Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent, 10:30am service

“The night is far spent”

For centuries upon centuries upon centuries the Gospel story read on the First Sunday in Advent was from the 21st chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel ending with “this is Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” In the 16th century, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the principle architect of The Book of Common Prayer, added to the reading the scene that follows in Matthew’s Gospel, the scene of Christ’s cleansing of the Temple. It makes for a most compelling beginning to the Advent season.

We are presented with a wonderful contrast between the joy and delight of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem and the disturbing encounter with what he finds in the heart of the holy city, in the Temple. The spiritual lesson is very clear. It is about light and darkness, the light of Christ’s coming, on the one hand, the darkness of our hearts and souls, on the other hand. We are called to be the temples of the God’s Holy Spirit; instead, we are the thieves of his grace and mercy, preoccupied with our own affairs and neglectful of the things and places of God. Christ comes as the light that shines in the darkness and “the darkness overcame it not.” In other words, the light is greater than the darkness, the power of the good greater than the folly of evil.

This does not lessen the reality of sin and evil. Christ’s advent is divine judgment. His coming is the grace that restores us to what we are called to be. It means that the darkness within each of us, the darkness of sin and evil, has to be named and overcome, just like the “over[throwing] of the tables of the money-changers and the seats of them that sold doves.”

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Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent, 8:00am service

“The night is far spent”

For a millennium or more the Gospel story on the First Sunday in Advent was a reading from the 21st chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel ending with “this is Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” In the 16th century, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the principle architect of The Book of Common Prayer, added to the reading the scene that follows in Matthew’s Gospel, Christ’s cleansing of the Temple. It makes for a most compelling beginning to the Advent season.

We are presented with a wonderful contrast between the joy and delight of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem and the disturbing encounter with what he finds in the heart of the holy city, in the Temple. The spiritual lesson is very clear. It is about light and darkness, the light of Christ’s coming, on the one hand, the darkness of our hearts and souls, on the other hand. We are called to be the temples of the God’s Holy Spirit; instead we are the thieves of his grace and mercy, preoccupied in our own affairs and neglectful of the things and places of God. Christ comes as the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness overcame it not. In other words, the light is greater than the darkness, the power of the good greater than the folly of evil.

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Week at a Glance, 28 November – 4 December

Monday, November 28th
4:45-5:15pm World Religions/Inquirers’ Class, Room 204, King’s-Edgehill School

Tuesday, November 29th, Eve of St. Andrew
6:00pm ‘Prayers & Praises’ – Haliburton Place
7:00pm Holy Communion

Thursday, December 1st
1:30-3:00pm Seniors’ Drop-In
6:30-7:30pm Brownies’ Mtg. – Parish Hall

Sunday, December 4th, Second Sunday in Advent
8:00am Holy Communion (followed by Men’s Club Breakfast)
9:30am Holy Communion at KES
10:30am Holy Communion
4:00pm Advent Service of Lessons & Carols with KES – Christ Church (Gr. 7-11)
7:00pm Advent Service of Lessons & Carols – Hensley Memorial Chapel, KES (Gr. 12)

Upcoming Events:

Tuesday, December 6th
7:00pm Holy Communion followed by a talk: “Praying the Psalms with St. Augustine in Advent”

Sunday, December 18th
7:30pm A Concert for Christmas featuring Paula Rockwell and others

The First Sunday in Advent

The collect for today, the First Sunday in Advent, being the Fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and ever. Amen.

The Epistle: Romans 13:8-14
The Gospel: St Matthew 21:1-13

Giotto, Entry into JerusalemArtwork: Giotto, Entry Into Jerusalem, 1304-06. Fresco, Cappella Scrovegni, Padua.

Catherine, Virgin and Martyr

School of Spinello, St. CatherineThe collect for a virgin or matron, on the Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria (4th century?), Virgin and Martyr, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):

O GOD Most High, the creator of all mankind, we bless thy holy Name for the virtue and grace which thou hast given unto holy women in all ages, especially thy servant Catherine; and we pray that the example of her faith and purity, and courage unto death, may inspire many souls in this generation to look unto thee, and to follow thy blessed Son Jesus Christ our Saviour; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Lesson: Acts 9:36-42
The Gospel: St Luke 10:38-42

Click here to read more about Saint Catherine.

Artwork: School of Spinello Aretino, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 14th-century fresco, Basilica di San Domenico, Arezzo. Photograph taken by admin, 27 May 2010.