Church News: St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church
As the month of December rolls around one realizes how quickly we are approaching the Christmas season. Where has the time gone? Like many of you, I’ve noticed the increased energy around our lovely little island of Mayne. People seem to be preparing for this festive time in a number of ways; extra social gatherings, getting the house ready for friends and company to visit from the mainland, decorating the home, and of course the endless off- island shopping trips that have to be made. It sure seems to be a busy, if not hectic, time. Someone said to me the other day, ‘the count-down has started for the mad rush till Christmas’.
This is one of the reasons why I’ve personally come to appreciate the Christian tradition offered in the celebration of Advent and Christmas. Although difficult to pinpoint an exact origin, it is believed that Advent came about during the Early Church (4th century) when the faithful were expectantly waiting for the return of God’s Son, Jesus, as was promised in the Scriptures. Our forebears wanted to have a liturgical season which marked this belief, and, as Advent means ‘coming’, four consecutive weeks were set aside in the church calendar to prepare for this. In addition, as the faithful were also preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus (God, in human form), it became a natural progression to have Christmas follow immediately after Advent. Thus, the combination of Advent and Christmas allowed for a powerful understanding that God’s love was a constant reality for people – one which awaited them at the end of the ages and which surrounded them in the present.
In many ways, I believe, this is the heart of Christmas for us – knowing that God’s love meets us at all times and in all moments of our life. It is a love that not only permeates through the vastness of time and ages, but has the ability to meet us in the common day to day experiences of our lives and among the people we meet. We read in Luke’s Gospel of this proclamation where it says ‘behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, that this day in the city of David is born for us, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord”.
I also believe that this is the Good News of God that allows for a time of true joy amidst stressful, busy and even difficult or sad times.
Yes it is true that there is perhaps no other time of year when such magnitude of stress and anxiety can be felt for preparing for a celebration. Whether one is subject to cultural pressures to prepare for a season or the pressure to give in to a wave of commercialism – it’s difficult to avoid line-ups, off-island traffic jams, and seasonal obligations. Yet, perhaps it’s also an occasion, with this promise, to pause amongst the busyness, and recognize its strength. Perhaps it’s an occasion amongst the swirl of many memories – to sit quietly amongst family and friend, and encounter joy. Perhaps, it’s an occasion, amongst the tension of wanting to make Christmas extra special, to look around and see the extra special beauty and wonder of this island in which we live and recognise something greater is among us.
Indeed these are the very things that come from God, and are with us. And when we truly to recognise them and see them for what they are – then Christmas comes.
As the Anglican priest at St. Mary’s Church here on Mayne Island. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very blessed Christmas. I would also like to extend a warm invitation for all of you to join us for our worship services this year. In addition to our regular Sunday worship our Christmas celebrations include:
Sunday, December 17th, 10:00 am Lessons and Carols Service and Parish Bake Sale
Sunday, December 24th, 7:30 pm, Christmas Eve Service
Monday, December 25th, 10:00 am, Christmas Day Service
The Rev. Canon Dr. Blair Haggart,