Advent Expectations at St. Matthew’s
December 14, 2015 – Advent III
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:4-7
Whenever I write and prepare a sermon, there’s always lots of material that is left out. I learned a long time ago that brevity is the better part of valour when it comes to preaching. Still, sometimes the power of a given story is in the details, and it’s hard to resist the temptation to get into that kind of minutiae. An example was yesterday. The theme of third Sunday in Advent is commonly “joy” with all the readings pointing to a celebration while still in the midst of waiting that is the season of Advent. All of the stories we heard yesterday represented joy in a certain form, and yet they still embodied Advent in some way, rather than stampeding off to Christmas.
While I included Paul’s letter to the Philippians in the readings, I didn’t touch it at all in the sermon. “Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I will say, Rejoice!” It really seems to be an overly happy phrase that ignores the fickle realities of life. If there was a passage that seemed to stampede to Christmas while ignoring Advent, it would seem that Paul’s letter would be it. Yet as I asked Wayne to mention on Sunday, even though I wouldn’t be preaching on it, that Paul wrote this while he was in prison! If anything, Paul’s letter is an embodiment of Advent. It expresses hope, peace, and joy, even in the midst of dark circumstances with an uncertain future. Paul doesn’t deny his present circumstances by any stretch, but he does look beyond it. So allowing ourselves a moment of joy in darkness isn’t a denial, but rather, an encouragement to persevere.
During the season of Advent and beyond, I will be sending weekly emails and reflections. You may also check out our website at http://www.st-matthews-uc.org for recent sermons, updates, and reflections.
Yours in Christ,
Events to Remember:
- Sunday, December 20th, 4th Sunday in Advent – Choir Service
- This year, David Ferguson and the choir will be putting on a special service filled with Christmas-themed music. We have invited some students from the Amici Strings who will share their talents along with the choir!
- Early Service 7pm. Featuring “Would it Still Be Christmas” which will have an opportunity for all children who come to dress up and participate in the Christmas Story. There will also be several musical offerings from our choir, a sermon in poetic verse, and as a first for this year, hot chocolate in the lobby/narthex area following the service!
- Late Night Communion 11pm. For a quieter more meditative service, featuring the lovely voice of Laura Brandt, wife of our Organist/Pianist Evan Mounce.
Christmas Office Hours
- The Office will be closed from December 25th to 29th, and January 1st.