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Advent Expectations IV – Love

And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.John 1:5

I love how yesterday’s choir service turned out. I had a number of people complementing me on the service, to which I was responded that credit belongs with David Ferguson, the choir, the Amici Strings and our guest soloists. My role was to frame the presentation of Vivaldi’s Gloria in the context of worship, which wasn’t all that hard given that the Gloria was originally written expressly for that purpose! As mentioned in the “liner notes” in the service, the “Gloria” is a part of worship that celebrates God’s forgiveness. Normally it is said or sung immediately after a prayer of confession and an assurance that God has forgiven them in Jesus Christ. The words that Vivaldi set to music comes from a Latin order of service that may date back as far as the 4th Century. It is said that Antonio Vivaldi was an ordained Roman Catholic priest early in his career, so his affiliation for sacred music was entirely appropriate. In fact, the Gloria took what is normally a small piece of “incidental” music or a prayer, and slowly meditates on it line by line.

Vivaldi’s treatment of the Gloria prayer is in keeping with Benedictine-style spirituality, where one reads a text, meditates on it, prays using the words of said text, and then  spends time contemplating it. In this case, Vivaldi meditates and contemplates it using the means that best suited to who he was: music. In the New Year, I’d like to introduce some different approaches to deepening one’s spirituality. I think reflecting on Vivaldi’s own approach is an early taste of that. No, I’m not expecting you to suddenly be writing arias or sacred music forms, but rather finding a way to deepen your own spirituality using some tools that you already have, but don’t realize it.

In the meantime, as Advent draws to a close, and Christmas comes, take time to reflect on the gift of the season, and where you see and experience God’s light and love in the darkness. Our Christmas Eve services are both excellent opportunities for that. The early service at 7pm features the choir with several offerings, along with my yearly rhyming sermon for Christmas eve. The late service is more quiet and contemplative, closing with communion. I will be emailing the bulletins for both services out later this week.

Lastly, as a reminder, Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. The Board has elected to not hold a worship service on Sunday morning so as to not disrupt your own traditions that day. We will be having a service on New Year’s Day, with the Rev. Clint Mooney preaching. I will be on vacation from December 25th to January 1st inclusive, so my next missive to you will be in the New Year.

Let me take this opportunity to wish all of you all God’s blessings this Christmas, and all the best in 2017.

Yours in Christ,

John

 

Upcoming Events

  • Christmas Eve Worship Services
    • We are holding two worship services on Christmas Eve. The first is at 7pm, and will feature several anthems from the choir, as well as an opportunity for the Children who are present to participate in a short come-as-you-are telling of the Christmas story. The second service, at 11pm, is a quieter candlelight communion.
  • Congregational Membership Classes
    • If you or someone you know would like to formalize membership with St. Matthew’s, I am hoping to run a membership class in the next few months. If you are interested, please email me, call me at the church, or speak with me directly on Sunday mornings.

Church Office Hours

  • This week, Wendy’s regular office hours are Mondays, 11am-3pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday from 9am-3pm.
  • Next week, Wendy will be only be in the office on Friday, December 30th from 9:00am to 11:00am to handle the year-end deposits.
  • My regular office hours during the day are Sunday through Thursdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Pastoral care visits and community meetings sometimes require that I be out of the office from time to time during those hours.
  • Next week, I will be on vacation, and will return to the office the following week.

 

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