Dec. 14 – He came to testify to the light

Title:Dec. 14 – He came to testify to the light

 Sunday, December 14, 2014 – Advent 3   (full size gallery)

A big weekend at St. Peter’s with the Port Royal Christmas Celebration, the Choir retreat, Singing Mary’s Song at 10am, Advent 3 at 11am and the Everett’s Christmas Party later in the day at 5pm.

The choir had a couple of hours  on Saturday of practice and then journeyed to Bowling Green for Roger and Eunice’s luncheon for the choir. They enjoyed lasagna, salad, bread, wine and Brad’s cheese cake. 

We had a smaller crowd of 33 at 11am on Sunday.  Before that we had the last session of Singing Mary’s Song where we analyzed the meaning  of the Magnificat and saw other illustrations of Mary in a Life Magazine and in two statues of Mary. The notes are here.

The 3rd Sunday in Advent is often called Rose Sunday, because it represents a lightening of the dark violet of the rest of the penitential season of Advent. This lightening has two points of significance. One is that of a greater light shining through the violet to reveal the rose tint signifying the coming of the Light, the other is a lightening of the mood, for which reason the Church has traditionally ascribed this Sunday to the quality of joy. The rose color expresses the joy of recognition, the recognition of the One who shines from beyond the veil of violet, who is the Messenger of the Light.

The sermon concentrated on the last stanza of Psalm 126."Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, Will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves. "

"This verse from Psalm 126 holds within it the entirety of the Christian life. Take a look at this scarf. This scarf has been knit in such a way that one side cannot be separated from the other.  This knitting together is also true of how sorrow and joys are knit together in the Christian life. These two things, joy and sorrow, cannot be separated in those of us who are trying to live faithfully, hopefully, and lovingly through our days, no matter what our days bring."

 "This verse tells us to move past the anger and rage,To own our sorrows,Sorrow knit together with joy—God’s sorrow as Jesus died on the cross, God’s joy at the resurrection.
 God’s continuing love and joy in us and hope for us, even as we continue to give in to anger and rage and to hurt those around us."

Birthday greetings were provided for Nancy, Cherry and Charles. With the Everett party coming up later in the day, she said that she needed everyone there to sing happy birthday to her. Nancy quipped that she had had over 100 celebrate her birhday on Friday, the same date as the Port Royal Christmas lighting

It was very evident St. Peter’s outreach work this Christmas in several communities. The Villlage Harvest is this week. Helmut read a letter from social services thankiing the church for sponsoring three families.  The ECW will be writing donation checks this Tuesday.

We ended the service with a jazz arrangement of "Soon and Very Soon" on sax and piano emphasizing the joy, the lighting peeking through the dark scriptures of the past two Sundays.

Later in the day many of us gathered at Woody and Cherry Everett’s home for their annual Christmas extravaganza.

Weekly commentary from Canon Lance Ousley, Diocese of Olympia

In this week’s Collect we pray, "Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen." To get a real sense of the deep stewardship connection in our readings this week, we might do well to interchange "our sins" with "our missing the mark" in the Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent.

Responsible stewardship really is our utilizing every resource we have in our midst for the establishment of God’s kingdom as described in these verses in Isaiah 61. The prophet paints a vision of what God’s kingdom looks like on earth. The best way to proclaim God’s kingdom come is to do the work that Isaiah describes here in these opening verses. This work isn’t always easy, but as stewards of the Gospel we are to carry it out both literally and metaphorically. This is the work of the Church as the Body of Christ, as we see this is the work that Jesus was doing in his earthly ministry and echoed in the psalm. So Isaiah begs the question of us, if we have been anointed by the Holy Spirit to do this work, which is part of our anointing at baptism, then how are we utilizing everything at our disposal to make the kingdom a reality? Part our good stewardship is to allow, or rather unleash, the Spirit we have received in the waters of our baptism to work through and in us each day.

Mary’s Magnificat found in the Canticle, reflects the restorative justice work into which we are called as an advocate for the poor, outcast and downtrodden. Some of this includes our own being brought down to earth (low) and sharing joyfully of our abundance of resources. Earlier today, I remembered my time outside Mexico City visiting a church in a barrio and experiencing "the poor" responding to the other poor in their community. In spite of their own poverty this church made Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians real in their lives. In the words of Mary, their "souls proclaimed the greatness of the Lord." The Magnificat could be read as harsh, but the voice of the Magnificat is not meant to be a haughty response of the demise of the "haves". Rather it is a stark call for us to be mindful of the resources we have that can feed the needs of those around us proclaiming justice with our actions. This is stewardship in action!

John’s Gospel account this week reminds us of the importance of putting Christ’s kingdom as the first priority in our lives. We are called to point to the light of Christ with our lives, not shine the light on ourselves. By sharing of our resources and giving of ourselves we "testify to the light." When we do otherwise and when we do not seek continually to proclaim God’s kingdom come through deed and word, we "miss the mark".

The world is pregnant with anticipation to experience God’s kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit stirred up in our lives and work.

What are you willing to do with all that you have and all that you are today and the next day to hit the mark?

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