An Advent Message from Fr. Jim

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Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

I send to all of you Greetings for the Season of Advent.

While we observe in the secular calendar the beginning of the new year on the first of January, for us Christians, the new year begins with the first Sunday of Advent, which occurs this year on the second of December. For Christians, the new year begins with preparation for the Birth of the Christ Child. Four Sundays later, we observe the Birth of the Christ Child on Christmas. It was in the twelfth century that it was decided that the Christian calendar was to begin with Advent. “Four weeks,” or “forty days and forth nights,” in the Jewish way of thinking, on which Christianity was based, meant “a long time.” “Forty” is not to be taken literally. That is why we undergo a long time before the Birth of Christ, just as we go through forty days before Easter, when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead, on Easter Sunday.

As we observe the beginning of the new Christian year, we renew ourselves. We begin anew. We welcome you anew to our parish family, as we celebrate on Sundays the Last Supper when he offered himself to the faithful. We also renew our parish family life with Community Supper. We continue to look for ways to resume our children’s education in Sunday School. We also reach out for our Christian sisters and brothers in Hudson and far beyond.

As last year, we will celebrate Christmas Eve at 5:00PM, followed by a Christmas Morning service at 10 AM. After the “twelve days of Christmas,” we welcome the Season of the Epiphany, when we remember to remember how the “Three Wise Men” journeyed from the “East,” most likely today’s Iran, following only the stars, to Bethlehem to worship the Birth of the Christ Child. By then, in our “secular calendar,” we will be in 2019.

Let us remember that from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day every year, some of us are so busy with family gatherings and parties with our friends. Others of us undergo the loneliest time of the year. This is the time when we hold each other, welcome each other, especially the homeless, the friendless and the lonely into our homes and churches.

We look forward to seeing you at St. Luke’s in many of our activities, especially in our Sunday morning services at 10 o’clock, followed by fellowship in the Ebens’s Room downstairs.

Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.

Fr. Jim+

Here is a poem that might move you, as it did me:offered by our parishioner, June Miller:

“In this Advent of expectation
draw us together in unity,
that our praise and worship
might echo in these walls
and also through our lives.
In this Advent of expectation
draw us together in mission,
that the hope within
might be the song we sing,
and the melody of our lives.
In this Advent of expectation
draw us together in service,
that the path we follow
might lead us from a stable
to a glimpse of eternity.”

Copyright © John Birch, 2016 · Prayers written by the author may be copied freely for worship.
If reproduced anywhere else please include acknowledgement to the author/website ·

St. Luke’s Words of Wisdom

Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

The balmy summer is now long over, and the crisp autumnal air is in and winter is not far away. Soon, the beginning of our church calendar, the Advent Season, is upon us. For those seasoned in life, every passing year may seem a repetition of the same. Upon closer reflFr Jimection, we realize every year is new, bringing new challenges. This year, we face divisions, here and abroad, rooted in historic enmities that are magnified by the leaders’ inability to tell the truth not only about their adversaries but also about themselves. Some describe the discord as “tribalism,” which many of us find quite telling. Gone are the dreams of global cooperation, of rich and privileged nations helping the struggling developing, smaller nations. The United Nations’ pledge to do all they/we can to avoid another scourge of war. Withdrawals from multi-national collaborations, coupled with retreat to “our country first,” have exposed this and other nations to much feared vulnerabilities. “Cold War” seems to be back with escalation of the possibility of nuclear confrontations. In today’s volatile world, nuclear arms seem to equalize large and powerful nations with smaller ones. Are these intractable problems that confront all of us? Or, are there ways to curtail the dangerous course? What are our responsibilities as Christians who seem to follow the way of God in Christ? What in our small community, our small parish church, do to speak for the best in our nature? Questions abound.

We might remember that the great prophets of the Hebrew Bible lived in times of deep crisis. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Amos, among others, lived in a time, not unlike ours today. Boldly they demanded that the powers that be on earth repent of their ways and urged them to heed and follow God. In their prophetic world view, God could not be manipulated by people in power; God firmly stood against them. John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth continued in the same prophetic tradition.

Some may wonder why, in our small town and in a small parish, we need to
bother with what is going on in the wider world, far beyond what matters to us daily. The Body of Christ has no October 2018

boundaries, political, linguistic, racial or cultural. The Body of Christ is one. If any part aches, the rest of the Body not only feels the pain but seeks to heal it. Tribalism, let alone division, has no place in the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is global, encompassing everyone, especially those crying out for help. God loves the whole world. To think that God serves only the Christians is to misunderstand the teaching and ministry of God in Christ. When we greet each other as “brothers and sisters of Christ,” our hands reach out far and wide. God’s love not only has no boundary; it breaks all boundaries.

Since the dawn of environmentalism in the second half of the 20th century, advocates and activists have often used the expression, “Think globally, Act locally.” We cannot simply clean up our own homes, towns to clean up the world. But, that is where it starts. Don’t we see rivers and ponds, where nobody lives, full of plastic bags and straws? In parts of Asia, I have seen plastic water bottles strewn all over the streets, choking up waterways. Who is cleaning them up? Whose responsibility is it? All too often we think locally and act only locally. “World peace” begins at home, at our church. “Think globally, Act locally” began with the environmentalists who warned us of pollution and climate change. Now is the time when we must apply it to other arenas of our vital concerns that can, must, change the wider world, not just for the good of our own communities, but, ultimately, for the good of all.

Yesterday, I was able to attend the revival service in Worcester, where our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, was the chief speaker. For nearly an hour, he spoke with exuberant passion. Were I to dare summarize his message, it would be: God is love; love is God.

As we face the beginning of the Advent Season, and as we face the ever-fractured world around us, time is ripe for us to seek and find the timelessness of God, whom we proclaim as our Creator and Redeemer.

Ever yours,
Fr. Jim +