Dear St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and Preschool,
I was recently reminded that we “live in a microwave society.” As the world beckons us to move faster – to order our Christmas gifts sooner, expect next day or same day delivery, decorate our homes while hordes of Halloween candy continue to tempt us – we, as Christians, are called to slow down; called to wait; called to prepare ourselves, our souls, for the coming of Christ. Born of a human, divinely incarnated, in order for that greatest divide between mortal and immortal to join in harmony through the birth of a baby in a manger.
The Church year begins with Advent. The season of Advent is a period of waiting, preparing, hoping for the miracle of our Savior – our Emmanuel. As the world speeds up around us, we are called to slow down and make the necessary preparations for Christ’s newborn presence in our lives. Here are some of the ways St. Michael’s will mark this year’s season of Advent.
In our Sunday services, after the sermon and after communion, I will ring a bell to mark a period of about one-minute of silent reflection. This time is solely for you and God in the presence of your brothers and sisters to contemplate the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table. I hope these moments of intentional silence during your week will draw the presence of Christ deeper into your life. I hope you will also notice a change in our Prayers of the People. They are specifically written for the Advent season.
In between our Sunday services from 9:30 – 10:15 A.M. on December 1st and 8th, I will lead an adult education class on the similarities and differences between the two birth narratives in the Gospels Matthew and Luke. Do you know why Luke included shepherds but Matthew included the Magi? Or why Matthew found it necessary to map out the 41 generations between Abraham and Jesus but Luke only focused on his Aunt, Uncle, and cousin? Those questions and many more will be discussed.
On Friday, December 13th at 6:30 P.M., we will have an Advent Taizé Service. Taizé worship is based around structured rhythms of contemplation and silence that provide a way to “turn off the buzz” of our daily lives and experience a new depth of prayer. Throughout the night, our labyrinth will be available for further contemplation and silence. December’s full moon is the night before, so this evening should be quite enchanting under the moonlight. Childcare (seasonal movies and pizza) will be available.
Throughout the season, we will be collecting unwrapped gifts for children at St. Jude’s Hospital. One of our former students, Ty, was diagnosed at age 2 with a rare form of cancer. Ten years later, he is still battling the cancer and will spend Christmas at St. Jude’s. His one wish is to brings toys to the children that can’t be home for the holidays. His family asks that there be no cloth or breakable items. Please leave the gifts unwrapped in the Church’s narthex or School’s foyer.
There will be many other traditional events happening throughout this season. They are listed below.
However you prepare for Christmas throughout the season of Advent, I hope you will set aside intentional time. Join us where you are able to grow deeper in your faith.
The Rev. Robert Beazley
P.S. As Frederic Austin’s 1909 song reminds us, there are 12 Days of Christmas. Please do not feel pressured to take down your decorations on December 26th. Enjoy them and the miracle of hope they represent in the world we live in.
December 1st – Advent I – Holy Eucharist, 8:00 A.M. & 10:30* A.M. Adult Education, 9:30 – 10:15 A.M.
December 1st – 14th, Toy Drive for St. Jude’s Children Hospital December 8th – Advent II – Holy Eucharist, 8:00 A.M. & 10:30* A.M. – Adult Education, 9:30 – 10:15 A.M.
December 13th – Advent Taizé Service & Labyrinth*, 6:30 P.M.
December 14th – Breakfast with Santa, 9:00 – 11:30 A.M.
December 15th – Advent III – Holy Eucharist, 8:00 A.M. Holy Eucharist & Children’s Nativity Pageant, 10:30* A.M.
December 22nd – Advent IV – Holy Eucharist, 8:00 A.M. & 10:30* A.M. Greening of the Church after the 10:30 A.M. Service
December 24th – Youth Prelude Music – 4:45 P.M. Christmas Eve Service – 5:00* P.M.