Advent and Christmas 2016
A new year begins, at least in the Church calendar, as we mark Advent Sunday and begin our preparations for the celebration of Emmanu-el: God with us, on November 27th.
That day, Advent Sunday will also be the day where all are encouraged to return Pledge Cards in order that we can embark upon the budgeting and planning we need for 2017. Pledge cards can be given in as a part of the offering, or handed to the Rector or Wardens before or after the service.
Alongside this we will be considering our part in the wider community, as we are reminded that ‘incarnation’, which is the foundation of our Advent observance, is concerned with making the presence of God real to all people – our very special guest preacher on that day is the Rev’d Dr Larry Scyner, who will be encouraging us to consider our part as a church in ‘Greater Victoria Acting Together’ (GVAT). We will have the opportunity after the service to share the concerns we feel are most pressing in our local and citywide communities.
This year, we will be beginning our special events for Advent with the choral extravaganza of our Advent Procession – with all the drama of liturgy, music and the story of faith based around those parts of the Christian Story called the ‘O Antiphons’ – to find out more, come and join in on Sunday, November 27th at 7:30 pm.
Daily throughout Advent we hope to have reflections based on the theme ‘Advent Hope’, which will be published on the website, stjohnthedivine.bc.ca, and at the end of each week printed copies will be made available on request. There is still room for contributions. For details please contact the Rector.
We will again be taking part in “Posada” – a Spanish tradition which means ‘the Lodgings’ or ‘The Inns’ asking where Mary and Joseph will find welcome – and there will be the opportunity from Sunday, November 27th until Christmas Eve for a number of folk to host our own Mary and Joseph figures – kindly knitted by our Chancel Guild members – as they make their way to our Christmas Eve Nativity service. If you would be willing to host the holy couple for a night or want to know more then please ask Ruth or myself.
On Sunday, December 4th, we will have a ‘quiet’ Evensong for Advent 7:30 pm – then on Saturday, December 10th, our Christmas Pageant moves outside! We begin in the Parking Lot at 3:00 pm for refreshments with the storytelling at 4:00 pm and ending with Carols and possibly a campfire! Then we mark the last stretch before Christmas with Lessons and Carols, December 18th, 7:30 pm, with our St. John’s Choristers, a traditional way of marking the season and, as always, a beautifully musical and thoughtful evening.
Christmas itself will offer opportunity for a variety of worship. On Christmas Eve we will be having a special All-Age celebration of the Nativity Story at 4:00 pm, our Posada will end with our Nativity Figures’ journey ending in the Church and there will be a mixture of carols and songs and a retelling of the Christmas story. This will not be a Eucharistic service, and we would like it to be an event to which we can invite those who may not normally come to Church to join us!
Our early Evening Christmas Eucharist will take place at 7:00 pm – an opportunity to share in a Eucharist for Christmas if the Midnight Mass is a little late! Then, of course, the splendour and tradition and joyful celebration of Christmas is marked with our First Communion of Christmas (a.k.a. Midnight Mass) at 11:00 pm. Then on Christmas Morning at 10:00 am an informal Parish Eucharist will be the opportunity to bring all the family to continue the celebrations whilst the turkey, or tofurkey, or whatever, is gently basting at home, and an opportunity to share your delight in those new socks, ties and other gifts you may have received with all of us!
All of these events are alongside our usual pattern of Sunday and weekday worship. Join us as you can!
We’ve spoken over these past couple of years about our Vision as a Parish – the excellent work of our Quo Vadis: Discerning Our Paths Together process gave us a foundation and we have been considering many of the implications of that report over the past 18 months. Now we need to consider ways in which we might express our vision clearly, and work together towards a shared future – using both the Quo Vadis report and the wider Diocesan Vision as our basis.
What can we do?
We continue to grow and to explore new ideas as well as celebrating our rootedness in musical and liturgical tradition, our calling to Social Justice and Action, our learning and education. If you would like to know more about the life of St. John’s or find out how to be involved in the running and resourcing of our community, please talk to the Rector or any of our Wardens or Parish Council members. We would love to hear from you – we continue to need more people to take a part in the various services and ministries of the church. As I said this time last year: a healthy Church is a church that is engaged, where we pay attention to our spiritual lives, and are contributing to the well-being of our church fellowship and the community and the world around us.
Enjoy Advent and a Happy Christmas to All
May this Advent and Christmas season be a life-giving time of faith as we share together the celebration of a God who is both great and intimate – who is Emmanu-el, God with us.
Merry Christmas, and a very Happy New Year!
With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel,