A message from Fr. Chris as we prepare to enter Advent ...
Dear Brothers and Sisters
We are approaching Advent and the beginning of another liturgical year. During Advent, we prepare to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ from three different perspectives; in his humble birth in a manger (incarnation), in our hearts daily and in glory at the end of time. Seen from all three perspectives, the season offers us the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.
The readings and liturgies of the season of Advent will direct us towards the birth and the second coming of our Lord, as anticipated by the patriarchs and prophets of old, which include John the Baptist, who spoke of how a Saviour would be born in the line of King David. Our services during Advent also pay close attention to Mary’s role as Christ-bearer and the joy she felt at being chosen to carry and birth the word of God become flesh.
During the Advent season, the decorations around St Cross will be simpler and purple become our traditional liturgical colour. Falling at the darkest time of the year, the natural symbols of darkness and light are powerfully at work throughout Advent and Christmas and they will be expressed most visibly in the lighting of the candles on the Advent Wreath at the beginning of each of our Advent Sunday acts of worship.
Practices associated with Advent include keeping an Advent calendar. This year we at St Cross intend to reverse this practice and turn the traditional Advent Calendar into an opportunity for small acts of kindness by filling a box in church with small, affordable gifts which we will donate to people in need.
We will also be observing the Moravian custom of Christingle. Traditionally Christingle services take place before or after Christmas so we have chosen the Third Sunday of Advent for this service. The children will lead parts of this service and we will use Christingles to celebrate the gift of Jesus to us as the light of the world.
During Advent St. Cross will also be presenting a traditional Anglican service of Nine Lessons and Carols. This is a service which takes nine of the best known and loved bible passages about the birth of Jesus and intersperses them with carols which pick up the theme of the readings. The music and voices will be provided for us by The Thursday Singers and it is a service which really should not be missed if possible.
I hope that many of you will sign up for the Advent Course this year which will be held at The Church of the Resurrection. The course, entitled, ‘Mary Had a Baby: An Advent Bible Study Based on African American Spirituals’will be held at 7.30pm – 9.00pm on Thursday nights. Each session will include Scripture, song lyrics, devotional and contextual information, and discussion questions to stimulate deepening faith and a sense of community. It will also give us the opportunity to get to know our friends at The Church of the Resurrection better.
On a lighter note, we are all invited to an evening of fun, dancing and festive nibbles at Emmanuel Church in Gorton on Friday December 15th, 7.30-9.30pm.
I look forward to looking forward with you and I wish you all a very blessed and contemplative Advent.