Thursday, November 2, 2017

English Congregation’s Calendar 2017-2018

Advent – Christmas – Epiphany Year B

December 03       Candle of Hope, Isaiah 64:1-9
           O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
          so that the mountains would quake at your presence--

December 10      Candle of Peace, Isaiah 40:1-1                                  

                           He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
                               and carry them in his bosom,
                        and gently lead the mother sheep.


December 17           Candle of Joy,  Lessons and Carols

                                  Canticle 15    The Song of Mary Magnificat

                                Luke 1:46-55
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
  my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; * 


December 24      Candle of Love, Luke 1:26-38
                           [Mary] “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 
                                    Greetings, my favored sons and daughters of earth!
                                    The Lord is with Us!  Amen. [HJB]


December 24      Combined English and Chinese Christmas Eve   
                            Candle Light Service 8PM

December 25   English Christmas Service at 9:30 AM

Dec 31              First Sunday after Christmas

January 7         First Sunday after Epiphany
                          
January 14         Second Sunday after Epiphany

January 21         Third Sunday after Epiphany

January 28         Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
                          
February 4          Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
                          
February 11         Last Sunday after Epiphany        

 Promises of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany

“Adventus” means coming.  We, Christians believe that Advent is not only the beginning of the liturgical year; we also believe that it is the beginning and the end of our spiritual posture before God.  Advent sets us on our way to hope in the promise that Jesus came to save, and will come again to judge.  To our joy, we discover that in faith Christ’s judgment is our salvation.

God is coming to be with us is a message as old as human existence as told in the Bible.  In Genesis 3:8, we read, “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”

Awareness of God’s presence is not a welcome realization!  It seems that Adam and Eve’s response to “God with us” was to hide.  I suppose that we share their dread, because we have been hiding from God since the beginning of our own awaking that God is with us.  We sing, “O come, O come, Emmanuel”, yet, our hearts whisper, “not yet, not now”! Quick, cover this shame!

We fear God’s judgment of our limitless cravings that bend us to mere self-satisfactions.    Yet, like a child whose bravery insists that she is able to stand and to run own her own, quickly loses her courage when she discovers she has run too far, and run out of sight of Mom and Dad.  She discovers that she has lost the arms of security and found the embrace of despair.

We fear Immanuel, “God with us”, as condemnation of our willfulness.  “God with us”, seems to us a loss of freedom.  Immanuel exposes our freedom as bondage to self as solitary confinement that separates us from others and from “The OTHER”.

We are filled with dreadful discontent that exposes our broken sacred image of God.  He is coming.  We wait. 

He arrives with healing in His wings!  He is born that we no more may die.  He gives us second birth.  Our image is reclaimed and restored in His coming.  Hark!  The angels sing!

That is what Advent brings!   God’s coming brings to us hope, peace, joy, and love!  Thanks be to God for the manger where his promises are fulfilled.  The babe’s name shall be called Immanuel, “with us is God!” During Advent, God comes from the future to be with us.    “Christ has died.  Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”  We follow, enlightened by The Light of the World, Christ our Lord.

Amen.


A Farewell Christmas Wish for all of you:

      I wish you all a joyful Christmas and New Year! 
May God’s gift of Love made manifest in His Son Jesus Christ shine in your hearts always.

      I will be departing Christmas evening for my home in Arizona to share Christmas with Elizabeth, my wife, and with my son, Kenneth.  I’ll be home in time for Christmas dinner!

      Thanks to all of you for sharing in our  Koinonia  ministry at the Church of the Good Shepherd.  Thank you too for your love and support of me as I “stand and wait” serving beyond 51 years in higher callings without endings.

Love and prayers,

Father Herbert



Monday, June 12, 2017

Sundays after the Day of Pentecost June 11 through November 26, 2017

English Congregation Supply for Chaplain’s Vacation

July 9      Steven Schaufele Preach 
Father Keith Lee Celebrate

July  16   Sarah Lakkis   Preach  
Father Keith Lee    Celebrate

July 23  The Rev. Keith Lee Celebrate & Preach

July 30    Sarah Lakkis  Preach   
Father  Keith Celebrate

Aug 6    Father Keith Lee  Preach and Celebrate

Aug  13  Father Keith  Lee      Celebrate & Preach

August 20  Father Barker Return from Home Leave

November 26  Christ the King  (last Sunday after Pentecost

WHAT IS PENTECOST?

Pentecost is the great festival that marks the birth of the Christian church by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost means "fiftieth day" and is celebrated fifty days after Easter.

Ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven, the twelve apostles, Jesus' mother and family, and many other of His disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for the Jewish harvest festival that was celebrated on the fiftieth day of Passover.  While they were indoors praying, a sound like that of a rushing wind filled the house and tongues of fire descended and rested over each of their heads.  This was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on human flesh promised by God through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29).  The disciples were suddenly empowered to proclaim the gospel of the risen Christ.  They went out into the streets of Jerusalem and began preaching to the crowds gathered for the festival.  Not only did the disciples preach with boldness and vigor, but by a miracle of the Holy Spirit they spoke in the native languages of the people present, many who had come from all corners of the Roman Empire.  This created a sensation.  The apostle Peter seized the moment and addressed the crowd, preaching to them about Jesus' death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.  The result was that about three thousand converts were baptized that day.  (You can read the Biblical account of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-41).


Red is the liturgical color for this day.  Red recalls the tongues of flame in which the Holy Spirit descended on the first Pentecost.  The color red also reminds us of the blood of the martyrs.  These are the believers of every generation who by the power of the Holy Spirit hold firm to the true faith even at the cost of their lives.
WHY IS PENTECOST SOMETIMES CALLED "WHITSUNDAY"?
A tradition of some churches in ancient times was to baptize adult converts to the faith on Pentecost.  The newly baptized catechumens would wear white robes on that day, so Pentecost was often called "Whitsunday" or "White Sunday" after these white baptismal garments.  Many Christian calendars, liturgies, and hymnals (particularly those from the Episcopal/Anglican tradition) still use this term.


Confirmation Sunday is the day when young people who have been instructed in basic Christian doctrine confess their faith in the presence of the church.  The key to understanding confirmation is to recognize that the faith the confirmands confess is not of their own making; it is the gift of God that He gives through His means of grace.  The Holy Spirit who empowered the disciples to preach the risen Christ two thousand years ago is the same Spirit who empowers the confirmands to make their confession.  This is why many churches celebrate the rite of confirmation on Pentecost.


Because Pentecost is the day that God poured out His Holy Spirit on Christ's disciples, the Season after Pentecost is centered on sanctification, the work of the Holy Spirit in the day to day life of the Christian.  This is reflected in the liturgical color for this season:  green, the color of life and growth.  Through the gift of faith that comes only from the Holy Spirit, Christians are enabled to trust in Christ and proclaim Him in their daily lives by service to their neighbors.  The season after Pentecost is the longest season of the church year -- it lasts from Trinity Sunday until the first Sunday of Advent.  This is the non-festival portion of the liturgical calendar during which the church stresses its common life and lifts up discipleship, vocation, evangelism, missions, stewardship, almsgiving, and other works of mercy and charity as ways in which Christ empowers us by His grace to share the Gospel with others.  

WHY DO WE CELEBRATE PENTECOST?

There are three "mega-festivals" commemorated in the Christian calendar.  The first two, Christmas and Easter, are well known to both believers and non-believers.  But it's possible that even liturgical Christians may not be as familiar with the third, the festival of Pentecost.  God the Father's wonderful Christmas gift of His one and only Son, and Christ's Easter triumph over the power of sin, death, and the devil would be of no benefit to us if the Holy Spirit did not give us the gift of saving faith.  Through the Word and Sacraments, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to believe and trust in Christ as our Savior.  This precious gift of faith in the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ is the reason Pentecost is the third "mega-festival" of the church and why we celebrate it with such joy and thanksgiving.

Therefore, let us rejoice in the Holy Spirit that has been poured out on all people that we may live as one with God the Father, and with God the Son.  The Holy Spirit binds us to one another and to God’s everlasting love.  The Holy Spirit sustains us daily as God’s eternal Love and Grace.
Amen.