Well…I think winter is here to stay. I’ll bet I’m not the only one who has been doing some shoveling since Saturday.
Winter means Advent and, since Advent begins this coming Sunday, let’s get a few things straight in our minds – and in our liturgies.
But, before you read, let’s talk for a moment…Throughout the year, I present liturgical notes to you from our authorized Anglican texts. I realize that some of the things I write are not the usual practice “on the ground” in our church buildings and, in some cases, things quite different from our authorized texts are employed in our liturgies. But why is it so important to get things right in our liturgies? The liturgical greats over the decades…Alexander Schmemman, Aidan Kavanagh, Rowan Williams, and lesser known, newer on the scene fonts of knowledge like Simon Chan and Juan Oliver…will all tell you the same thing: Bad liturgy = bad theology = unhealthy churches. The opposite is, of course, true: our Anglican liturgies have been carefully put together to be transformational …they are dense with the theology that forms us as disciples of Christ (lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of what is prayed is the law of what is believed. In other words, we are what we pray). As Richard Giles has passed along from one of his mentors, well done liturgy “converts more people than many sermons” (p.25 of Here I Am Reflections on the Ordained Life). Liturgical greats may be referred to by some as liturgical grumps but, crucially, they point us to the knowledge and tools we need in order to experience the transformational power of our liturgies. Our liturgical calendar and authorized seasons then place these liturgies within the unfolding drama of God’s saving acts in our salvation history. Following our liturgical calendar thus shapes us according to the way of life in the kingdom of our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. So, without further ado…
Beginning Advent – The Advent Wreath: The Advent wreath is not meant to be the object of a little mini rite within our Sunday liturgical rite. The appropriate number of candles is to be lit before the service begins with no prayers, readings, or songs/hymns attached. Why is this? The Advent wreath was introduced to the Church as a means of encouraging the prayers and devotions of families in their homes, particularly at the evening meal together, throughout this penitential season of hopeful expectation. In the church building, the wreath is a visual reminder of the season and something on which to focus as we pray. All that we need to hear and know about each Sunday of Advent is already contained within our Sunday liturgy…in the prayers for the day, in the Prayers of the People, and in the songs/hymns we hear. Want to read this for yourself? Check out p.166 of the 2022 McCausland’s or, for a more detailed explanation, go to p.A34 here: https://www.anglican.ca/wp-content/uploads/OccasionalCelebrations.pdf
So what do the candles mean? They are simply marking the passage of the weeks – an Advent calendar minus the chocolates – as we await the return of the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. We humans just can’t seem to resist attaching greater meaning to things like this so, over the years, various traditions have developed to explain each candle. One is 1. the Patriarchs 2. the Prophets 3. John the Baptist and 4. the Virgin Mary. Another one is 1. Hope 2. Peace 3. Love 4. Joy. Still another one is to combine those first two together (for example, lighting the candle of Love for the Virgin Mary).
Why is one of the candles pink? As I mentioned, we love to assign meaning to things and so we have come to associate pink with the Virgin Mary (pink for girls?) 🙂 The pink candle, though, was simply the Roman Catholic Church’s way of giving people and clergy a break from the strain of the penitential season (they do this one Sunday in Lent as well). The Third Sunday of Advent, when we light the pink candle, is called “Gaudete Sunday” (it means “Rejoice”) and comes from the fact that the first word of the Introit for that Sunday is Gaudete (Gaudete in Domino semper, or “rejoice in the Lord always.”)
Beginning Advent – Prayers of the People: The Advent Litany for the Prayers of the People in our BAS (p.119) are a lot different than the other litanies. They are the ancient “O Antiphons” in use since the 700’s. They are called “O Antiphons” since they all begin with “O” ( O Wisdom, O Key of David, etc.). They are the refrains that were sung at the beginning and ending of the Magnificat during Evening Prayer and they are drenched in Scripture – especially the names and saving actions of our God. For this reason, they are integral to our understanding of Advent and, therefore, to our ongoing transformation into the likeness of Christ. How would you best use them during the liturgy? Since most of us pray the various cycles of prayer during our Prayers of the People, these cycles would be best inserted at the very beginning like the biddings in the BCP. For example:
Let us pray for the Church of God throughout the world especially…
Let us pray for the members of the Body of Christ in our diocese and in our parish family, holding before God…
And let us pray in joyful expectation to our Saviour and Redeemer saying…(from here you would continue the litany as written in the BAS).
Moving on to our Advent happenings:
Bishop Brian Germon is facilitating a morning of reflection as we enter into Advent. It is this Saturday, November 26th and the information/Zoom link is below:
Topic: Pre-Advent Quiet Day with Bishop Brian
Time: Nov 26, 2022 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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Meeting ID: 841 7744 6728
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Also, I am offering an online study of Isaiah each Wednesday evening beginning this Wednesday, November 23, 7-8pm. The Zoom link will be sent out closer to the time. Below is the information:
Come, Let Your Lights Shine
Advent Reflection and Learning
Wed. Nov.23, 30, Dec.7 & 14
7pm – 8pm
What are we waiting for during Advent? What will happen when Jesus does come again? What do we do in the meantime? Come, rekindle your hope and joy as we explore these questions and more with the Prophet Isaiah.
Discussions will be led by The Rev. Susan Montague Koyle. There is also an in-person option at St. George’s in Echo Bay on Fridays at 7pm beginning Nov.25.
And finally, one last event to tell you about (that I know of, anyway):
Christmas Luncheon and Bake Table at Emmaus: The luncheon will take place on December 10 th from 11:30 to 1:30. They are serving a sit down lunch of meat pies, coleslaw, gravy, dessert and tea and coffee. The tickets are $14. To purchase tickets you may call Edie at 705-759-2850 or the church office at 705-759-2545.
Wow…I nearly forgot the usual calendar observances (just one this week)…
For Your Devotions:
Wednesday, November 23rd is the commemoration of Clement of Rome who died around 100 AD. Okay, I know I’m a “Church Geek” but, I find it really exciting to know I can read what was written by someone who almost certainly met Paul in Rome and probably even heard him preach! Clement’s letter to the Corinthians (yes, those wayward Corinthians again) spelled out the church hierarchy and apostolic succession (that the bishops succeeded the apostles…i.e. taught what the apostles taught). Tradition has it that Clement was martyred by being tied to an anchor and then thrown into the sea. For more info, check this out: https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1-300/clement-of-rome-11629592.html
In the hope of the coming King,