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



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