jinman.
- Meditation Group: Tuesday 5:15 pm in lounge. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215).
- Working Bee at Vicarage 236a Westminster St, Thursday at 11:00 am. Please bring basic tools. Details Michael Graveston.
- Carols in the Quad: Thursday 6:00 pm at Christ’s College. Donations to CWS.
- The Women’s Fellowship is collecting unwrapped Christmas presents for children (particularly for teenage boys) for distribution at the City Mission’s Christmas lunch. Please place your contributions in the basket in the parish lounge. Your gifts will help to make Christmas a little more special for someone.
- Christmas Sales Table organised by the Women’s Fellowship, next Sunday in the hall. Christmas gifts, baking (including small Christmas cakes), craft, decorations etc. Please bring plenty of cash! Details Pat Evans (358 0127).
- School Carol Service: 4 December 5:00 pm. Prizegiving: 8 December 6:00 pm.
- Farewell morning tea for Louise is now confirmed for 7 December at 11:00 am.
- Christmas with the Jubilate Singers: 10 December 7:30 pm. Details on poster.
- Sales Table: Sundays after Mass. Tickets for the Christmas raffle now available $2 each or 3 for $5. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
- Marmalade available on the sales table. Empty jars to the box in the lounge please.
- Book Swap: Sundays after Mass and weekdays in the lounge.
- Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Jill Woodside.
- Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of groceries and other household items.