Gathering around the Lord’s table each week we celebrate the fact that we are the People of God, his chosen ones, those whom he has called to be his hands and voice within the creation. To help us live this life we listen each week to the Word of God giving us a glimpse of the world God intends for us, and challenging us to live up to our calling, and each week we are strengthened with the food of life to enable us to be disciples. Today we hear the story of the beginning of Jesus’s ministry: he came proclaiming the good news; he came healing the sick; he came and called people by name to be his followers. If we wanted to think of the life of Jesus in a sound-bite, it would be these tasks: proclaiming, healing, calling.
0900 Morning Prayer
1000 PARISH MASS
There is no break between Christmas and Ordinary Time one flows almost seamlessly into the other through the Baptism of Jesus. We ended our Christmas Season thinking about the revelation of the Son of God people realising who this Jesus of Nazareth actually was and this continues today, as we interject a passage from Saint John before we begin our weekly reading through Saint Matthews Gospel. New Year is about beginnings, and as we return to the beginning of Our Lords public ministry there is a sense of something exciting about to happen even though we know the story, we dive into it once more, like returning to a favourite novel or film. So it is with joy that we stand in the country of the river Jordan, and recognise Jesus of Nazareth as the Chosen One of God, who offers himself to do Gods work.
In the East, this Season of Christmas is called the ‘Time of Manifestation’, or Showing. Today is the ‘Feast of the Manifestation’, or the Showing of the Saviour to the whole world, to all nations. In the wise men who travel from the East, we see all the nations other than the people of Israel being welcomed at the New Temple of the New Covenant - the new born child in the manger. A look at the Psalm response shows this: “All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.” The same is true of the key word in the second reading: “Revelation”. Remember that for the people of Israel this was to be their Messiah, come to restore their fortunes. By this feast, we proclaim God’s plan was to extend his salvation to men and women of every nation, of every time and every place - including us. In many ways this is our Christmas Feast, when we celebrate the Good News of the Saviour’s birth revealed at last to us.
Behold, the great Creator makes
Himself a house of clay,
a robe of virgin flesh He takes
which He will wear for aye.
Hark, hark, the wise eternal Word
like a weak infant cries!
In form of servant is the Lord,
and God in cradle lies.
This wonder all the world amazed,
it shook the starry frame;
squadrons of spirits stood and gazed,
then down in troops they came.
Glad shepherds ran to view this sight;
a choir of angels sings,
and eastern sages with delight
adore this King of kings.
Join then, all hearts that are not stone,
and all our voices prove,
to celebrate this holy One,
the God of peace and love.
Here we enter a new stage of Advent: having spent so much time on the Second Coming, now we look back, to remember the details of the Lord’s First Coming. Today we focus on the characters of Mary and Joseph, and hear of the circumstances surrounding the conception of the child Jesus, and the reaction of Joseph. This mystery springs from the House of David, and so we lead into the Gospel by hearing of the promise that the Messiah would come from that line. The link between the First Reading and the Gospel is quite explicit today, since Matthew actually quotes Isaiah. Joseph, descendant of King David, is invited to take his place in the great story of God’s relationship with the Chosen people. There is great sense of a timeless mystery reaching its focal point, as that which was “promised long ago” (Second Reading) now takes flesh in the womb of Mary.
Details of all our Christmas services can be found here!
In many ways the readings this Sunday are simply a continuation of last week Isaiah gives us more details about the work of the Messiah, and Paul invites us to continue to be patient until the Lords Coming. What is slightly different is the voice of John the Baptist this week: last week in Matthew 3 he was proclaiming with utter confidence that someone is coming. Now, in Matthew 11, he asks Jesus from prison: Is it you? For us, as we listen to these scriptures, we are being offered something very particular the prophecies of Isaiah (and indeed the prophet John the Baptist) are pinned down firmly and securely in the person of Jesus, Son of Mary in fact, Jesus himself, in his reply to John says as much: I am the Messiah that Isaiah prophesied. Again we are invited to hold the images of the prophecies in our minds until Christmas, when we can look on the child in the manger and say We know who this is: it is the promised Messiah God who comes to save us!
Advent derives from the Latin adventus meaning ‘arrival’ or ‘approach’. For thousands of years the world waited for the coming of the Messiah to redeem and to save the human race, restoring mankind’s relationship to God.
We, too, experience this same longing for the coming of Christ. Spiritually, we long for the coming of Christ into our hearts as the Holy Spirit draws us into ever deepening relationship with Him; we also long for Christ in his Second Coming, when He will return physically to earth—as He promised—to restore all things to Himself.
It is a season of:
Prayerful penance, and
It looks to:
Salvation history of the past,
Our present redemption being accomplished.
The future coming of Christ.
Advent connects us spiritually with God’s whole plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.
Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on December 24th. Christmas begins December 25th at 1st Vespers (Evening Prayer) and continues until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
Advent is our liturgically built-in time of spiritual preparation for Christmas. If you want to get the most out of the Christmas season and fill up your soul with love for Christ, the best way to do that is to “let every heart prepare Him room” —and celebrating Advent is the Church’s way to do it!
The year of Saint Luke ends with a characteristic take on the feast of Christ the King: in Lukes gospel we are so familiar with seeing and hearing the voiceless, the rejected, those whom society puts in second place: how suitable, then, that on the feast of the King of all Creation we see him at his most vulnerable on the cross, with only an abrupt inscription to announce that he is the King. He is King because of the work he has done, which is described by Saint Paul in the Second Reading: all things [are] reconciled through him and for him when he made peace by his death on the cross. Next week, when we re-enter Advent and a new Liturgical Year, we will be thinking of the King who will come again: though he will come as his disciples saw him go at the Ascension, the marks of the cross will still be visible for all time, to remind us of the one who came to reunite all Creation, especially frail human creatures.
1000. PARISH MASS
We must be very careful that the real point of todays first reading is not washed away in genuine concerns over what one can and cannot say about the responsibilities of spouses. This is not, in fact, a recipe for the perfect wife, but an illustration, from one age, of the virtue of fully employing the talents God gives us. Some things are timeless, such as holding out a hand to the poor, while other talents shift and change. The point is that all of us are gifted in varying ways and degrees: none of us should begrudge anyone else their talents, for fear that we overlook our own. We work wisely and well, looking forward to the masters return, when we can hand over to him not just what he gave us, but also the fruits that our labours have gained.
1000. PARISH MASS
Remembrance Sunday calls us to do three things:
First, to give thanks for all those men and women who have laid down their lives in various conflicts, so that we may enjoy peace and security;
Secondly, to pray for peace with justice in our own time;
And thirdly – and this is a special call to us as Catholics – to pray for those who have died in war, often in terrible and violent circumstances and quite likely far from fully prepared to meet their Maker.
To give thanks for those who have fallen in the two World Wars and in subsequent conflicts – and to give thanks also for those now serving in the Armed Forces – comes to us quite naturally, above all at this time of the year.
ALL SAINTS CHURCH
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