The Lower Lights
40-70-80. No, not lottery numbers. These numbers kept being bantered about over the last three weeks for me and Candy – even appearing atop a cake. 40, 70, and 80. These past three weeks were one, long celebration, thanks to our five girls and friends, of our forty years of marriage. Seventy and eighty reference the new decade of our lives into which we have entered (I in a few days). Since it’s not polite to tell a woman’s age, you’ll have to sort out the “70” and “80” as you deem appropriate!
Just as Candy and I are entering a new era in our life journeys, the Church is entering a new year, which all of us know its beginning is the season of Advent, more particularly with The First Sunday in Advent, this year being December 2. It is important to consider the difference between the secular and Church calendars. The secular calendar declares that the advent of a New Year is January 1. This distinction is noteworthy because it reminds you and me that we live in two distinct realms: the realms of this world and the realm of God. They are related to each other, in that the realm of God exists to call the nations of this world to repentance, thus opening the door to for all humankind to live and serve each other in the grace of Christ, but they cannot be the same by the very nature of God's realm (for the time being, the Church), which is for the salvation of the world.
After the end of the Mass, after the Dismissal in one of the churches Candy and I attended while on vacation, the organist began playing our National Anthem with much gusto. The whole congregation turned and faced our national flag at the rear of the nave, joining in singing the anthem. That was inappropriate, however patriotic. When you and I enter through the doors of St. Peter’s Church we are entering another realm. We don’t ignore the secular world from which we step, but our minds are primarily set within the context of a different world, God’s realm here upon earth, which will be manifested at the end time as the realm or kingdom of God.
When we allow the line between the secular and the holy to blur, and worse, to be erased, we dilute the challenge of Our Lord’s words, seek first the realm of God (Matthew 6: 33a). The clarion call of Advent is that Jesus comes to call us to righteousness, to live for a time in God’s realm on earth, for the salvation of our souls and the welfare of the nations.
I bid you join with me through these four Sundays of Advent where we can hear once again the messages of John Baptist and Jesus, inviting us to strengthen our resolve (resolutions? this is a new Church year) to live faithfully in God’s realm for the healing of the nations.
OUR ADULT BIBLE STUDY RESUMES Thursday, December 6. Following is the schedule of Advent readings which we will study. December 6, Malachi 3: 1-4; Luke 1: 68-79; and Luke 3: 1-6; December 13, Zephaniah 3: 14-20; Isaiah 12: 2-6; and Luke 3: 7-18; December 20, Micah 5: 2-5a; and Luke 1: 39-55. We meet in the Parish House at 10:30 a.m. and conclude at noon with the recitation of the Angelus.
CHRISTMAS WEEK SCHEDULE is the same as last year. On Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, we will have our Family Eucharist at 5 p.m. One of the highlights of this Mass is the lighting of candles and our prayerful singing of the familiar Silent Night, Holy Night. On Christmas Day there will be a said Mass at 10 a.m., and the following Sunday, December 30, will be the Mass with our annual Festival of Lessons and Carols. Patti Gould, a former organist of St. Peter’s, will be our guest organist that Sunday.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THE ANNUAL MEETING of St. Peter’s Church: Sunday, January 20, following the Mass. The meeting, as usual, will be in the Parish House. A light lunch will be served. We will be electing persons for two positions this year, a Vicar’s (Senior) Warden, and a Mission Committee member. The Mission Committee, serving as the Nominating Committee, will propose the name of Mr. Whimpenny, who has agreed to serve another term of two years, and will likely have a nomination for the vacancy on the Mission Committee after its December 6 meeting. Since there are no nominations from the floor, the procedure for additional nominations will be given to the congregation by the end of December. Rules for making nominations may be obtained from the Clerk of the Mission Committee, Julie Grace.
HAVE YOU TAKEN A “LOOK SEE” (Hoosier dialect for the infinitive “to see”) at the replica of Sandro Botticelli’s Cestello Annunciation hanging in our Sacristy? If you haven’t you’re missing something! The late Marie Voranger Maniez, who replicated his work, was a communicant of St. Peter’s at one time. Marie was well known in art circles in France, her crowning achievements are the many murals that may be seen in castles throughout Europe. Some of her murals may be found in churches in France.
JUST A THOUGHT (continuing from last month) . . . you might want to consider increasing your pledge to your church, in thanksgiving for all your blessings, by 10% for 2019. Just a thought. It would be most helpful for your Mission Committee to plan on a little extra income for the coming year.
IMPORTANT DECEMBER DATES! BIRTHDAYS AND ANNIVERSARIES! The Rev’d Donald Turner (02); Joseph Griffin (10); Kay Giberson (18); Cynthia Clarke (26); and Allacen Rathbun (30). Are you missing? Notify Fr. Turner (609) 494-5048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A blessed Christmas to all!