From the Chaplain
Looking Forward to Christmas
Advent is my favourite liturgical season. As I reflect, I recognise that it contributed to a deepening of my adult faith formation. As a child, my family was always away at the beach shack for the summer weekends and Christmas holidays, they were idyllic holidays and the time seemed to last forever. One consequence was that we never went to church. When I was first married, I worked as a chef and my wife was a nurse. Later I became a school teacher. This time of year is ridiculously busy for these professions, almost punishingly so, requiring real stamina to survive the work and the celebrations.
And yet, at this crazy busy time, Advent for me became a time of highly engaged worship. Sunday morning was often the only time I had off at this time of year and it was spent with my family in church. My wife is a talented musician and at that time she was a dedicated church musician and passionate liturgist. We sang Advent themed hymns, learned a new mass thanksgiving music setting, often sang the confession and there was commitment to making the very most of the times of silence in the worship. The world of Christmas carols and exhausting shopping seemed a long way off. I was fortunate in that my colleagues wondered respectfully why I would choose church and worship with family as the only down time and relaxation that I might have in a week. I was blessed with curious questions from colleagues, and was not judged a fool or put down by expressing my faith in this way.
From this experience, long ago in my early adult life, I have come to believe that Advent is a wonderful antidote to the fatigue that both the busyness, and unrelenting ‘Father commercial Christmas’ culture that can comes over us at this time of year. I encountered this year, people who work in both the church and schools, who during the second week of November, that’s right even before the pageant, who were already feeling overwhelmed and jaded by the busyness that was ahead of them.
So, what is Advent all about and why do I think it is important to engage with Advent thinking in the lead up to Christmas? The truth is that Advent is about seemingly contradictory things. Advent is a season of expectation, preparation and waiting. As the church and Christians prepare to celebrate the coming adventus of Christ in his incarnation, Advent also looks ahead to his final advent as judge at the end of time. The bible readings and liturgical celebrations not only direct us towards Christ’s birth, they also challenge the modern reluctance to confront the themes of divine judgment.
On the one hand the themes of Love, Peace, Joy and Hope are explored over the four weeks. In times gone by the last four themes of Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell would have also been explored. I believe it is well worth all our whiles to challenge our pre-Christmas busyness with the reflective challenge and inspiration of Advent thinking. The world's busyness is certainly pointed towards Christmas but increasingly thinking and things of substance and enduring worth are being eroded by commercial and materialistic emphasis.
Advent offers a perspective on our lives that enhances the presence of God. It does confront us with the reality of our fragile and finite lives however we are continually assured of God’s merciful love, especially in times of struggle. Advent helps us to better see our lives as journey and while there are times when our lives feel a ‘bit rubbish’ or frustrating, overall our lives lived as a pilgrimage to and with God, is a life that is being forever enriched in ways that we perhaps do not always appreciate.
For example, the theme of waiting, praying, being patient, not always the most scintillating experiences and yet can be times when the most amazing things can happen. Often it is in waiting that we realise how much we love and are loved, a child is born after much waiting, someone is healed or arrives homes safe and sound after a time of waiting. When we wait, our own everyday distracting busyness becomes almost meaningless, that which clutters our mind has chance to fall away- as we wait. Peace gets a chance.
Our Advent times of waiting are times to be healed, to make things better, to make things complete and a time for renewal. Our life’s journey is rightly a pilgrimage marked with celebrations, dinner parties, important gatherings of family and friends. Our lives are also nourished by noticing the small, seemingly inconsequential events- birdsong, a stranger’s smile, sunrises, the distant sound of childish laughter- seemingly fleeting moments of delightful peace. That which is holy, breaks into our everyday.
I wish you a blessed and peace filled Christmas, preceded by a wondrous Advent.
May we know that there is no situation in our world, or in our own lives, that the birth of Christ cannot touch with wonder, beauty and transformation. Amen.
Magdalene Centre Christmas Hampers
The Pulteney Community has a strong tradition of helping the Magdalene Centre in the lead-up to Christmas. The Magdalene Centre is preparing to give away 500+ Christmas Hampers of food, toys and gifts to those in need. All donations are greatly appreciated. As we all know finding the right gift for a teenager is sometimes perplexing so if you have any gifts suitable for a teenager they will be especially welcomed. Please leave items in the chapel foyer.
Pulteney Christmas Services
Pulteney’s St Peter’s Cathedral Festive Carols Service will take place on Friday, December 8, beginning at 7:00 pm.
Pulteney Community’s Christmas Nativity Service, will be at 6:00 pm on Sunday, December 24, in the school Chapel.
Celebrate the Christmas story with all the family. Children can participate in the nativity play. All your favorite Christmas carols. A talented guest organist will put the beautiful chapel organ through its paces. Followed by refreshments- let’s celebrate together the Christmas season.
I can be contacted at any time, email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 8216 5512 / 0434 297 879 or contact the school office