Letter from the Vicar – 18 December 2016

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s. We have come to the final Sunday of Advent and our
expectation grows as we light the last candle on the wreath, leaving only the centre
Christ Candle still to be lit.

Last Sunday we saw the Wise Men begin their journey at the east end of the church.
Today they come a little closer on their way to Bethlehem as they follow the star.
We also can think of the journey that Joseph and Mary undertook to arrive in the
place where the star would eventually come to rest, and we see how the manger is
awaiting their arrival. As we hear these stories once again, their very familiarity can
blind us to the amazing providence of God, guiding all these journeys because the
characters were people of deep prayer and devotion.

When we recognise that, we come to know that God also wants to guide our steps, if
we will but imitate the humility of these people by praying and listening for God’s
prompting of us. Amidst the rush and bustle of Christmas preparations this can be
quite a struggle.

During the week I found myself accidentally in the car park of one of our major
malls. As I drove around trying to get out, it reminded me of the frantic nature of
this time of year for many people. The preparations we make to celebrate Christmas
with our families and friends will probably entail a visit to this kind of throng. If we
believe that God is in all things then we can expect to find God even on our visit to
the shopping mall. In fact we are to be God’s ambassadors there, and we might do
this by being particularly attentive and kind to the shop assistants and others we
meet, so that they may also experience the joy of Christmas.

Remember, ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some
have entertained angels.’ (Hebrews 13: 2)

One of the real gems of Anglican tradition is the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols
which we offer this evening at 7:00 pm. The service has its roots in England and
provides a sequence of readings complemented by carols which help us to
understand how the birth of Jesus fulfils the deep desire which God has planted in
the human heart. This service prepares us beautifully for the celebration of
Christmas next week.

Maranatha—Come Lord Jesus!

Father Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

-CWS Christmas Appeal envelopes are available today. Please return these in the collection at Christmas.
-Christmas Flower Donations to Jill Woodside today please.
-Last chance to buy tickets for the Christmas raffle as it is to be drawn today.
-Sales table with marmalade and lemon curd in the hall today.
-Crib & Carol Service: Monday 19th at 6:00 pm, followed by children’s party.
-Festive Farewell Concert: Courtney Hickmott. Monday 19th 7:30 pm in the hall.
-City Mission Carol Service: Wednesday 7:00 pm at the Cathedral. This will be followed by a farewell to the retiring City Missioner.
-The working bee will now be on Friday at 10:40 am.
-The Parish Office will be closed after Friday until 9 January.
-Book Swap: Sundays after Mass and weekdays in the lounge.
-Invitation from Barry & Lesta Smithson to a Mass of Thanksgiving for 50 yearsof marriage: 21 January, 10:00 am at S. Thomas’ Church, Runanga.
Celebrant: Fr Peter Williams, Preacher: Fr Andrew Starky. Followed by drinks and a pot-luck luncheon. No presents please.
-S. Michael’s School reopens next year on 30 January.
-The Christchurch City Mission: the need continues during the holidays for food and household goods. For Christmas they still need: supplies for the Mission Dinner (meat, vegetables, desserts, soft drinks) and presents (unwrapped) for all ages. Gifts may be placed in the Inasmuch Basket today or delivered to 276 Hereford Street.