This Sunday, November 27th, 2022, is the First Sunday in Advent, or as it is often called, simply Advent Sunday: it is the beginning, not only of a new season in the Church year, but of the ecclesiastical and liturgical year itself. It is the Christian “New Years Day”!
Advent stems from the Latin word “adventus,” and means “arrival,” or “coming”: in Classical antiquity, it was the term used for a Roman Emperor’s triumphal return and entry back into the “Eternal City,” after a military victory, or some other epic accomplishment. The elements of a traditional “Adventus” are ones in which early Christians saw a clear foreshadowing of the story of Our Lord, and I suspect you will see the connection immediately as well. These elements include:
1) the announcement of the King’s coming,
2) preparation for his arrival (probably including a certain amount of cleaning and “sprucing up”), and waiting with anticipation as he draws nigh,
3) increasing joy as the King’s arrival grows imminent,
4) the King’s appearance (in Greek, “Parousia”),
5) the King’s retinue following in after him (think: saints and angels, but also ordinary faithful Christians) and, at last,
6) a celebration as the King dwells once more among his people.
As I say, the connection is pretty clear and obvious! Advent is a time of penitence and preparation, it is true; but to a far greater degree than Lent, it is also a time of joyful expectation, as we look forward both to the commemoration of Christ’s first coming, as the babe in the manger of Bethlehem, but also – and especially in the first few weeks of Advent – his Second Coming in power and great glory at the end of time.
My prayer for each and every one of us is that God gives us grace to observe a holy Advent this year, in which both elements – penitent preparation and joyful expectation – abound. May the Lord bless you and keep you, as we move through this holy season, toward the Feast of the Nativity!
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Fr. Tom Harbold
Propers for the First Sunday in Advent.
The Book of Common Prayer 1928.
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour 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, now and ever. Amen.
¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, with the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas-day.
The Epistle. Rom. xiii. 8.
OWE no man any thing, but to love one an other: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
The Gospel. St. Matt. xxi. 1.
WHEN they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And. a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strewed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem. all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Announcements for the Week of November 27th, 2022:
If you are a visitor:
Welcome! Thank you for being here. We are very pleased to have you with us, and hope that your worship at Christ Church Anglican is a blessing to you. Please sign the guest book on the table in the narthex, and provide appropriate contact information. Include your email address to be placed on our parish email list: you won’t be bombarded, but it’s a good way to keep in touch. And may God bless you!
Acolytes / Altar Servers and Lay Readers
We welcome and invite inquiries from men or boys wishing to serve as Acolytes, Altar Servers, and Lay Readers. Please see George Hillard if you are interested!
It is not too early to begin thinking about what you will be giving to the work of God through this parish, in the coming year! A few things to keep in mind, both theological and practical: first, the Lord loves a cheerful giver! This should not be be undertaken with a sense of dread and teeth-gritted obligation, but with cheerfulness and gratitude in our hearts, as a thank-offering in response to all the gifts God has already given us, beginning with life itself.
Second, please remember that the Biblical standard of giving is the tithe: a tenth-part of our “substance,” offered back to the Giver of all things. If our circumstances do not allow that at present (and I know from my own experience that some of us may be living very close to the bone, with every dollar precious), let us consider it as a goal to be worked toward. It is a sad truth that everything we want to do to advance God’s Kingdom, whether outreach to the community or expansion of our own facilities, requires the financial wherewithall to do it…
And third and finally, in practical terms, please pledge. It is not only a good reminder to ourselves, to have made that commitment (be it weekly, monthly, or annually), but it immeasurably helps the Vestry and Treasurer in putting together a budget to know with confidence how much to expect that we’ll have coming in, so that we can plan accordingly. There are pledge cards in the narthex, or just ask me, one of our other clergy, or a member of the Vestry. Many thanks, and may God bless you for your generosity toward His work!
Midweek Service: Wednesday morning at 10 o’clock
We offer a weekly service of Holy Communion at 10 o’clock on Wednesdays. This is also an opportunity for the anointing with oil and laying on of hands for healing (of body, mind, heart, or soul) for those who desire it.
Advent Study – or lack thereof…
I am sorry to say that there will not be a formal Advent Study this year. However, as a devotional practice, I would strongly recommend to you a close reading of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, in these weeks of Advent. This prophetic book is so replete with Messianic references that in the Middle Ages, and beyond, it was known affectionately as the “Fifth Gospel.”
And many of our most vivid and cherished images of our Lord and Saviour in His role as the promised Messiah – from “there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1) to “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:7), and more – are found there. As our Collect for the second Sunday in Advent will adjure us, “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest”!
Blessing of the Hounds – Moore County Hounds
I am pleased to report that the Blessing of the Hounds, at the 108th Opening Meet of the Moore County Hounds, held on Thanksgiving Day – at which I was invited to officiate – was successful, and appears to have been well-received. Many copies of the service leaflet and/or our Parish business cards were handed out, and many people expressed their thanks and appreciation. Many of them expressed their gratitude for hearing God’s word spoken in public. And I have already been requested to “Please put us on the calendar for next Thanksgiving”! It was a joy and a privilege to have this opportunity to increase the exposure our Parish in the local community, and, by God’s grace, help to advance His Kingdom.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Fr. Tom Harbold