The Advent Challenge
In one short month we will be stepping into the season of Advent. You may know it as the season that coincides with the crazy days leading up to Christmas – parties, shopping, decorating, school events, relatives in town, and more. The profound paradox is that Advent was designed with just the opposite intention: to be a season of calm, quiet, reflective anticipation of the presence of Jesus in the world. December 3, 2017 is Advent 1 and marks the first day of the New Year on the Christian Calendar.
Before I describe my Advent challenge to you, let me say something about the liturgical calendar, for knowledge of it is critical for moving along on your spiritual journey.
To start, it is important to understand that the liturgical calendar is a plan. That is the case with any calendar. But the liturgical calendar is a plan for becoming the person God created you to be. It is a plan for growing up in your soul, and living your life as Jesus would if he were you. This plan has two parts – one for your temporal life, and one for your eternal life. The temporal portion represents about a quarter of the cycle, while the eternal portion represents about three quarters of the cycle. It helps to think of the liturgical calendar as a pie with six pieces of unequal size; three small slices (Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany) in the temporal portion, and three larger slices (Lent, Easter, and Pentecost) in the eternal portion.
This circular design of the liturgical calendar mimics the circular systems of our celestial seasons, yet with the intent of moving the practitioner not back to the place they had been, but rather like a ziggurat that cycles up and up and up to higher and higher realms of one’s best self.
Each season works a different part of one’s character. Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time for wondering what we would ask Jesus to do in the world, if he were to actually show up here. We wait as a pregnant woman waits, with hope, wonder, anxiety, and even joy. Then Jesus arrives. We call this Christmas, and for twelve days we celebrate the human presence of Jesus in the world. He is the light of the world. And then, on the Feast of Epiphany, that light is transferred to us. In the darkest days of the year, we are meant to be the light of Jesus in the world around us. The season of Epiphany comes to an end on Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is 46 days, which includes 6 Sundays. Ash Wednesday’s date is determined by the date of Easter, and the date of Easter is established based on a very arcane calculation based on the cycles of the moon (for more information see page 15 in the Book of Common Prayer).
One note of interest: Advent, Christmas, and the beginning of Epiphany are set dates. Christmas is always Dec. 25, and Epiphany always begins on January 6. Advent always starts four Sundays prior to December 25. This certainty further roots these three seasons of the liturgical calendar in the temporal. The dates for the eternal portion of our liturgical calendar move. Easter is on a different date each year, which means the season after Pentecost, which begins 50 days after Easter, varies in length, and Lent, while the same length, falls anywhere from February to April.
We set ourselves under the discipline of the liturgical calendar freely and intentionally. It is a plan for life that teaches us how to wait for Jesus, serve with Jesus, act as if we are Jesus, contemplate our eternal relationship with Jesus, celebrate our eternal relationship with Jesus, and act as eternal beings in the world right now.
Here is why pattern matching our life to the liturgical calendar matters: when that time comes that requires us to be patient, or action oriented, or to suffer, or to be disciplined and diligent, we know how to act. I’ll give you an example… a woman dropped by my office. It was July, and yet she told me she was in Lent, and she was speaking truth because she was a practitioner of the liturgical calendar. Something had been set upon her, beyond her control that caused her to consider her eternal relationship with God. And because of her past, freely chosen obedience to the season of Lent, she knew how to act in the face of this now not chosen state of suffering. We prayed together, and before she left she said to me: “I know that Easter always follows Lent.”
And so, back to Advent. I invite you to practice Advent with me. Join me in a quiet, peaceful, contemplative season, by committing to get all your Christmas gifts purchased, and Christmas cards prepared by December 3. Prepare for Advent, so you may be more fully formed by this sacred season so marvelously set in our liturgical calendar.
Sunday, November 19, is the Ingathering at Epiphany. This is the day all parishioners make their pledge to Epiphany as an act of thanksgiving for what God has given them, and as a practical way of determining the 2018 Epiphany budget.
During the 7:30 am, 8:45 am, 11 am, and 5 pm services you will be invited to bring your pledge cards and prayers to the altar. This part of the Sunday service acts as a symbol of our practical and prayerful commitment to Epiphany.
This is what will happen: At the end of the Prayers of the People, I will invite all of you to come behind the altar and lay your pledge cards and prayers on the altar. If you have already sent in your pledge, you can write your name on a blank pledge card if you like, or just bring forward your prayer. There is a colored piece of paper in the bulletin upon which you can write a prayer or a word or a name. These will be held in confidence, placed in the Epiphany prayer box, and on March 31, they will be burned during the Easter Vigil.
Epiphany is a spiritual center of gravity that continues to attract people wherever they are on their spiritual journey. It is a place of beauty and energy that well reflects the vitality of life lived under the reign of God. Thank you for being a part of God’s plan for this community. This church was made to be a place of grace, peace, and blessing for a world hungry for these things… and these things are real and a reality for Epiphany because of your willingness to listen and live into the work of God in our midst. Thank you for your commitment.
Yours in Christ,
Choral Evensong for the Feast of Christ the King
November 26 at 5 pm in the Chapel
Sung by the Epiphany Choir
An evening of song and prayer in a sacred place.
A Report From The Music Director Search Committee
The Music Director Search Committee is pleased to report that we have made significant positive progress with our search. We had over 50 applicants from 22 states and 3 countries apply for the role. We are blessed to have had impressive candidates from many different music backgrounds, faiths, education, and work experience. We have narrowed the list and are in the process of conducting interviews, and we remain on track to our goal of hiring someone by Spring 2018. As a part of the hiring process, we have conducted listening sessions with the Parish community and heard feedback about where people would like to take the music program, and we have incorporated this feedback into our search. For visual summaries of parish feedback, please click here. The Committee remains excited and dedicated to our work-please speak with any of us anytime should you have any questions. Committee members are: Sherman Griffin (Chair), Laura Blackmore, Beth Clark, Doyt Conn, Bill Hurt, Laurel Nesholm, John Starbard, and Gary Sundem. We can be reached via: email@example.com .
On behalf of the Committee,
Advent Day of Quiet
December 9 from 11 to 5 pm
Step away from the holiday busyness and into a holy space of quiet reflection for a time of prayer, listening, creating, and feeding your soul for a few hours or the whole day.
Pray, play with art supplies and simply be quiet. Feel free to come for part or all of the time; drop ins without registration welcome. Lunch and snacks provided.
Contact Diana Bender (firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-459-9140) for questions or to register.
11 am – Orientation to Day of Silence in Fireside Room
Noon-12:30 – Lunch available in Fireside Room Kitchen
1:30 pm – Guided meditation with Pieter Drummond
5 pm – Evening Prayer in the Great Hall
– Chapel will be open for prayer with Taize music and the Labyrinth.
– The Icon room will be open for silent prayer.
– The Fireside Room will have couches and tables with art supplies and prayer exercises.
– The Garden Room will be open as a quiet space for journaling and relaxation.
Feel free to come for any part or all of this experience.
Come to the Newcomers’ Event
November 19 at 6 pm at Doyt’s House
If you’re relatively new to Epiphany and would like to spend some time getting to know our rector and other leaders of the parish, join us for a reception at Doyt’s house after the evening service. Beverages and appetizers will be available. Please RSVP Todd Foster at email@example.com.
Thanksgiving Day At Epiphany
Thanksgiving Day Eucharist
November 23 at 9 am in the Chapel
Begin your Thanksgiving Day by giving thanks to God for all God has done for you.
Third Annual Thanksgiving Dinner
Arrive as early as 3 pm, Dinner promptly at 4 pm in the Great Hall.
Are you dreading all the work of cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner? Thinking of not even going to the trouble to celebrate Thanksgiving? Planning to turn on the TV and watch a football game that you don’t even care about? Consider instead joining your Epiphany family on Thanksgiving Day in the Great Hall for dinner at 4 pm with all the trimmings! Terry Carlisle will be cooking the turkeys. Bring a dish to share and perhaps a game to play. Feel free to come as early as 3 pm to finish pre-paring your dish, play games, or just hang out.
Please contact Diane Carlisle in the Parish Office at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how many people are coming, and what you will be bringing to the potluck.
Help Shelter Kids Have A Merry Christmas!
1. We adopt 30 YWCA families, providing two presents (approx. $40 each) per child and a $50 Safeway grocery card for a holiday meal. Half of the families have one child and half have two. You can adopt one or more of these families by emailing Sherilyn Peterson at email@example.com and telling her if you have a preference for one or two child families. She will get you the specific family details. The gifts need to be wrapped and delivered to church with the grocery card by the start of the 11am service on Sunday December 10. You will see an Adopt-a-Family Tree in church starting Thanksgiving weekend. The ornaments on that tree simply have a reminder about how to adopt a family but you do not need to take an ornament. Just email Sherilyn. If adopting a family is more than you can take on yourself, consider teaming up with others to adopt a family together!
2. There will also be another YWCA Giving Tree at church starting Thanksgiving weekend which will have ornaments on it, each specifying a gift for a child or teenager. These gifts need to be delivered unwrapped to church by the start of the 11 am service on Sunday December 10. These gifts are for children that move into shelter housing so close to the holidays that they are not yet part of the Adopt-a-Family program. The December 10th deadline is important to allow us to transport the gifts to the YWCA in time for them to organize and distribute the gifts.
Thank you all for your generosity. We at Epiphany are blessed in so many ways. We can share our blessings with those less fortunate.
Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
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