Monday, November 27, 2023

Between Thanksgiving and Advent...

This can be a confusing period of time--as this book cover suggests.

As we end November and approach December the civil and church calendars coexist in a somewhat unusual manner in the U.S.  Often, Thanksgiving Day is the immediate herald of Advent, but November has five Thursdays this year (Thanksgiving currently is the fourth Thursday of November, not the last Thursday of the month), and this gives a longer-than-usual gap between the culmination of the fall and the start of the Church’s preparation for Christmas—time available for consideration and use in the spiritual life.

Under the current (1979 BCP) version of the Church Year, the last weeks of the annual cycle focus on themes of judgement, harvest, completion, and the consequences of time meeting eternity.  These traditional Advent themes are, in effect, stretched out into something like a preamble to that season, emphasizing the elements of our faith summed up in the creeds around the “Judgment of the quick and the dead.”  This includes a healthy dose of eschatology and its intensity--the "secret sauce" of all authentic Christianity.


This emphasis allows Advent itself to be focused largely on joy—both the joy of Christ’s first coming (Incarnation/Nativity) and the joy of his second coming at the end of the ages.  This is different from prior calendars which tended to look at Advent in more explicitly penitential ways.


Because so much of Western Christianity’s understanding of eschatology has been built on fear, terror, remorse, shame, and condemnation, the other side of the coin is rarely considered.  The form Advent now takes in our calendar is less about The Four Last Things of death, judgment, heaven, and hell, and more about living in such a way that we will hear with joy the words “Behold, the Bridegroom comes!” at the end of time.


The biblical figures we focus on in the coming season are: the prophet Isaiah, the Prophet of the Advent; Christ’s Forerunner, St. John the Baptist; and the God-bearer, St. Mary the Virgin.


Isaiah prepares us for God’s shocking action of bringing the Messiah to us; the Baptist heralds the Messiah’s arrival, and the Blessed Virgin consents to God’s election and bears the Christ-child so that God may share in our life and redeem it “from within,” so-to-speak.


Through all of these weeks, the two aspects of our redemption—the proving, testing fire of judgment and the comforting, healing embrace of love—are explored and shown to be but two sides of the same coin.  To dwell in the Kingdom of God means an entrance into the divine presence and our true selves, an entrance in which all sin is ultimately consumed and all distortion stripped away in the ravishing, glorious totality of God’s love.  This is at the heart of authentic eschatology and forms a major part of the preacher’s and teacher’s work in this part of the Church Year.


Most years, all of this happens in quick succession—The last Sunday after Pentecost, with its imagery of judgement and enthronement being followed by the harvest thankfulness of Thanksgiving Day and then almost immediately by Advent Sunday’s proclamation of “Sleeper’s, Awake!”


This rapidity is as it should be, really.  The scriptures testify that God’s judgement will be sudden, not a bureaucratic “process” involving lots of forms and delays, nor a test we “study up” for.  Yet, the insertion of an extra week from time-to-time (as with this year) does afford us the opportunity to consider a couple of thoughts: God’s mercy in allowing time to repent, and the difference between judgement and simple retribution.


This extra space of time between Thanksgiving/The Last Sunday after Pentecost and Advent Sunday is a reminder that God often grants us time to draw back and change direction.  This space for repentance is one of the many ways God shows mercy, and something to give thanks for, always.


The other point I would like to make about this week is that it shows how God’s judgement is a considered matter, a revealing of our journey, intentions, and purposes, rather than mere retribution or spite.  


The parables of judgement in the Gospel are not about a capricious deity just showing off power for power’s sake, but the working out of consequences of deeds done (or not done).  

We can go for long periods without thought to the kind of life we are building, but all the while, we are still building it.  That is our “life project,” and it is the offering we will make at the end of our earthly pilgrimage.  The space between these parables of judgement and Advent Sunday is a good time to think seriously about the nature of that offering, and how we may use this Advent season to renew and re-form that offering so it may be worthy of the eternity on the edge of which we stand this season—and every day—as members of Christ’s body.


Enjoy this week, and use it wisely!

Saturday, October 28, 2023

"That All Who Seek You Here May Find You..."

Almighty God, to whose glory we celebrate the dedication of this house of prayer: We give you thanks for the fellowship of those who have worshiped in this place, and we pray that all who seek you here may find you, and be filled with your joy and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

This Sunday St. Timothy’s will observe one of its two Parochial Feasts: the dedication of its church (the other is its “feast of title,” the commemoration of St. Timothy in January). This annual event recalls the dedication liturgies in this parish’s history: of the first church building (now our parish hall), of the second (and current) nave, and of the educational, office, and chapel addition in 1997.


This liturgy has several special characteristics. First of all, it is a feast with its own collect, lessons, prayers of the people, and hymns. It opens with a Festal Procession, with a collect at  a station where the icon of our  patron St. Timothy is displayed. The Gloria in excelsis, the great hymn of praise from the early Christian era reserved for major feasts, is sung as the altar is censed. Deceased benefactors and members of St. Timothy’s are recalled in our prayers. Finally, before the liturgy concludes, a solemn Te Deum is sung, giving God especial thanks for this house of prayer as a guaranteed place of meeting and as a center of mission. So much for the liturgical details.


What must be of greater concern for us is the meaning behind this feast and its special elements, for the liturgy is a direct participation in the mystery of God the Holy Trinity, and a showing forth of the Kingdom of God, dawning even now in its fullness by the action of the Holy Spirit. What, then, does this liturgy signify to us?


The collect for the feast puts two things front-and-center: communion and its fruits. The Feast of Dedication is a thanksgiving for communion in its many forms: fellowship with God, fellowship with other disciples, fellowship with those who have already entered eternal life. It is also a plea to God that this parish—holy ground, dedicated to God’s way, God’s presence, a kind of divine beachhead in our agonized and strife-torn world—may always be a place where people may find God and be filled with divine joy and peace.


Ours has become a “desacralized” world; that is a fancy word for the condition of having little or no holiness. In its place, we have tried to substitute the material, the commercial, the purely physical, or the ideological. All around us we see the grotesque results of this experiment: addictions, obsessions, environmental degradation, the commodification of human life, industrialized killing, and the reduction of mystery and awe to such slogans as “follow your bliss”, “it’s all good”, or the demand for conformity to a particular political party or opinion. The hunger for something more is being bought off—temporarily—by a less and less effective array of consumerist and ideological stop-gaps. 


But the Church has the one thing that will satisfy that hunger: communion with God, with the creation, and with each other. Here, in this place, the cheap and sleazy answers the world hands out are not offered. Here, the utter connectedness of all things to their God is revealed. Here joy and peace are not just words: they are the currency of our shared life. Each Eucharist is a joyful renewal of that fact, reaching out beyond the buildings of St. Timothy’s into the lives of its members throughout this city and its surroundings.


The Feast of Dedication is no self-congratulatory party wherein this parish looks admiringly at itself in a mirror. It is a thanksgiving for the grace of God leading to the foresight, sweat, and sacrifice of those who came before us to bring about this parish’s physical presence. But it is more than that: it is a rousing call to take seriously the preciousness of Holy Ground in a city where hope, justice, peace, relationships, and even human life have become just words. 


Here, at this place, the Kingdom of God is made known at each Eucharist, in each class or parish event. Here, those who seek God are able to find him: imperfectly, yes—but find God we may. For the Lord has blessed it, set it apart, making it a portal through which all may enter and be restored, refashioned into what we were created to be from the foundation of the world: the Royal Priesthood of Creation.


Let us give thanks for the dedication of this parish and live out its promise. Like all churches who retain zeal for the Kingdom of God, it is a beacon of hope in a world awash in turmoil, anxiety, and fear.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Lammastide: Earth, Altar, and Us All

The first day of August is traditionally called Lammas Day – a term coming from an earlier form of English that means “Loaf Mass” Day. This was the day when wheat flour from the recently-begun harvest was made into loaves (often of an intricate form), baked, and then brought to the Eucharist to be blessed. It was a sign of gratitude to God for the new wheat crop and an opportunity for communal celebration of God’s provision and all the coordinated labor that went into it. 

Until recently the direct connection between the earth, sustenance, human labor, community, and God was self-evident. If the crop failed, people went hungry, disease spread, and the possibility for all sorts of chaos became much greater. Village life – where most people spent their relatively short existence – left no room for global markets and Grubhub deliveries. It was a remarkably clear-eyed and relational world then: what was grown nearby through ceaseless toil and much uncertainty provided for survival. The various agricultural holy days in the English Church calendar (Plow Sunday, Rogationtide, Lammastide, and Harvest Home) brought human need to God’s throne through supplication, intercession, benediction, praise, and gratitude. The earth and the altar were directly connected through the plow, the worker’s hands, the barn, and the cottage hearth. 

In our current day, these direct relationships have been obscured. The abundance of food in our society would startle people from less than a century ago. The seemingly-ceaseless flows of deliveries to stores and homes have disconnected the various parts of the chain in many people’s mind. No longer are worship, community, labor, and the individual fully integrated: they exist in a disbursed universe of specialties. Worship is quite often more of a performance or a weekly ideological fill-up. Community now generally means mere likemindedness, online more often than in person. Labor has become hidden from view and treated as a kind of necessary evil rather than a sacred act. What prevails today is just the individual, the all-important consumer.  

Yet, when the pandemic upset all the supply-chains and production patterns, we had a momentary taste of the chaos and fear our forebearers knew well. Many people entered into full-on panic. Divisive attitudes, fantastic delusions, and apocalyptic hysteria proliferated. A few, however, knew that an essential part of the response to the situation had to be worship. Those of us formed by traditional Anglican/Episcopal patterns of worship knew about the centrality of those old practices of supplication, intercession, and thanksgiving. By engaging in them we drew closer to God and to each other rather than engaging only in panic. Earth, community, altar, and believer were pulled together once again.

The observance of Lammastide, or some version of it, would be good to re-institute in our churches (provision for it remains in the Church of England). It would be one more way for us to live out our message of hope, community, and communion. It would also be a very visible way to connect the earth, the altar, and us again. Rather than retreat further into the disconnected and anxious culture of darkness around us, we would be far wiser to gather together in the light of Christ, ask God’s blessing, and give thanks for the Creation and its many gifts – including each other. 

But this will take courage, faithfulness, and vision. 

St. Timothy's -- which has long observed the Rogation Days -- will observe Lammastide this Sunday as part of our renewed focus on the connection between Creation and Liturgy.  What will your community do to begin or continue this work?

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Mid-Lent Sunday

The Church at Little Gidding

Midwinter spring is its own season
 Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
 Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
 - from ‘Little Gidding’ (No. 4 of “Four Quartets”) by T.S. Eliot

This Sunday forms the transition in the Lenten Season from the focus on our own need for repentance to Christ’s work of bringing about our reconciliation with God. Thus, it turns our attention from our sin (which can become a sort of obsession if we are not careful) towards God’s love. Like Eliot’s ‘Midwinter spring,” we have come to a moment that is between two seemingly opposite things: Ash Wednesday and Easter Day… yet this moment is but part of a reality of which both Holy Days partake. 

 Mid-Lent Sunday (also known by an entire raft of other names: Laetare, Mothering Sunday, Refreshment Sunday, The Sunday of the Five Loaves, &c.) is a brief respite from our usual Lenten observance; it is also an open invitation to take the season seriously if we have previously not. As St. John Chrysostom will remind us at the Easter Vigil (in his famous sermon), it is not too late to begin our preparation! 

 On a deeper level, though, this Sunday moves us from a focus on our sinfulness to the freedom and forgiveness we receive in Christ. The Gospel reading for this Sunday makes the choice very clear: either we are like the man born blind, who received the gift of sight from God as a gift, or we are like the Pharisees whose love for God had become twisted into a bitterness that could ignore the miracle in their midst and instead condemn both the recipient and the giver. 

 Mere religion will side with the Pharisees. They were simply “following the rules.” True Christian discipleship will choose the riskier path of Jesus, though…because it brings freedom and the capacity to love. As has been said, humanity is always suspended between the law of this world and the love of God, and it must choose.

Let the rest of Holy Lent be a conscious examination of our preferences, so that when we arrive at Holy Week, we will choose love, knowing there is no other way to the peace we seek, the potential self our God has in store for us.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Lent: The Season of Spiritual Heart Surgery

The Collect for Ash Wednesday, which may be used throughout the season, asks God to give us “new and contrite hearts.” 

The renewal of our true and innermost being—symbolized by the heart in biblical language—can only happen by a kind of surgical re-shaping (contrition means “to wear down” or to “grind away”). This is one of the main purposes of Lent, and each year we are called to take seriously where God is calling us to open our lives to his providential, careful work of healing and softening hardened, sick hearts.

The passage below is from one of the earliest extant Christian documents, perhaps even older than some of the books of the New Testament in their final form. It is from a letter written by the Bishop of Rome to the Christians of Corinth when their internal dissention had risen like a thundercloud on the horizon of the Church’s mission. Their divisions were hurting the common life of the Body, and Clement sought to do the work of a true pastor: open the eyes of the flock to the truth of their situation, giving them the remedy. Like all Christians, they stood in need of repentance when they had lost their way.

The season of Lent is, to a certain degree, a renewal of our sense of eagerness for the Kingdom of God, something early Christians knew and felt with great naturalness. Such eagerness exposes everything adverse to God’s way of love, exposing it to view and inviting the Master Surgeon to remove the cancer of sin, wherever it grows. It is that heartfelt desire Lent seeks to rekindle in us, for this season and beyond.

If we want as individuals and as a community to experience something of the transforming grace and motivating energy of ancient and authentic Christianity, we must offer ourselves for the same surgical procedure without delay. For, as Scripture says, “now is the acceptable time,” and a new and healed heart awaits us…our very lives depend on it!
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            Let us fix our attention on the blood of Christ and recognize how precious it is to God his Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world.
            If we review the various ages of history, we will see that in every generation the Lord has offered the opportunity of repentance to any who were willing to turn to him. When Noah preached God’s message of repentance, all who listened to him were saved. Jonah told the Ninevites they were going to be destroyed, but when they repented, their prayers gained God’s forgiveness for their sins, and they were saved, even though they were not of God’s people.
            Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the ministers of God’s grace have spoken of repentance; indeed, the Master of the whole universe himself spoke of repentance with an oath: As I live, says the Lord, I do not wish the death of the sinner but his repentance. He added this evidence of his goodness: House of Israel, repent of your wickedness. Tell the sons of my people: If their sins should reach from earth to heaven, if they are brighter than scarlet and blacker than sackcloth, you need only turn to me with your whole heart and say, “Father”, and I will listen to you as a holy people.
            In other words, God wanted all his beloved ones to have the opportunity to repent and he confirmed this desire by his own almighty will. That is why we should obey his sovereign and glorious will and prayerfully entreat his mercy and kindness. We should be suppliant before him and turn to his compassion, rejecting empty works and quarrelling and jealousy which only lead to death.
            Brothers, we should be humble in mind, putting aside all arrogance, pride and foolish anger. Rather, we should act in accordance with the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit says: The wise man must not glory in his wisdom nor the strong man in his strength nor the rich man in his riches. Rather, let him who glories glory in the Lord by seeking him and doing what is right and just. Recall especially what the Lord Jesus said when he taught gentleness and forbearance. Be merciful, he said, so that you may have mercy shown to you. Forgive, so that you may be forgiven. As you treat others, so you will be treated. As you give, so you will receive. As you judge, so you will be judged. As you are kind to others, so you will be treated kindly. The measure of your giving will be the measure of your receiving.
            Let these commandments and precepts strengthen us to live in humble obedience to his sacred words. As Scripture asks: Whom shall I look upon with favor except the humble, peaceful man who trembles at my words?
            Sharing then in the heritage of so many vast and glorious achievements, let us hasten toward the goal of peace, set before us from the beginning. Let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on the Father and Creator of the whole universe, and hold fast to his splendid and transcendent gifts of peace and all his blessings.

(From The First Letter to the Corinthians, by Clement, Bishop of Rome, c. 100)

Friday, December 2, 2022

Advent, Repentance, and the Prayer Book’s Way of Preparation: It's More than a Wreath

Advent is a season of beauty, expectation, and penitence.

Advent is frequently a misunderstood season today, and thus often not fully experienced.  It is typically reduced to wreaths, candles, and a countdown to Christmas (or, even a sort of prolonged "pre-function" to Christmas) involving chocolate-filled calendars. It is far more than that. Advent is a complex season with multiple dimensions and a strong call to engage in repentance -- yes, repentance.

This ispenitential season – despite the occasional cavil from more recent liturgical experts – but not in the same way as Lent. Advent’s preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ is marked by a high degree of eschatological expectation, for Advent is really a preparation for two “comings” of Christ: his “coming amongst us in great humility” as the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent says and which we celebrate at Christmas, and “when he comes again in majesty to judge both the quick and the dead” at the Last Judgement. Both require serious and considered preparation. This is why St. John the Baptist and his urgent call to prepare for the coming of the Lord features so strongly in the readings, prayers, and hymns for these weeks.

Because true Christian belief and practice about the Last Judgement is founded upon hope and joy (rather than fear and anxiety), any sense of trepidation about the “Last Things” is a sign that we have spiritual work to do – and who among us is free from this ongoing work “now in the time of this mortal life” as the great Advent Collect puts it? Advent, with its focus on expectation and preparation, naturally serves as a time to consider what needs repentance and reconciliation in our life. 

This is all very well to say, but how do we respond?  The Prayer Book provides some clear direction.

First, there is the matter of examining our conscience.  By engaging in this practice, we are led to see what the Holy Spirit is prompting us to address at this juncture in life.  Tools for this work abound in the Book of Common Prayer:

·      The Ten Commandments (from the Penitential Order in the Holy Eucharist)

·      The Summary of the Law (from the same place)

·      The five baptismal promises found in the Baptismal Covenant (in the Baptismal liturgy)

·      The Litany of Penitence (from the Ash Wednesday liturgy)

·      The Great Litany

·      The Catechism

·      The Psalms & Collects


There are, of course, many other tools for examining our conscience (reading from the Sermon on the Mount is one, or one might use one of the traditional forms found in such non-BCP resources as The St. Augustine’s Prayer Book).

Once we have spent time in careful consideration about what is at issue, it then follows that we confess to God our sins and receive assurance of God’s pardon.  In the Anglican and catholic tradition of the faith, there are three such forms: Private Confession, General Confession, and Sacramental (auricular) Confession.

Private Confession is what we do on a daily basis in our own private prayers. It is often how we approach the Confession in Morning / Evening Prayer or the bedtime service of Compline when said alone (though, one must always remember, these services are always liturgical services and thus part of the whole Church's offering, even if said alone).  

This is our regular application of what Jesus teaches in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Confessing our sins to God should be a natural part of life – not as an act of shame or scrupulosity, but openness and candor with our God. It may be done at any time and it is indeed good to become able to confess quickly, just as the Lord's Prayer suggests. It will help up learn to forgive others quickly, as well.

General Confession takes place in community, in the context of Morning or Evening Prayer when gathered in church, or at the Holy Eucharist as we prepare to receive the Holy Mysteries of Christ.  It reminds us that sin is never a purely private matter (a “victimless crime”), but always impairs our relationships with both God and neighbor.  

This form of confession is closer to how the earliest Christians confessed their sins to one another, and thus connects us to the ancient Church’s pattern of acknowledging sin as a body.  It is also an important (essential) part of participating in public worship and particularly in receiving the Holy Sacrament.  One other point: General Confession is followed by the priest/bishop pronouncing an assurance of pardon, making clear that our confession and repentance is predicated on God’s mercy eternally offered in Christ's death upon the cross; the ordained minister is not a magical pipeline of that forgiveness: it is a declaration of that eternal al forgiveness over God’s penitent people assembled for worship.

Finally, there is Sacramental or Auricular Confession.  Here, a penitent confesses to God and the Church in a private manner – with only a priest present.  This form of confession is especially appropriate for sins of a serious nature, for old sins which have long continued to plague one’s conscience, for relapses into past patterns, at the end of life or when preparing for confirmation, marriage, ordination, or other major changes in our life, or when God’s forgiveness seems far away.  

Sacramental Confession is a part of the Church’s healing ministry and is directly connected to our baptism.  It is essentially spiritual medicine and may be received either at posted times in the church’s schedule, or by special arrangement with the priest.

Advent’s brevity is actually one of its best features: it makes clear that the time for setting our house in order is limited, and that God awaits our cooperation for our healing and renewal.  The joyful expectation which marks the season is also a summons to enter into this work with alacrity and zest: God desires our freedom and has come amongst us to secure it.  It is now time for us to respond by discernment and repentance so that we may enter more fully into the joy set before us – a joy begun at Christ’s nativity and culminating in the final “setting to rights” of all things in the love and truth of Christ’s return.

Let us all make this Advent season now begun a profitable season of spiritual renewal and restoration, “now in the time of this mortal life.”  By entering into a careful consideration of our conscience and appropriate repentance, followed by confession in the full assurance of God’s loving pardon, we may come to Christmas with a greater joy and a less burdened heart, ready to celebrate and live with our eyes firmly fixed on that day when, by God’s grace, “we may rise to the life immortal,” already begun in our life in Christ now.


Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the

works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now

in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ

came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when

he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the

quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through

him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

An Advent Rule of Life


Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the

works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now

in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ

came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when

he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the

quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through

him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Collect for the First Sunday of Advent


The Book of Common Prayer sets forth a holistic vision for Christian faith and practice, providing both theological teaching and guidance for living that teaching.  The Collects – prayers for the various Sundays and major Holy Days through the year – are one of the chief repositories of that guidance.  The role played by the Collect of the Day in any given worship service is of great significance, and careful study of these prayers is richly repaid.


The Collect for each Sunday is used at the daily services throughout the week following (with the exception of major Holy Days with their own Collect), and this affords us time to do that deeper consideration which marks a maturing, generous, and healing faith.


The Collect for the First Sunday of Advent, surely one of the greatest of the Prayer Book’s contributions to Christian prayer, is a fine example of this capacity to integrate teaching and practice.


It begins with a call to God for grace (meaning the experience of God’s presence and power) enabling us to do two very Advent-themed things, in language drawn directly from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: cast off works of darkness and be clothed with the armor of light.  It then positions this work in the context of our era – the “era of the Church” – between Christ’s first coming and his second.  Thus, the Collect illustrates the unique meaning of Advent as a season of preparation for the yearly celebration of Christ’s Nativity at Christmas and the ongoing preparation for a final reckoning – of ourselves as individuals and the human race and its history as a whole.


This prayer is not just about delivering teaching or information: that is not enough to our way of praying.  It connects faith with a response to that faith. 


The Christian journey is at every stage a deeper confrontation with all that is alien to God – alienation manifest in thoughts, words, and deeds born of darkness.  Christ’s teaching in the Gospel begins with the same message St. John the Baptist proclaimed: Repent! – from obvious sins as well as from less-obvious ones like cynicism and judging others.  A central aspect of Advent is waking up from slumber and getting ready for what is coming, taking stock of what we are.


Our journey with God is not only about repentance, however.  It is also about growing in grace and sacred knowledge, that “armor of light” about which St. Paul speaks.  Our life is more than negative (avoiding sin).  It is a positive embrace of what God has in store for us as his children. This can mean getting away from electronic devices (like the computer/phone on which you are reading this!) for an extended period of time each week or day so as to pray or read Scripture.  It can also mean learning to listen to others from a position of curiosity and interest.


What emerges from this prayer is a “rule of life” for the Advent season: calling upon God to reveal and cast away the works of darkness in our life and to cloth us with the protection of light in the place of that darkness. Note that this is not a do-it-yourself project (so dear to the modern American mind), but something that can only be done in concert with God’s grace and leading – a drawing together of human and divine will in harmony, inspired by Christ’s “great humility” we are preparing to celebrate at Christmas.


Advent is a short season, and that is part of its message. We do not have forever. We live in time and have been given our life to learn how to love.  This week’s Collect is a striking example of one way the Anglican/Episcopal way of faith engages our total self – mind, body, spirit – in this process of learning. This prayer’s urgency (“now in the time of this mortal life”) is a final Advent theme: let’s get to work now, for now is all we have before the God who is the “Eternal Now.”