In this year of pandemic, our friend Liz Crumlish, soon to be ordained deacon at St Oswald’s Church, Maybole (see this link) offers some reflections to accompany us through Advent.
These are based on the Daily Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary, and there’s an illustrated thought for every day from 29 November. You can download these in the form of a booklet at this link.
Liz starts: “As we seek to proclaim the simplicity of God’s gift to the world in a time when many are grieving or fearful, when many are separated from loved ones, when the darkness seems all pervasive, we are called to be the light, to kindle the flame, igniting the divine spark in each until the light of Christ shines brightly.”
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:5)
This Sunday (29 November), as the season of Advent begins, Christians across the country – and further afield – will once more join together in prayer at 7.00pm in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As with previous weeks during lockdown, 14 Christian churches and organisations across the country, including the Methodist Church, have co-signed the letter calling for prayer.
“We come now to a significant place in the long journey that we have made over these past months and the place we have come to is where the season of Advent begins.
“The season speaks of Hope and, though it begins with a recognition that we still face the darkness, brings with it the promise of light. The first Sunday in Advent will, in years past, have echoed to the singing of ancient and inspiring words:
O come, O come, Immanuel/and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here/until the Son of God appear.
“The words express the longing of the people of God to know the coming of God amongst them. In anticipation of this promise being fulfilled, the people of God sing out:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you O Israel.
“In our hearts, the promise still resonates and so we await the coming of God. Indeed, we may say that the season of Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation and one that yields the promise of God: ‘From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.’ (Isaiah 64:4) We wait and we pray.”
You can download the letter and read the prayer at this link.
Today is the anniversary of the death in 1093 of Margaret of Scotland, King Malcolm III’s queen, who was canonised in 1250. Our church is dedicated to St Margaret, and we celebrated our patronal festival yesterday with a pleasingly high turn-out of worshippers but, alas, none of our usual music. We hope for better things by the time we next read Proverbs 31!
Our priest-in-charge, Very Rev Kenny Rathband, spoke of Margaret in his homily: “The saints who have gone before us are not necessarily remembered because they were without fault, or because they had special gifts. They are remembered because they stand as beacons of encouragement, of people who have sought to live a life of faith.
“They stand as lamps on a lampstand, shining for others to follow. They do not make themselves the focus, but rather they shine by reflecting the light of Christ and the service of others.”
You can read the whole homily at this link, and, if you click the image, you’ll link to a wonderful account of Margaret’s life in the Clerk of Oxford’s blog.
Those of you who, under normal circumstances, like to travel round the country to go to different churches, can do this virtually through the Scottish Episcopal Church YouTube channel.
A Eucharist service is broadcast at 11:00am every Sunday, and other services on the channel include Evening Prayer. As with all YouTube recordings you can watch at any convenient time afterwards.
The latest Diocesan E-News reports that many worshippers from our diocese have found the services deeply spiritual and uplifting.