We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Advent Thoughts

Advent is a season of Watching and Waiting. It is a season of leaning into hope

Lord Jesus: Come into our world and heal its wounds Come into your church and raise it up Come into our homes and make them holy Come into our work and make it fruitful Come into our minds and give us clarity Come into our lives and make them beautiful O Come, O Come Emmanuel

God of the past, the present and the future, grant me patience when I must wait, courage when it’s time to take action, and the wisdom to know when to wait and when to act. Amen.

Advent 2

Explore Advent, Part 2

“Advent is a time to look for “desert places”: the place of solitude, the place of true silence in which we can become fully awake to our sin and God’s forgiving grace which alone can heal it.”-Br. Robert L’Esperance

This week we focus on John the Baptist through scripture, art and commentary. Let’s move to  Advent 2.

John the Baptist      

John the Baptist in art

 

John the Baptist Presentation

 
St. Nicholas      

St Nicholas Day is December 6. 

 

Here is a presentation that provides the background of this saint who has had a colorful and varied history over 1800 years.

 

A collection around the following 6 categories:


 READ!

1  What Does This Season Mean? Though Advent appears at the end of the secular calendar year, it is the beginning of the Christian year. The deep darkness of the natural world around us is an echo of the nurturing darkness of the dawning of Creation. It is in this holy space we begin re-telling our Sacred Stories. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.” Advent prepares us for, and leads us to, Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The four Sundays in Advent invite us on a journey. As the days grow shorter each week, we are invited to draw closer and closer to the light of Christ. We are invited to open our hearts a little wider each week to God With Us.

2 Three Teaching Points of Advent – Sarah Bentley Allred  https://bit.ly/2HMHfA2

3 The way we begin Advent is different.  Each year, the First Sunday of Advent starts the church’s liturgical calendar, and our countdown to Christmas, with a set of haunting, apocalyptic readings https://buildfaith.org/apocalyptic-advent-in-the-season-of-merry-and-bright/

4  Advent Waiting Article explores three qualities of Advent waiting – expectant, requires us to make space, and is hopeful.

5  Waiting and Unknowing by Fr. Richard Rohr. Once Thanksgiving is over, we in the United States are rushed headlong into the Christmas season. Yet Advent was once (and still can be) a time of waiting, a time of hoping without knowing, a time of emptying so that we can be filled by the divine Presence. 

6  Advent as an introvert Season Advent is expectant and full of hope.  “There’s also a solemn quality to the waiting — not dour or dreary — something grounded and okay with a close stillness, a quality that honors the waiting itself as sacred.” https://onbeing.org/blog/the-shoulder-season-of-advent/

7 Advent mediations from Living Compass. Read it here

The key word is “simplicity”. “We are talking about a practice of simplicity on a much deeper level. This is the kind of simplicity that people talk about when they describe being in the midst of a crisis, and then later report that the crisis has caused them to rethink their priorities, to focus on what is truly most essential in their lives.”

“So let us embrace whole-heartedly the season of Advent, along with these reflections, as the support we need to practice simplicity in a way that will help prepare us for the true meaning of Christmas.”

“The Living Compass Model for Well-Being offers us guidance in four dimensions of our being: heart, soul, strength, and mind. Our call is to live an undivided life, where heart, soul, strength, and mind are integrated into both our being and our doing.” Quotes begin on Page 44


 WATCH

1 Nativity: The Art and Spirit of the Creche. After the cross, the Nativity scene is Christianity’s most recognized symbol. Its history, art and spirituality have been embraced by cultures around the world for nearly two thousand years. This video unites theologians and collectors with an astonishing and beautiful array of nativity scenes collected from across the globe. https://www.youtube.com/embed/M29ShR-V9Pk

2 The Story of Silent Night – Classic Collection In the quiet of an Austrian winter, a young priest received heavenly inspiration to commemorate the most significant event in history by writing the world’s most beloved Christmas carol, “Silent Night.”  https://youtu.be/nKn9wLLzha8


  LEARN!

1 Luke’s canticles – Combines four stories from Luke with insights from artists, prayers, and hymns from around the world. Based on Songs in Waiting by Paul Chandler, now the Bishop of Wyoming https://www.churchsp.org/course/lukescanticles/

2 Matthew’s Infancy Stories.  The other author of the infancy stories, much different than Luke above https://www.churchsp.org/course/matthewsinfancystories/”

3 Christmas Carols – They surround us at Christmas. How much do you know about them?https://www.churchsp.org/course/12daysofcarols/

4 Handel’s Messiah, Prophesy and Birth of the Messiah.  The premiere Christmas work with the music and text https://www.churchsp.org/course/handels-messiah-part-1-prophecy-and-birth-of-the-messiah/

5. Dickens A Christmas Carol and the Bible. The premiere Christmas novel, here with the influence of the Bible and much of Dickens time https://www.churchsp.org/course/dickens/


 LISTEN!

1 O Emmanuel A fresh exploration of the O Antiphons including traditional Advent and Christmas music. The album combines a jazz trio with children’s choir and adult voices in just the right mix of expectation and joy. https://music.apple.com/us/album/o-emmanuel/1151565367

2 Advent Lessons and Carols – Washington National Cathedral The classic way to begin Advent  – Scripture and music with a service for the season. Previous service https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwR1FJ3-dts&t=3s , Nov. 27, 2022 service, 4pm https://cathedral.org/event/advent-lessons-and-carols-4/

3. Still Forming Advent Meditations by Christianne Squires is a collection of audio meditations recorded by Christianne Squires for the Still Forming community, based on Jan Richardson’s book of blessings, Circle of Grace https://www.stillforming.com/still-forming-advent-meditations-2015

4 Spotify Play list  Advent with Sacred Ordinary Days on Spotify.  Listen and prepare for our Savior, with anticipation, longing and hope


 PRAY AND REFLECT!

1 Advent meditations. In this workshop, Rev. Hillary Raining, D.Min. guides you through a meditation with prayer, scripture, and reflection using visio Divina, or “divine seeing,” with candlelight.  http://lifelonglearningvts.teachable.com/p/advent-meditation-workshop/?src=email

2 Antiphons for Advent in English and Spanish for 2022 A devotional resource in English and Spanish created from antiphons that families and communities can use daily in Advent. The short liturgy includes a prayer for lighting candles of an Advent wreath.

An antiphon is the brief snippet of a psalm recited or chanted as a refrain at the beginning and/or end of a psalm or canticle. Antiphons were in use by the 5th century and are still in use during the services of daily prayer. The practice comes from the Jewish tradition of the congregation reciting, chanting, or singing together, the word referring to call-and-response type of singing. https://buildfaith.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Advent-Antiphons.ENG_.2022.pdf

3   Journey on the Way of love.  Designed for Christian Formation (“Sunday School”). There are 4 sessions for the 4 weeks of Advent  The Way of Love is based on a rule of life. The best known rule of life developed in Christian monastic communities is  that of St Benedict, dating from the 6th century. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/journeying-way-love/


 MAKE!

1 Advent Crafting Traditions

2 Christmas cooking – Christmas cookies. Are these the top 10 Christmas cookies? https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/top-10-christmas-cookies

3 Families celebrate  Advent and Christmas Families Celebrate Advent & Christmas is a colorful deck of cards that is full of rituals, prayers and reflections. Endlessly flexible for busy schedules, you can create a new after-meal ritual, use them as decorations, or carry them on the go. https://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/product/9781506483498/Families-Celebrate-Advent-and-Christmas-2022-23 Free promo pack at bottom!

4 Create your own advent calendar 20 advent calendars to make. https://www.parents.com/holiday/christmas/crafts/best-advent-calendars/.

5 Advent wreaths on a Budget In congregations that have tight budgets, making Advent wreaths with families may be out of reach. While making wreaths is a wonderful parish life event, buying the foam inserts, ring trays, five candles and four stakes can add up to a hefty sum.  Here is an alternative solution https://buildfaith.org/99-cent-advent-wreath/

Here is another wreath article from Episcopal Relief that go up to $50 in cost.

Getting ready for Advent – A Time to Prepare for Preparation

We are ending the liturgical year on Sunday and approaching a new year on 1st Advent. Naturally we are looking ahead and seeing if we are ready. The anamoly is that Advent starts that year which is itself a time of preparation. So this Sunday we are preparing to prepare!

The key in all of this is to begin Advent with a different or changed mindset and a resolve for doing. Here are a few steps from BeliefNet and from our Advent study “Singing Mary’s Song” 

1. Have a  proper mindset – Be ready to stop in your busy tracks and embrace the season of Advent and, most importantly, its purpose. The Advent message is “deliverance from oppression and bondage, to those who have much and those who have nothing..” The message of Advent is that, whatever our circumstance in life, Jesus Christ was bornto be with us wherever we are. We have to be ready mentally to hear it. 

2. Prepare a room at the Inn. Your heart is where Christ wishes to dwell and Advent is the perfect time to make room in it for His presence. If your heart is filled with unforgiveness, it has no room for Christ.

“We need to uncover that place this Advent where we can be silent, reflective, and prayerful. During this time of waiting, our eyes, ears, and minds can adjust to the radiant presence of God’s love for us in Jesus Chris.t”

3. Clean out the Cobwebs. You ask God to reveal any unforgiveness that you are holding, it is important to clean out the vestiges of cobwebs that may still be lurking in the dark corners of your heart. The Advent message may be blocked or obscured by these.

The first readings of Advent are about repentence

This prophecy points to John the Baptist, who says to the crowds: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance.” (Luke 3:7-8) Then John tells the people what the Messiah is coming to do: “His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

4. Expect the unexpected or the obscured

“For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37)

“The unfolding drama of Jesus’ life brims with impossibilities—a virgin con¬ceives, and God enters human history; a woman well beyond childbearing years delivers a healthy child; a man returns to life from a tomb; the Holy Spirit empowers a small, frightened group of men and women huddled in an upper room in Jerusalem to develop into a worldwide movement that for twenty-one centuries has “been turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).”

5. Hang new curtains /get out the China

How are we to prepare for the coming of the Messiah? This is precisely the question the people ask John in the Gospel of Luke: “What should we do?”

Look closely at John’s answer: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” (Luke 3:11) Then the businessmen and bankers of John’s day come forward, and they, too, ask, “What should we do?” John answers, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” (Luke 3:12-13) The military powers come forward and they, too, ask, “And we, what are we to do?” John replies, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats and false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” (Luke 3:14)

Matthew’s Infancy Stories for Advent

Matthew’s Infancy Stories, Nov. 20, 27, Dec. 4, 11 – online

Adoration of the Magi (1481) – Leonardo da Vinci

Last year at Advent there was Luke’s account of the birth of Christ. This year the lectionary switches to Matthew’s Gospel so we will consider his version.

Matthew’s Christmas story is much shorter than Luke. It is different – no angels, shepherds, instead a star and visitors from the East. Jesus is born in a house, not a stable. Where Mary is the focus in Luke, it is Joseph who dominates Matthew’s account. Luke is more about joy. In particular Matthew brings up the theme of conflict with Herod trying to destroy Jesus and the Holy family’s trek to Egypt and back.

Both stories of Jesus’ birth are about fulfillment and both use light effectively in their works.

We will look at Matthew Chapter 1 and 2 over 4 weeks  two weeks for each chapter online published for each Sunday

Nov 20, Nov. 27- Matthew, Chapter 1

Dec. 4, Dec. 11 – Matthew, Chapter 2

There are two major purposes:

->What did Matthew’s story mean to 1st century Christians? Much of Matthew’s account is a fulfilment of Old Testament scripture. Matthew took liberally from these sources.

-> How is Jesus represented as the “New Moses” who relives the history of Israel? ->How do the Magi represent the role of the Gentiles? ->Why is it important that Jesus returns to Nazareth?

->What does it mean to us today? One writer has simply said “the purpose of Advent and Christmas is to bring the past into the present”  

Matthew’s Gospel for Advent 4 – Christmas is disruptive

From Trinity Episcopal, NY – Summerlee Staten

“The Dream of St. Joseph” – Anton Raphael Mengs 1773/1774

Matthew 1:18-25

“Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.


In Sunday’s Gospel, Matthew considers an annunciation. Unlike the other Gospels, which focus on the announcement of Jesus’s impending birth to Mary, Matthew wonders how the news must have landed for Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father.

Joseph probably had traditional aspirations for his married life. He must have been looking forward to a new chapter with Mary — the children they would raise together and the life they would build in Nazareth. But when he is told that Mary is expecting, Joseph does not get what he is expecting. His carefully laid plans are disrupted by a God who has bigger ideas. His life, like Mary’s, will never be the same — and now he will have to rely on a deeper trust in God.

In his refusal to dismiss Mary, Joseph exhibits stalwart compassion. Because he is a “righteous man,” he is guided by kindness and is willing to relinquish his expectations, and maybe even his dreams of a particular kind of married life, to a deeper vision.

It is Joseph, Matthew says, who “named” Jesus, a name that means salvation. And yet, he surely could not have known the full implications of Jesus’s arrival — not in his own life, nor for the life of the world.

The annunciation to Joseph reminds us that Christmas is disruptive. Jesus’s arrival in the world and in our lives destabilizes our plans for a perfectly planned life and asks us to accept the interruption of God into time — into the messiness of human life.

Advent IV – Love

Love is a crucial part of the Advent story. Because of Joseph’s love for Mary, he didn’t stone her when he found out she was pregnant with what he thought was a child out of wedlock with another man (Matthew 1:18-19). Mary has a natural motherly love for Jesus, and ultimately, we see God’s love for everyone by sending his son for us (John 3:16).

Jesus focused on preaching love throughout his ministry. Two of his greatest commands involve love: Love God, love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).

Love is the greatest of all the virtues on the Advent wreath and encompasses Jesus’ entire purpose for being on earth (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Arts and Faith, Advent 2, Year A —

Absolon Stumme’s 1499 altarpiece presents a mystical depiction of one of Advent’s key symbols—the tree of Jesse. Jesse’s tree is a royal symbol: a lineage flourishing from Jesse through David down the centuries to the birth of Christ, our King of Kings. The tree branches out to show others in this lineage, names of ancestors that Matthew and Luke preserve for us in the Gospels. We see the evangelist on the left, holding a scroll, pointing to this lineage in Scripture, as this vivid depiction of it surrounds him. The tree is fantastical—a golden flower that buds forth with the ancestors of Christ. On top of the tree, the Christ-child reigns in golden light.

Crowning this royal lineage, the Christ-child is a strange symbol of sovereignty. He is small, naked, held by his mother—an image of utter dependence. Yet, the words of Isaiah echo here: “Not by appearance shall he judge,” as his reign brings about justice and peace. With the reign of this strange, small king, our perceptions are tested as well: what is true power, what is true glory, what is true success? As the wolf pairs with the lamb, the leopard with the goat, and the calf with the young lion, we get hints from Isaiah for answers to these questions.

On the bottom of the tree, Jesse sleeps—an allegory that brings to mind the sleeping Adam, while God fashioned Eve from his side. From the sleeping Jesse, God brings forth a new lineage—the royal lineage that proclaims the sovereignty of God. The tree that sprouts out from him is like a dream, a vision of hope for justice, peace, and faithfulness to reign over the suffering, turmoil, and despair of our world. In the fullness of time, Jesse’s dream becomes a reality, his hope made present in Jesus Christ, his descendant and Savior. What hopes do you harbor as we await Christ’s coming this Advent?

Advent 1, 2022

Advent

Advent in 2 minutes Check out this Youtube video

Advent in 1 minute– A 2015 video from St. Mary’s Cypress

Explore Advent, Part 1– Over the next 4 Sundays there will be a presentation each week focusing on that week’s scriptures, art and commentary and how they demonstrate the themes of advent. Let’s get started with Advent 1.

Advent is the time when we change to a different year in the Lectionary. This year we move from Year C to A and from a concentration on the Gospel of Luke to Matthew.  There are several articles which are a general introduction to Matthew 1. Shortest from christianity.about.com 2 Longer from the Catholic Bishops

Interested in the Church calendar ? Matthew’s interest about time in First Advent lends itself to understand how we measure time.

There are several articles/presentations about the infancy narratives 1. Brief summary between Matthew and Luke  2. Longer comparison

A collection around the following 6 categories:


 READ!

1  What Does This Season Mean? Though Advent appears at the end of the secular calendar year, it is the beginning of the Christian year. The deep darkness of the natural world around us is an echo of the nurturing darkness of the dawning of Creation. It is in this holy space we begin re-telling our Sacred Stories. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival.” Advent prepares us for, and leads us to, Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The four Sundays in Advent invite us on a journey. As the days grow shorter each week, we are invited to draw closer and closer to the light of Christ. We are invited to open our hearts a little wider each week to God With Us.

2 Three Teaching Points of Advent – Sarah Bentley Allred  https://bit.ly/2HMHfA2

3 The way we begin Advent is different.  Each year, the First Sunday of Advent starts the church’s liturgical calendar, and our countdown to Christmas, with a set of haunting, apocalyptic readings https://buildfaith.org/apocalyptic-advent-in-the-season-of-merry-and-bright/

4  Advent Waiting Article explores three qualities of Advent waiting – expectant, requires us to make space, and is hopeful.

5  Waiting and Unknowing by Fr. Richard Rohr. Once Thanksgiving is over, we in the United States are rushed headlong into the Christmas season. Yet Advent was once (and still can be) a time of waiting, a time of hoping without knowing, a time of emptying so that we can be filled by the divine Presence. 

6  Advent as an introvert Season Advent is expectant and full of hope.  “There’s also a solemn quality to the waiting — not dour or dreary — something grounded and okay with a close stillness, a quality that honors the waiting itself as sacred.” https://onbeing.org/blog/the-shoulder-season-of-advent/

7 Advent mediations from Living Compass. Read it here

The key word is “simplicity”. “We are talking about a practice of simplicity on a much deeper level. This is the kind of simplicity that people talk about when they describe being in the midst of a crisis, and then later report that the crisis has caused them to rethink their priorities, to focus on what is truly most essential in their lives.”

“So let us embrace whole-heartedly the season of Advent, along with these reflections, as the support we need to practice simplicity in a way that will help prepare us for the true meaning of Christmas.”

“The Living Compass Model for Well-Being offers us guidance in four dimensions of our being: heart, soul, strength, and mind. Our call is to live an undivided life, where heart, soul, strength, and mind are integrated into both our being and our doing.” Quotes begin on Page 44


 WATCH

1 Nativity: The Art and Spirit of the Creche. After the cross, the Nativity scene is Christianity’s most recognized symbol. Its history, art and spirituality have been embraced by cultures around the world for nearly two thousand years. This video unites theologians and collectors with an astonishing and beautiful array of nativity scenes collected from across the globe. https://www.youtube.com/embed/M29ShR-V9Pk

2 The Story of Silent Night – Classic Collection In the quiet of an Austrian winter, a young priest received heavenly inspiration to commemorate the most significant event in history by writing the world’s most beloved Christmas carol, “Silent Night.”  https://youtu.be/nKn9wLLzha8


  LEARN!

1 Luke’s canticles – Combines four stories from Luke with insights from artists, prayers, and hymns from around the world. Based on Songs in Waiting by Paul Chandler, now the Bishop of Wyoming https://www.churchsp.org/course/lukescanticles/

2 Matthew’s Infancy Stories.  The other author of the infancy stories, much different than Luke above https://www.churchsp.org/course/matthewsinfancystories/”

3 Christmas Carols – They surround us at Christmas. How much do you know about them?https://www.churchsp.org/course/12daysofcarols/

4 Handel’s Messiah, Prophesy and Birth of the Messiah.  The premiere Christmas work with the music and text https://www.churchsp.org/course/handels-messiah-part-1-prophecy-and-birth-of-the-messiah/

5. Dickens A Christmas Carol and the Bible. The premiere Christmas novel, here with the influence of the Bible and much of Dickens time https://www.churchsp.org/course/dickens/


 LISTEN!

1 O Emmanuel A fresh exploration of the O Antiphons including traditional Advent and Christmas music. The album combines a jazz trio with children’s choir and adult voices in just the right mix of expectation and joy. https://music.apple.com/us/album/o-emmanuel/1151565367

2 Advent Lessons and Carols – Washington National Cathedral The classic way to begin Advent  – Scripture and music with a service for the season. Previous service https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwR1FJ3-dts&t=3s , Nov. 27, 2022 service, 4pm https://cathedral.org/event/advent-lessons-and-carols-4/

3. Still Forming Advent Meditations by Christianne Squires is a collection of audio meditations recorded by Christianne Squires for the Still Forming community, based on Jan Richardson’s book of blessings, Circle of Grace https://www.stillforming.com/still-forming-advent-meditations-2015

4 Spotify Play list  Advent with Sacred Ordinary Days on Spotify.  Listen and prepare for our Savior, with anticipation, longing and hope


 PRAY AND REFLECT!

1 Advent meditations. In this workshop, Rev. Hillary Raining, D.Min. guides you through a meditation with prayer, scripture, and reflection using visio Divina, or “divine seeing,” with candlelight.  http://lifelonglearningvts.teachable.com/p/advent-meditation-workshop/?src=email

2 Antiphons for Advent in English and Spanish for 2022 A devotional resource in English and Spanish created from antiphons that families and communities can use daily in Advent. The short liturgy includes a prayer for lighting candles of an Advent wreath.

An antiphon is the brief snippet of a psalm recited or chanted as a refrain at the beginning and/or end of a psalm or canticle. Antiphons were in use by the 5th century and are still in use during the services of daily prayer. The practice comes from the Jewish tradition of the congregation reciting, chanting, or singing together, the word referring to call-and-response type of singing. https://buildfaith.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Advent-Antiphons.ENG_.2022.pdf

3   Journey on the Way of love.  Designed for Christian Formation (“Sunday School”). There are 4 sessions for the 4 weeks of Advent  The Way of Love is based on a rule of life. The best known rule of life developed in Christian monastic communities is  that of St Benedict, dating from the 6th century. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/journeying-way-love/


 MAKE!

1 Advent Crafting Traditions

2 Christmas cooking – Christmas cookies. Are these the top 10 Christmas cookies? https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/top-10-christmas-cookies

3 Families celebrate  Advent and Christmas Families Celebrate Advent & Christmas is a colorful deck of cards that is full of rituals, prayers and reflections. Endlessly flexible for busy schedules, you can create a new after-meal ritual, use them as decorations, or carry them on the go. https://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/product/9781506483498/Families-Celebrate-Advent-and-Christmas-2022-23 Free promo pack at bottom!

4 Create your own advent calendar 20 advent calendars to make. https://www.parents.com/holiday/christmas/crafts/best-advent-calendars/.

5 Advent wreaths on a Budget In congregations that have tight budgets, making Advent wreaths with families may be out of reach. While making wreaths is a wonderful parish life event, buying the foam inserts, ring trays, five candles and four stakes can add up to a hefty sum.  Here is an alternative solution https://buildfaith.org/99-cent-advent-wreath/

Here is another wreath article from Episcopal Relief that go up to $50 in cost.

Christmas

Christmas , December 25, 2022

Explore Christmas Eve– A study of the scriptures, art and the meaning of the Christmas Scriptures.

 

Explore the Art of the Nativity   How the Nativity has been viewed by artists

Rediscovering the love of God this Christmas- a one minute video from the Acts8Movement of the Episcopal Church 

 

Origins of 30 Christmas Carols

 

Unlikely Christmas Carols: Bruce Cockburn’s “Cry Of A Tiny Baby”

 
 

A post from teacher and theologian David Lose: “So maybe I shouldn’t describe this Christmas carol as “unlikely” in that Bruce Cockburn has explored the Christian story and theology, along with issues of human rights, throughout his forty-year career. But it may very well be unfamiliar to you. If so, you’re in for a treat, as the Canadian folk and rock guitarist, singer-songwriter’s beautiful retelling of the Christmas story blends elements of both Luke’s tender narrative of the in-breaking good news of God to the least likely of recipients – a teenage girl, her confused fiancee, down-and-out shepherds – with Matthew’s starkly realistic picture of a baby that threatens kings by his mere existence.

Here’s the link to a video with the words .

For more David Lose writing about the Christmas Eve and Christmas readings, check out the “Christmas sermon I need to hear.”

“Space in the Manger”

by Meghan Cotter. Meghan is executive director of Micah Ecumenical Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit that offers holistic care to the community’s street homeless

“Some time back, I watched a friend in need attempt to repair five years worth of disintegrating relationships. The library, a local gymnasium, a number of area businesses and even her family had cut off ties in response to her boisterously disruptive behavior.

” She’d picked up criminal charges—a few nuisance violations, a trespassing or two and an assault on an officer. At times, even the agencies trying to help her had been left with little choice than dismissing her from their facilities. But the more the community isolated her, the more volatile became her symptoms. She grew angrier and louder. Her self-appointment as the spokesperson for her homeless peers turned radical, even threatening. Feeling ignored and stripped of personhood, she waltzed into a church one Sunday, intent on being heard. Just in time for the sermon she rose from the congregation, rolled out a sleeping bag and unleashed a number of choice words to convey the plight of Fredericksburg’s homeless.

” The following morning, the church pastor faced a critical decision. In the interest of safety for his congregation, he too considered banning her from his church building. Instead, he made up his mind to find a way to help this woman. By the end of the week, she was hospitalized and taking medications. Within the month she had stepped down to Micah’s respite home, which cares for homeless individuals when they are discharged from the hospital. She realized how sick she really was, and a new person emerged before our eyes. She reunited with family, paid off fines, regained her driver’s license, became remarkably motivated to comply with doctor’s appointments. She set goals—seeking disability, but only temporarily, going back to school, earning a nursing degree and finding a way to productively address the needs of the community’s homeless.

Read More…


“Christmas on the Edge” – Malcolm Guite

Christmas sets the centre on the edge; The edge of town, the outhouse of the inn, The fringe of empire, far from privilege And power, on the edge and outer spin Of turning worlds, a margin of small stars That edge a galaxy itself light years From some unguessed at cosmic origin. Christmas sets the centre at the edge.

And from this day our world is re-aligned A tiny seed unfolding in the womb Becomes the source from which we all unfold And flower into being. We are healed, The end begins, the tomb becomes a womb, For now in him all things are re-aligned.


Alexander Shaia – “Solstice, Shepherds & Your Animal Spirit”

Alexander Shaia is the author of Heart and Mind: The Four-Gospel Journey for Radical Transformation. A number of years we read the book together in Christian ed.

In this video he is talking about the shepherds in Luke’s Gospel. The video starts at the 2:42 mark to get to his main message:

You can read portions of the transcribed text here

“The text is really primarily about your life whenever your life is in the deepest night, when your life is in the deepest dark.”

“The Beauty of the Shepherds story in Luke is that it tells about the journey we make hearing deep in the night of our life an angel announce that there is a birth but that we have make a journey through the night to the dawn where we will see with our own eyes that fresh radiance born before us.”


A Christmas Message from Bishop Goff – “Where is this stupendous stranger?” 

Link to the video

“So I invite us all to a spiritual discipline in this holy season and that is to spend ome time with someone you don’t ordinarily engage…maybe someone of a different generation either much older or much younger than you or someone of a different race or ethnicity, a different culture or religion, a different economic circumstance.

“Have a cup of coffee together or a meal together, talk and listen deeply. Look for the face of Christ in that person. Because as we come to really know a stranger in our midst we welcome Christ who was himself a stranger and we find surprising connections that we never imagined with other natives of this world God made.


Christmas Eve , December 24, 1968, at the Moon with Apollo 8

53 years ago on Christmas Eve we witnessed the moving reading of the first 10 verses of Genesis for the largest audience up to that time. They were told to something appropriate. The astronauts have reflected on the event. A newspaper friend of Borman tried to think of what to say and he could come up with nothing after a night’s work. His wife said (raised in convent in France) suggested, “Why don’t you start in the beginning” He said “Where?”. She said “Genesis in the Bible.” They reflected later – “Why didn’t we think of that.” Borman explained they tried to convey not happen stance but power behind world and behind life gave it meaning. As he later explained, “I had an enormous feeling that there had to be a power greater than any of us-that there was a God, that there was indeed a beginning.”

The full story is here

Advent IV

The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not yet Christ. – Thomas Merton

Explore Advent, Part 4 – Over the Sundays in Advent there will be a presentation each week focusing on that week’s scriptures, art and commentary and how they demonstrate the themes of advent. Let’s continue with Advent 4.

From the Presiding Bishop- Advent Messages 2012-2021 

Feast of the Annunciation –  9 months before we celebrate the nativity there is the related Feast of the Annunciation on March 25 which is described here .

 

Art of the Annunciation – The Annunication has been depicted in art for a thousand years. Here is a study of the symbols of the Annunciation.

 

Blessed Like Mary- David Lose invites us to understand that we are Blessed Like Mary .

National Geographic explores“How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman”

A Digital Nativity.

 

What if current social media like Facebook, Gmail, etc had been available at the birth of Christ ? Watch the Digital Nativity


Arts and Faith- Advent 4, relating art and scripture

From Art and Faith

Henry Ossawa Tanner, “The Visitation,” 1909–1910

Henry Ossawa Tanner’s realist depiction of the Visitation invites us around Elizabeth’s table at her house, at the moment when Mary arrives and greets her. The setting is spare, except for the table, which is covered in a white cloth and has bread, wine, and an ample bowl of fruit awaiting consumption.

Mary is just entering the house. Her face is kind and joyful, her bodily presence already humming the Magnificat before she utters the words that will come to sing her praise to the Lord. She is a familiar Mary, a relative to us all, and her warm presence recalls the homecomings and joyful arrivals of loved ones that we experience, especially around the holidays.

Elizabeth’s expression welcoming Mary is complex. In light of Tanner’s realist style, we would expect her rising from the table, moving toward Mary in anticipation of a warm embrace—and that is sure to come. But Tanner catches Elizabeth here in a moment of awe instead. If Mary’s body sings the Magnificat, Elizabeth embodies her words of awe and wonder: “How does this happen that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Her upheld hands are in a position of prayer honoring the presence of God in their midst, in her home, around her table. Elizabeth’s expression is one of serene reverence, a total response to the divine presence she senses in the core of her being, confirmed by the stirring of the child in her womb. “Blessed are you, Mary”—this Elizabeth knows, utters, and prays.

The meeting between Mary and Elizabeth teaches us about the holy. Tanner shows us that we encounter the holy in the everyday moments of our lives—an arrival, a homecoming, a table set for a meal. But Elizabeth’s expression reminds us that while we find holiness in this world, it is not of this world, that finding holiness is a glimpse of God’s magnificent otherness that beckons us to draw close, but also fills us with wonder and awe. May we find and welcome holiness in these last days of Advent as we await the light of Christ.

Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29

Why are we pushing Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29 in support of our Village Harvest food distribution ?

1. There is a need.

In a sermon on September 22, 2019 Catherine wrote “I have had people who come to the distribution tell me that they wouldn’t have had enough food to get through the month without the food we provide.”

The Free Lance-Star reported in Aug., 2018, “about 31,000 residents of Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford consistently lack enough food to maintain a healthy, active life. They’re considered food insecure by the United States.” Department of Agriculture.

We are called to do like Jesus – and he fed people both physically and spiritually. Witness the stories of the Feeding of the 4,000 and 5,000.

2. There is a cost to recover.

We are averaging $170(average 10 months) or over $2,000 a year. Help us recover the cost and even add to our resources to do more.

3. The ministry has been successful.

8 years later we have served over 6,800 clients over 64,500 pounds of food. This year the average pounds of food per person is over 12 which at $6 a pound is worth $72. It is clearly one of our more visible and valuable outreach expressions from our church.

4. We have goals and a way for you to help.

Our goal in #Giving Tuesday is to raise 3 months support or $500.

• A $10 donation feeds 6 people, 12 pounds each. It provides 72 pounds of food and $430 in total value!

• A $20 donation feeds 12 people, 12 pounds each. It provides 144 pounds of food and $860 in total value!

Help us on Giving Tuesday, Nov 29

Two ways to donate:

1. On or before Nov 29 make out a check to St. Peter’s with “Giving Tuesday” in the memo line. Send to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, P. O. Box 399 Port Royal, Virginia 22535

2. St. Peter’s PayPal account

Thank you for your support!

Three Teaching Points for Advent

Three Teaching Points for Advent by Sarah Bentley Allred

“Christmas is a big mystery. We do not understand how exactly God comes to be among us in human form. Taking time to prepare to celebrate Christmas allows us to enter more fully into the mystery. As we say in Godly Play, if we don’t take time to get ready for Christmas, we could “walk right by this mystery” without ever really experiencing it. And so, we spend the four weeks before Christmas anticipating and preparing for the coming of Christ.

“Advent has a double spiritual meaning. While we are anticipating the arrival of the birth of Jesus, we are also anticipating the arrival of the second coming, when Jesus will return for the Final Judgement.

1. Anticipation “Advent is a season of preparation, expectant waiting. We are preparing to remember and to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is a time to practice waiting, a universal experience for people of all ages. During this time, we remember the prophets that foretold Jesus’ birth (see Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6-7, Jeremiah 23:5-6) and the nine-month journey of Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus (see Luke 1-2, Matthew 1).

“People prepare to enter the mystery of Christmas in different ways. You might invite members of the congregation to explore how Christians intentionally anticipate Christmas through song, prayer, scripture, liturgy, service, Advent wreaths, or Advent calendars.

2. Incarnation “During Advent, the core of what we are waiting for, anticipating, is the Incarnation, God becoming human. As Christians, we believe that God loves us, and all of creation, so much that God became embodied in the form of Jesus. The Incarnation is an incredible mystery—we do not know exactly how God became human. God’s action in taking on flesh sanctifies our flesh – it makes holy the skin we wear. Advent provides an opportunity to explore what the Incarnation means for our lives.

“What does God living in a body mean for our relationship to the human body, our body as well as the other bodies in this world? What does God’s choice to inhabit the body of a baby mean?

3. Immanuel (or Emmanuel) “Each Advent every church I know sings, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (Hymnal 1982, #56). Immanuel is one of the names for Jesus found in scripture (Isaiah 7:14), it means “God with us.” The season of Advent anticipates God’s time on earth in the person of Jesus. During this time God was with us in a special way. God’s presence with us in human form means that God knows what it is like to be human.”

The Wonderful Season of Advent

The name “Advent” actually comes from the Latin word adventus which means “coming.” It is a reminder of how the Jewish nation waited for the Messiah and how Christians are now waiting for the return of Christ.

Advent which begins this Sunday Nov. 28 is like a breath of fresh air -a new church year, a new set of Gospel readings from Mark, and the anticipation of the birth of Christ.

The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. It blends together a penitential spirit, very similar to Lent, a liturgical theme of preparation for the Second and Final Coming of the Lord, called the Parousia, and a joyful theme of getting ready for the Bethlehem event.

The Advent wreath, four candles on a wreath of evergreen, is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. The Advent Wreath is beautiful and evocative reminder of the life-giving qualities of light. The evergreens used in the wreath are reminders of ongoing life, even in the face of death.

There are 4 candles, one for each week in Advent, are used with one larger white candle in the middle as the Christ candle. During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. Three of the candles are purple. This is the color of penitence and fasting as well as he color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King.

The Third candle is pink, a color of joy, the joy that Jesus is almost here and fasting is almost order. Gaudete Sunday (from the Latin meaning “rejoice”) which is taken from Philippians 4:4-5, the Entrance Antiphon of the day.

Advent begins in a season of darkness but using the Advent wreath we see light winning over darkness. Lighting candles is a way we can keep time in Church And as the season passes, and another candle is lit each week, light finally wins out over darkness with the turn of the solstice in the stars and the birth of Christ on the ground.

At the center of the wreath is a white candle, which is called the Christ Candle. This candle is lit on Christmas Eve as a reminder that Jesus, the light of the world, has been born and has come to dwell with us.

It is a season of waiting, of rest but also a time to find new beginnings. Since the 900s Advent has been considered the beginning of the Church year. It is antidote for our society’s frantic behavior during the holiday season. There is so much in the world that tells you, you are not enough or you haven’t do enough before Christmas but you have to find out during Advent that you are enough.

The first week of Advent is all about hope. Lamentations 3: 21-24: “Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; “therefore I will wait for him.” (NIV).

The altar changes during Advent to represent the new season, particularly in the use of color. Today, many churches have begun to use blue instead of purple, as a means of distinguishing Advent from Lent. Blue also signifies the color of the night sky or the waters of the new creation in Genesis 1. Blue emphasizes the season is also about hope and anticipation of the coming of Christ. Christ is about transformation as the sky changes from dark to light filling our lives with grace.

Advent Traditions

Advent Wreath