“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Advent is not a tame season.
Those who have been through the Advent mill of readings before will know that - in addition to Mary and Joseph and the tender baby - we meet John the Baptist.
Hairy and rough, vulgar and brash, he represents to us a stark call from God: wake up! reform your ways! He is a voice in the wilderness - a bush man upturning the usual order of life.
The call to spiritual wakefulness is not tame.
The call to repentance is not tame.
Both wakefulness and repentance demand discipline, humility, and courage.
And nor are we called to be tame followers of the Holy One John prophesied would come after him.
I talk to forthright Christians these days who are willing to stick their necks out and oppose neglect of the weak.
I see gatherings calling on political leaders to ensure that every 40hr wage is a livable wage that keeps people out of poverty.
I see people calling for mental health support in the wake of the suicide at the legislature.
I see people thinking deeply about world events, not jumping to conclusions, but rigorously seeking the truth, and pausing to imagine deeply the human impact.
I encounter people advocating for low-income housing and rightful support for seniors living.
I see people drastically changing their lifestyles and seeking to be responsible with the resources of land that we have.
These are all 'Advent' works. They are activities that are about a kingdom that is on the horizon, but which we have not yet reached. These are activities that call us to wake up and not just 'go with the flow.' These are activities that take courage, thoughtfulness, discernment, study, compassion, and vision.
We can't do it all, but we can all do something. A small act in the right direction is still an act in the right direction.
I celebrate this Advent all that St. Augustine's people are doing to give voice to this kingdom appearing - in response to Jesus who 'baptizes with fire', whose blade is at the root of the tree.
Your labor is not in vain.
Nor is your active hope for the world in vain.
May your hope this season be untamed.
We gather these 4 Sundays in prayer, in community, and in hope.
- HEALING SERVICE AND ANOINTING - (Advent III, December 15th). We reflect on the brokenness and frailty of our life, and God's words of healing and wholeness. In a very simple act, you are welcome to receive hands laid on your head and oil placed on your forehead as an ancient and active prayer for healing. This will be done at the altar rail. You may come forward on behalf of yourself or for another. (Sanctuary decoration: We will decorate the sanctuary after service this day with egg nog and cookies. Please bring some Christmas treats if you can)
- RETREAT MORNING (Wednesday, December 11th, 9am-1pm) Silence has the power to invite us richly into heightened attention and focus. Centered around two Advent meditations, you will be invited, led, and guided to engage in a deeper engagement with this season. God is always at work - let us pause together and hear God's voice. Oldsters and newbies both welcome.
- Christmas Festival (Friday, December 20th, 6-8pm) - A bonfire in the parking lot, sweets, and warm drinks. Mark the last day of school and winter Solstice this Advent! We will be inviting the neighbourhood to this one, so please bring a friend!
- KID'S PAGEANT! - (Advent IV December 22nd) Kids tell the story like no other. We will give our talented and amazing St. A's kids front stage the Sunday before Christmas to thrill us with the story of Jesus' birth. Don't miss it!
- CHRISTMAS EVE
- 4PM Holy Communion - A traditional, but simply presented service geared to accommodate families with young kids and others who need a shorter engagement. It will last within an hour and include a candlelight procession, carol singing, a simple engagement with Jesus' story of birth, and communion (bread and wine). We welcome all followers of Jesus to our communion table.
- 9PM Carol Sing - There is so much great Christmas music. Join us in this extended preparation for worship.
- 9:30PM Holy Communion - a traditional Candlelight vigil service in the Anglican Christian tradition on the eve of our Christmas celebration.
- CHRISTMAS DAY 8AM Holy Communion - a very simple communion service to mark this most holy of days. There is a surprising freshness to this simple day and service that is beautiful every year. The trumpets ring out, the angels sing. Jesus Christ is born this day!
- 12 days of Christmas - Be sure that you are signed up for our newsletter (through the website) to receive a daily meditation to help mark the 12 days of Christmas. Remember, Advent is waiting and preparation, the actual Christmas celebration doesn't begin until the 25th!
- 12th night party (January 4th, 5pm) - we mark the end of the Christmas season, the night before our celebration of Epiphany, with a simple potluck meal and wassail. Be well!