It’s Advent (or will be this Sunday), and a responsible cleric would honor and embrace the unique graces of each season and would encourage her or his congregants to do the same. Somber clergy insist on keeping Advent, well…..Advent-y. Christmas doesn’t start until the 25th of December and is a season all to itself, they insist.

Oops. I’m afraid I’m already Christmas-ing. But I think I can do that in a uniquely Advent-ly way.

I may be in denial, but I think I’m able to observe the anticipatory and penitential character of Advent waiting while I concurrently rejoice in that waiting’s conclusion.

Of course, I would assert that my immersion in and profound enjoyment of the Christmas Spirit bears little or no resemblance to the touting of Christmas in the parallel universe of American consumerism. While the world around me declares excess and acquisition the appropriate garb of our entrance to winter as though the gloom in the world is lessened in direct proportion to the size of one’s high definition television screen, I am transfixed by the juxtaposition of light dispelling darkness. While well intentioned shoppers work to provide the children in their lives with the electronic and overstuffed gizmos they swear they can’t live without, I am inexplicably drawn to the complete sufficiency of the child who had no toys, no crib for his bed but who, in total poverty, provided eternal richness for all.

And, frankly, it’s okay with me that the dominant culture busies itself with shopping and glitz and visions of sugarplums. The world’s hunger for something special in the depth of winter is apparent, dressed in the only way the spiritually impoverished can muster – in tinsel and excess. The relative paucity of society’s Christmas observances aren’t wrong or un-religious or counterproductive. They are just…..less. Less than they might be if the world and it’s people took Jesus of Nazareth seriously and focused their Christmas excess on the least of his brothers and sisters; less than the lingering glow of gratitude of the heart that has embraced the invitation to step outside of self and into what we might call Manger Living; less than what we want but more than what we have.

And the Advent waiting, the longing, the looking to the future in hope – all of these can thrive side by side in my enjoyment of the season with the excitement of Divine Triumph that has entered the world in a most unusual and unexpected way. For the possibility still exists that God, through the hearts and hands and eyes and lives of the Body of Christ present in this world can redefine culture’s craving for abundance by giving witness to the wealth that is never exhausted, the glory whose brightness is never dimmed.

So, Joy to the world! And Come, O come Immanuel.

Taize Worship at St. Luke’s

This Sunday, December 2 at 6:30 pm, St. Luke’s will offer the first in a series of monthly worship services based on the model of the Taize Community in France. Simple song, sacred readings and silence mark this profound experienced of the Sacred. The service is open to the community as part of our missional outreach.

Our worship during Advent will be shaped to match the expectant nature of the season. In addition to the return of the Advent Wreath, this Sunday we will recite the Decalogue and move the Penitential Office to the beginning of our worship.

We will have a few new service songs for the Season of Advent as well. We will sing “There is a Light’ around the lighting of the Advent candles. We will not sing a Gloria or a Kyrie. Our new gradual anthem is “Come, Lord Jesus”.  We will also have a new Sanctus, it will be a familiar melody to many of you. You will find these seasonal songs on a card near the blue folders in your pew. Please be sure to tuck these cards back into the pews racks each Sunday before you leave, as we will use them each Sunday.

Have You Been Counted?

Your pledge to St. Luke’s for 2019 will enable us to plan realistically for our mission and ministry for the coming year. Please return your pledge card to the Church Office this week! If you haven’t received a pledge card in the mail, we’d be glad to send you one. Just call the church office at 503-665-9442.

Colors of the Season

Our seasons quicken our senses as much as they do our thoughts. As we enter into Advent, we will use a variety of colors to mark the season’s special character. Traditionally, purple is the color of the season – in ancient times, purple was a breathtakingly expensive dye, affordable only by royalty. The dye was harvested from sea urchins called murex,  each one containing only a single drop of the precious pigment. The color, for us, indicates the coming of royalty – the birth of the King of Kings. Three of the candles on our Advent wreath are purple.

But why, then, is the third candle pink?  The Third Sunday in Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday – literally, “Joy Sunday.” It is traditionally a time when the Advent fast is relieved and we celebrate the sheer joy of knowing that we are loved unconditionally by God.

But at St. Luke’s (as well as many other churches), our vestments are yet another Advent color – a deep blue known as Sarum Blue. The Sarum Rite of the Church extends back to 11th century Salisbury in Great Britain and  reflected the Celtic-Anglo-Saxon nature of British Christianity. The deep blue used in Advent in the Sarum tradition represents the color of the sky prior to daybreak that covers the earth. As Christmas is our dawning, Advent is then the time just before dawn when we await the emergence of the light.

Do you have an Advent Wreath at home?

So, you have Santa on your mantel and reindeer on your lawn, but do you have an Advent Wreath? It’s simple enough to make one — just take four candles and arrange them in a circle decorated with greens or ribbon or pine cones or holly. Three purple and one pink or four blue or four white — the color isn’t as important as the observance. Light one candle each week rejoice in the coming of the light.

Episcopal Visitation

The Rt. Rev. Michael Hanley, Bishop of Oregon, will make his visitation to St. Luke’s on Sunday, December 9. It will be a remarkable day for us – he will preside at the Eucharist and preach in addition to Confirming and Receiving, thus growing the church further! The children of the Ark will sing our Offertory Anthem.

After the service, Bishop Hanley will meet with the Vestry to discuss our ongoing ministry and the status of our Search Process.

Plan to be with us! Due to the size of the Diocese, the Bishop only visits once every three years, so this will be a special day in our life