Dear Friends

On Sunday, many of you also heard the sad news that Doreen Henson passed away early on Saturday morning. There will be a Service of Thanksgiving for her life on Tuesday, 19 Dec, at 10am at the church, followed by morning tea.

On Sunday I also discovered that Miriam is not alone! There are many people who think the service of Lessons and Carols is their favourite service of the year! And – after the beautiful singing last Sunday – there are many more who agree too! Thank you so much to James and Des and Roz and everyone in the choir for all your hard work!

I am wondering how people went with my Advent Pop Quiz from two weeks ago?

  1. Advent is a time of preparing for Christ’s coming from three different perspectives. Can you name all three?

Answer: The first coming of Christ is Christ coming into our world as a baby. The second is Christ’s return or ‘second coming’ to usher in, in full, the Kingdom of God. And the third ‘coming’ is one each of us can celebrate, individually; the coming of Christ into each of our lives.

I must confess I had not thought so much about Christmas in that light before – as a celebration of our own conversion – and of our own relationship with God.

  1. When does Advent begin in the Eastern Christian tradition (Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, etc.)?

Answer: Did you know the Eastern tradition observes 6 weeks of Advent – not just 4! Advent in this tradition begins on the Sunday after the Feast Day of St Martin of Tours (11 November).

Considering how early Christmas decorations start going up it might be a good idea to switch to a 6-week Advent period!

  1. How is Advent different from Lent? (And how was Advent once very much like Lent?)

Answer: Advent is different to Lent because nowadays it is not associated with fasting or ‘giving up’ something. However, from the 6th century, Advent was an optional fast that some began on the 11 November, others on 6 December, and others only a few days before Christmas. It was the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960s, that decided to clearly differentiate between Lent and Advent, and celebrate Advent purely as a season of hope for Christ’s coming.

It makes you realise that our Christian traditions are evolving traditions – traditions we are constantly reworking to bring meaning to our faith.

  1. Gaudete Sunday is the 3rd Sunday in Advent. Do you know its two other names (and how it got those names)?

Answer: I really loved discovering this bit of information! Gaudete (Rejoice!) is the first word of the Catholic Mass on the 3rd Sunday in Advent, but in the time when people did fast during Advent, the 3rd Sunday was also a day when fasting was relaxed, so it was also called ‘Refreshment Sunday’. To set it apart the liturgical colours for today are also changed to pink. Pink is a ‘brightening’ of purple and thus symbolises joy!

  1. Which of the following are ways people observe Advent? A. using an Advent calendar; B. Lighting an Advent wreath; C. Reading and praying an Advent daily devotional; D. Setting up a Christmas tree; E. Putting up Christmas decorations.

Answer: This is a trick question! The answer is – all of the above!

And more – because I want to challenge you to find a new way – your own way – to celebrate Advent! Remembering that Advent is also a celebration of the coming of Christ into each of our lives – how might you want to celebrate that in a way that is unique to you?

I am reminded of the last verse of an Iona Community hymn we often sing at Canberra Baptist.

Take my talents, take my skill,
take what’s yet to be;
let my life be yours and yet
be more truly me.

Grace and peace be with you as you celebrate Advent – the coming of Christ into your life!


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