Dear Parishioners and Friends,
I love Advent. I love its themes of hope and expectation, its call to stay awake and prepare. I love the vastness of the vision it holds out for our pondering- creation renewed and reconciled; justice, peace and mercy met together; and all flesh seeing God’s salvation. In this season I imagine our forebears, gathered together in the dark and cold around glowing firelight: singing and telling stories, dreaming and watching in the night. Advent stirs our hearts’ longings, from the deeply personal to our yearnings for the whole human family and our planet itself.
What are you yearning for this Advent? The news is full of violence and greed, environmental devastation and human cruelty. The demands of the holiday season often stir our personal griefs, losses and estrangements too. We pray, we work, and we hope for the coming anew of Emmanuel, God with us. We hope for the joy and wonder of Christmas, and the birth of love in our lives and our world.
What a gift it is to come together at Ascension in this beautiful but sometimes difficult season- to watch and prepare, to sing and pray, to keep Advent in community. And then, what a gift to welcome Christ among us. For Christ comes, whether we are ready or not, whether our shopping is done and our tree decorated, whether or not we are feeling the merriment of the season. Christ was born in a time of anxiety, oppression and danger, to a poor family far from home. Christ is born among us, tender and vulnerable, in a world in need of a Savior.
I do not know how the mystery happens, but by God’s grace, it does. The incarnate Word, God with us, is born anew, and dwells among us, loving us immeasurably and inviting us to love with all our hearts. Christmas comes once more.
Advent and Christmas are lovely at Ascension, and deeply meaningful as we worship, wait and celebrate together. At the end of this letter is a schedule of our services and special events of the season. I hope you will receive it as a gift for your soul and join us as you are able.
At this time of year, we have special expenses for the greens and flowers we use to make the church especially festive. If you would like to help with these costs, special envelopes are available at the back of the church or you may contact the church office. If you want to give your gift in memory of someone or in thanksgiving, please return it to the church office by Wednesday, December 19.
Blessings of this holy season,
The Rev. Elizabeth G. Maxwell
P.S. Christmas lasts for twelve days! Join us for congregational Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 30, and then for the Twelfth Night revels on Saturday, January 5 from 5-7:30. The, on Sunday, January 6, we celebrate the coming of the Magi on the Feast of the Epiphany. Bring your friends!