Letter from the Vicar 20 December 2015

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s on this fourth Sunday of Advent. Today we light the candle for love, the fourth candle on our wreath, as our waiting and praying in preparation for Christmas draw to an end. The focus comes closer to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus to Mary. We notice that the stable in our church is slowly filling up. Last week we had simply a manger and the animals. All was as it would ordinarily be. But it is to the ordinary that the extraordinary love of God breaks in.

Today we see the figures of Joseph and Mary praying with expectation near the empty manger. This might bring you to think about the empty mangers in your life that you wait and pray beside with longing. The reading from Hebrews expresses that longing as a desire to do the will of God. It is that obedience which marks out the special grace of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was chosen from among women tobear our blessed Saviour.

Tonight at 7:00 pm we welcome parishioners and visitors alike to the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols. The first of the readings comes from Genesis and expresses our human estrangement from God. While many would see this story as a parable, the deep human wound it points to is very real. The subsequent readings express great desire and hope for healing of this wound. These expectations are finally fulfilled in the birth of Jesus our Saviour. The implications of his coming are expressed in the great passage on the incarnation from John’s Gospel, which is the climax of the service. The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols provides us with a unique opportunity to consider the big picture of the story of salvation and to relate that to our own life and circumstances as we approach Christmas.

Lent 2016: Lent begins very early (on 10 February) and I want to alert you to our planned special programme. We have invited a series of speakers to help us prepare for Easter as we grow in understanding and appreciation of the tradition that we embrace here. The speakers include Fr Michael Blain, Sr Kathleen Rushton RMS, Fr Bosco Peters, Fr Peter Williams, and each will help us to reflect on how what we do here at S. Michael’s expresses the good news of the kingdom. The idea is that we will have a light lunch following Mass each Sunday of Lent and then a study from about noon for one hour. Further details will be available in the New Year.

 

Maranatha—Come, Lord Jesus!

Father Andrew Starky

 

Parish Notices

  • CWS Appeal envelopes are now available for your gift at Christmas. Please return these at any of the Christmas services.
  • Christmas Flowers: please give donations to Jill Woodside today. The flowers will be arranged on 24 December from 9:30 am.
  • Sales Table in the hall today. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
  • Last chance to buy tickets for the Christmas Raffle to be drawn today.
  • Children’s Crib and Carol Service: tomorrow at 6:00 pm.
  • Michael’s School is now on holiday until February.
  • The Vege Co-op will resume next year at the beginning of February.
  • Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in the lounge. Koha to parish.