O HEAVENLY Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ did take our nature upon him, and was baptized for our sakes in the river Jordan: Mercifully grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may also be partakers of thy Holy Spirit; through him whom thou didst send to be our Saviour and Redeemer, even the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience, and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Church’s preparation for the coming of Christ continues with readings that kindle hope for the fulfillment of the kingdom which God has established in Jesus Christ. The Old Testament reading is one of the classic prophecies of a future king in the line of David, one whom God will anoint with His Spirit, and whose reign and rule will bring both judgement and salvation, and will establish peace and harmony over the created order. Psalm 72, a petition to God that the king rule with righteousness and justice, continues the same themes. A major motif in the Epistle lection, which cites Isaiah 11.10, is hope, based on the confirmation of the Old Testament promises by the coming of Jesus. The “eschatological” ( ie., revealing the end or final destiny) character of the coming of Jesus Christ inot the world are dramatized in the Gospel, and the appearance of John the Baptist with his preaching of the kingdom and call to repentance.
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.
A WORD FROM THE RECTOR
THE SEASON of Advent which begins today marks both the beginning of a new year in the Church calendar, but also a season of preparation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Advent collect describes how Jesus came to us in great humility. He was born of a woman and laid in a manger. God in the flesh! This is what we will celebrate at Christmas. Over the course of this coming year we will seek to grow in our response to the Incarnation by learning to love more deeply the world Jesus came to redeem.
But the coming of Christ is not simply to be understood as something in that occurred once in the past. He comes to us here and now in and through His Holy Spirit, who draws us into union with God and with each other, and so in Advent we renew our intention to live as members of the Body of Christ with peace and joy and all the gifts and fruits of the Spirit!
The coming of Christ also has a future aspect, as we declare in our Creed, “He will come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead.” Advent teaches us to look forward with hope and expectation to that day when “we shall rise to the life immortal” in the new heaven and the new earth where God will be all in all. As we look forward to the Advent of Gods kingdom, we seek to live now as worthy citizens of that kingdom.
The colour of Advent is purple, representing penitence, hope, and expectation, with which we prepare for Jesus ‘coming. As John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord by calling people to repentance, so Advent is a natural time to renew our spiritual lives through the practice of prayer, stillness, meditation, and confession.
May God bless you all in this Holy season, and throughout the coming church year.
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people pardon and peace; that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord: Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O GOD, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant, that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
LORD, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This week’s sermon
A WORD FROM THE FATHERS
A hermit has persevered for thirty years. One day he said to himself, ‘I have now spent so many years here and I have had not vision and performed no miracle as did the Fathers who were monks before me’. And he was tempted to go back into the world. Then he was told, ‘What miracle do you want to perform that would be more extraordinary than the patience and courage God has given you and which allowed you to persevere for so long?’From “The sayings of the Desert Fathers‘
O ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who crownest the year with thy goodness, and hast given unto us the fruits of the earth in their season: Give us grateful hearts, that we may unfeignedly thank thee for all thy loving- kindness, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A WORD FROM THE FATHERS
“WE ought all of us always to give thanks to God for both the universal and the particular gifts of souls and body that He bestows upon us. The universal gift consists of the four elements and all that comes into being though them, as well as all marvelous works of God in the divine Scriptures. The particular gifts consist of all that God has given to each individual. These include wealth, so that one can perform acts of charity; poverty, so that one can endure it with patience and gratitude; authority, so that one can exercise righteous judgment and establish virtue; obedience and service, so that one can more readily attain salvation of soul; health, so that one can assist those in need and undertake work worthy of God, sickness; so that one may earn the crown of patience; spiritual knowledge and strength, so that one may acquire virtue; weakness and ignorance, so that, turning one’s back on worldly things, one may be under obedience in stillness and humility; unsought loss of goods and possessions, so that one may deliberately seek to be saved and may be helped when incapable of shedding all one’s possessions or even of giving alms; ease and prosperity, so that one may voluntarily struggle and suffer to attain the virtues and thus become dispassionate and fit to save other souls, trials and hardship, so that those who cannot eradicate their own will may be saved in spite of themselves, and those capable of joyful endurance may attain perfection.”(St. Peter of Damascus, 12th century spiritual writer)
O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A WORD FROM THE FATHERS
“To have faith is to die for Christ and for His commandments; to believe that His death brings life; to regard poverty as wealth, and lowliness and humiliation as true glory; to believe that by not possessing anything, one possesses everything.”
St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022 A.D.)