From the Rector
This weekend we will conclude the short season of Advent, with its call to watch and wait, and then bound headlong into the joy of Christmas. Even as we stand on the brink of this great feast, I do hope you’ll take time for the final Sunday of Advent, either on Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. or Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. Deacon Shea will be preaching about Mary and how her life and faith are more than simply an interesting subplot of the Nativity, and we’ll pray the Angelus, the ancient rite honoring the mystery of the Incarnation and invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin to her beloved son.
Then we’ll take seven and a half minutes to breath and eat before diving headlong into the joyful worship of Christmas Eve. Our service times remain unchanged this year: 3:00, 5:00, 8:00, and 10:30, with musical preludes before the 5:00, 8:00, and 10:30 services. I encourage those who plan to attend the 3:00 and 5:00 services to arrive plenty early, and I also invite everyone to be extra-hospitable to those around you who seem new. The act of making room for a visitor who arrives late can leave as positive an impression, and have as big an impact on their experience of Christmas worship, as the gorgeous music and beautiful flowers.
I want to share with you in advance the Vestry decision not to give away the Christmas loose-plate offering this year. The simple truth is that we are not in a financial position to give away these funds, as we remain behind on our revenue for the year. Last year we wound up with a $100,000 year-end deficit, and we simply can’t risk ending this year similarly behind. It is our hope that next year we will be on firmer financial footing in December to once again be able to give the Christmas loose-plate offering away for outreach. In the meantime, we shouldn’t overlook all the good and holy things that happen through the operating budget of Transfiguration – including a considerable amount of outreach – so I humbly invite everyone to do all they can to fulfill their pledges before December 31. I also want you to know that all additional generosity in this holy season will help ensure we finish the year financially stable, so we can hit the ground running on January 1.
Finally, I want to share with you a little poem by the great fourth-century saint, Ephrem. It is a reminder that there are, in truth, three great “advents” of the Lord in our world. The first happened on that fateful night in Bethlehem, which we will celebrate soon enough. The third will occur at the end of days, and we’ve been pondering this during the season of Advent. The second, middle “coming” of the Lord is happening all the time – any and every time you invite the Lord to take up residence in your soul and illuminate your life with his light. God is not just “long ago and far away,” nor is he removed from us until finally coming again in power and glory. God abides with all who love him, who make room for him to enter in.
At this feast of the nativity
Let each person wreathe the door of his heart
So that the Holy Spirit may delight in that door
Enter in and take up residence there;
Then by the Spirit we will be made holy.
(Ephrem of Syria, 4th century)