Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Today we celebrate the beginning of a new Liturgical Year on the First Sunday of Advent. The word Advent means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival.’ It is a season of waiting, anticipation, longing, expectation and much more. If we use our time well in Advent we can make this a season of great meaning, rather than simply of shopping and listening to second rate recordings of Christmas songs in shopping centres.
What are some possibilities then for observing the Advent Season. You might like to choose from the list.
• Discussion & Study Group: Advent Bible Readings and Reflections. Thursday at 3pm on Zoom.
• ‘A Christmas Menu—An Advent Reflection: Booklets from Anglican Overseas Aid that are available today.
• Set up your own Advent wreath at home (see insert in the pewsheet) • ‘10 a Day’ - see details in the pewsheet.
• Giving to the ABM Advent and Christmas Appeal. Given Covid our Mission giving this year has taken a hit. This appeal offers opportunity to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be leaders with faith, vision and skills to help their communities through courses at Wontulp-Bi-Buya and Nungalinya Colleges, the Kanyan sustainable livelihoods program and the Integrated Gender project in Zambia. More details on the giing envelope and digital donation card available from today, or check out abmission.org.
Advent can offer us these and many other opportunities we nay have individually contemplated in drawing closer to this time. May they help us journey well as we prepare through these weeks for the greatest event in human history, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Today we celebrate the last Sunday of the Christian Liturgical Year and it is fitting that it directly relates to Jesus with the Feast of Christ the King or otherwise known as the reign of Christ. I say either/or as often the images in people’s minds of monarchical rule are easily out of sync with how the reign of Christ operates e.g. at Jesus trial before Pilate, he says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” What then does Christ’s reign mean?
Our first reading from the prophet Ezekiel today gives us a clue as to God’s intention. That his rule is like that of a shepherd King. A God who guides, leads and cares fully and completely for the flock in his care. A shepherd King provides for the flock, leads them to abundant and safe pastures; seeking out the lost and drawing back in those who stray, caring for the injured and bolstering weaknesses. A shepherd king who cares for all “no buts” and has the respect and devotion of those who follow.
Likewise our Gospel reading continues this imagery of a shepherd/servant leader. Yet clearly spelled out in this passage are the responsibilities of followers to emulate the servant leadership of Christ: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, providing for those who go without. How this is lived out can be wide and varied, depending on the context of the community at any given time.
Today as we celebrate Christ the King, we are reminded of our own calling through baptism to be God’s children and thereby co-inheritors of the Kingdom of God. We too can share in the many tasks of living and sharing in the life the gospel can bring to this world.
May you journey well with Christ this week. How might God be calling us to follow faithfully as sisters and brothers of Christ in the mission of the church in the world?
Rev Cannon Ian Howarth is the Rector of the Anglican Parish of St Paul's Kyneton and St John's Malmsbury and is the team leader of the Central Highlands Cluster.