Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Rector's Message

Previous messages

Learning The Liturgy - BCP

Learning The Liturgy - BAS

Question of the Week

 

Advent and Christmas Letter

2013

 

O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel ...

 

As we journey through this season of Advent and into the joys of Christmastide (the 12 Days that stretch from Christmas Day to Epiphany 06 January), there is so much hustle and bustle, so many pressures to make the season jolly and more memorable than past celebrations, that it is easy to bypass, or even forget, what is the true significance of Advent and Christmas.

 

Advent is a season of preparation, not for gifts under the tree and huge family dinners, but a preparation of our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus, our Saviour.  We tend to focus on the arrival of Jesus as a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger and the gifts given him by three Wise Men.  While these are, of course, the Scripture we steep ourselves in during the Christmas season, they are really pointers, like the Star, directing us to pay attention to what has really happened, what is really happening ...

 

In the birth of Jesus, the baby, the Christ wrapped not in swaddling clothes but in humanity, we have been given the tremendous gift of knowing that we are loved by God so completely that God made Himself one of us that we might better come to know Him, love Him and enter into relationship with Him. That tremendous and self-giving love is the greatest and most glorious gift that humanity can ever receive.

 

God among us, Jesus our Saviour, born to bring us the love that sets all hearts free, is indeed Emmanuel who ransomed captive Israel, as the beautiful Advent hymn reminds us so poignantly. All of us have times in our lives when we feel bound and constrained by work, worry, family, relationships, things that pull our thoughts away from God and onto ourselves and the world.  It is at those times that we must choose to enter into a personal season of Advent: a season in which we intentionally prepare our hearts and minds, and our whole lives, for the indwelling of God's love in Jesus, His Son, into our very lives.

 

Jesus, Emmanuel, did come to ransom captive Israel.  The question to be answered is: who is Israel?  We are.  Jesus is ready to enter into our Advent journeys with us and to bring us our own experience of Christmas. When we ask him to come into our hearts, we are really inviting him to be born anew into the manger that is our lives, our homes, our relationships.

 

As you walk along this Advent path and into the celebration and joy of Christmastide, you are invited by God to walk with those who are on the path beside you.  As Christians we recognize that we cannot worship, grow, encounter God in solitude alone. While there are glorious times when we feel God's presence in the silence and peace of being alone, we are still called to walk this path with other faithful and inquiring people.

 

Please join us at St. James, Armdale as we travel this journey together.  We are being ransomed and with that release comes cause for celebration.  Let us celebrate together!  Join us in prayer and worship this Advent and Christmas and Epiphany-tide and ...

 

God bless you and all whom you love and pray for in this time of great celebration and hope!

 

Rachael Parker+

Rector - St. James Anglican Church, Armdale (Halifax)