Friday, November 30, 2018

English Congregation’s Calendar 2018-2019

Advent – Christmas – Epiphany Year C

December 2          Candle of Hope, A Prophet's Prayer of Hope

December 9          Candle of Peace, Shepherd's Behold a Great Light

December 16        Candle of Joy, Shepherds’ Lessons and Carols

December 23        Candle of Love, Waiting for our Savior’s Love

December 24       Combined English-Chinese
                             Christmas Eve Candle Light Service 8:00PM

December 25       English Christmas Service at 9:30AM
                             Father Barker

[Dec 26   Father Barker Departs for Home Leave]

December 30        First Sunday after Christmas
                                                                  Father Keith Lee, Rector, Celebrant
                              Scott Ellinger, Preacher, Our Seminarian   
[Epiphany Season 2019]
January 6              Epiphany, Second Sunday after Christmas
                                                                 David Puckett, MSM

January 13            First Sunday after Epiphany
                                                                 David Puckett, MSM

January 17            Second Sunday after Epiphany
                                                                 David Puckett, MSM

January 20            Second Sunday after Epiphany
                             David Puckett, MSM

January 27          Combined English-Chinese Service
                              The Rev. Keith Lee, Rector Good Shepherd
 February 3            Fourth Sunday after Epiphany                 
                              Alexander Salter, Lay Liturgist

 February 10        Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
                              Father Herbert Barker, English Chaplain

 February 17          Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
                               Father Herbert Barker

 February 24        Seventh Sunday after Epiphany
                              Combined English-Chinese Service
                              Father Lee and Father Barker

 March 3                Last Sunday after Epiphany

                              Father Barker

Advent’s Promises

Advent’s Promises
“Adventus” means coming.  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 hopein the promise that Jesus comes to save, and will come again to judge.  To our joy, we discover that in faith Christ’s love is our judgment and our salvation.

God is coming to be with us humans is a hope and a dread as old as our biblical history.  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 up our 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 despairing loneliness.  Separation!

While on one hand we fear Immanuel, “God with us”, as condemnation of our willfulness, on the other hand we fear, “God with us”, as a loss of freedom.  Immanuel exposes our freedom as bondage to self as solitary confinement that separates us from any contentment in fellowship with others and with God, 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.

That is what Advent brings!  Sound like good news?  God’s coming brings to us hope, peace, joy, and love! Thanks be to God for the manger where his promises are wrapped in bonds of rags and waves from within a manger. The baby’s name shall be called Immanuel, “with us is God!”During Advent, God comes from the future to be with us.    Get ready!  Watch out! God comes!  Yes?

A Conclusion

As a child I remember the thrill of hiding from my mother’s watchful eyes. 
Freed from her sentry, my brothers and I would run to the creek to dive naked into its warm splendid wetness.  We would splash and have water fights.  I would swing from a rope and fly to free fall into the open arms of sky and water.  

Oh, no!  I hit a tree buried in the creek’s soft bottom.  Bloodied, and full of fear, I sprang from the water running for home.  Running for mother!  My brother caught up with me and shook me.  “Are you an idiot?  You’re OK! It’s just a scratch!  Mother will punish us all for your ugly, bloody face!

I shouted in pain, and rage, and guilt, and disbelief, and hope.  “I’m going home!”  I ran as fast as I could.  Naked, bleeding, I threw my bloody body into my mother’s lap!  I looked up into the eyes of Immanuel, “God with us”, judgment and salvation.

Get ready.  Watch.  Wait.

O come, O come, Immanuel!  Amen!