Blessings for the new Church year and a holy Advent!
As I have been reflecting on anticipation of this very different December, I have become aware that the sense of waiting and uncertainty and the hopes arising for a better future which are part of our daily news connect with the deep themes of the Advent season. These deep themes run through Advent miusic and readings and traditions - especially that of lighting the candles of the Advent Wreath to remember the stories of our ancestors in faith as they longed for change in their own generations. Over the next weeks I hope to explore these connections, so we can bring all that we are feeling, with honesty, into our life of faith and prayer. You might like to creat your own Advent wreath, or gather five candles to count down the weeks to Christmas day (or even just have one candle that you light each Sunday). Traditionally we remember Abraham and Sarah (the patriarchs and matriarchs) on Advent 1, the prophets on Advent 2, John the Baptist on Advent 3 and the blessed virgin Mary on the last Sunday of Advent.
In the last week the government has announced that communal worship will be allowed in churches, and we also know now that Devon is in Tier 2 with most of the rest of the country. The current response to this on the Church of England web site is as follows:
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, has welcomed the publication of the Government's Covid-19 Winter Plan, detailing that places of worship will be permitted to reopen for public worship from 2nd December.
Bishop Sarah, who Chairs the Church of England's Recovery Group, said: "We are encouraged by the confirmation that places of worship will soon be able to reopen for public worship in all tiers and in all parts of the country.
"Churches and cathedrals can now approach Advent and Christmas with more certainty; a time when we know many people will look forward to attending services celebrating the birth of Jesus.
"We await more detailed guidance and will update our own advice once this is published."
The plan in this diocese is that the Archdeacons will brief clergy on the updated advice on December 2nd and I will continue my conversations with Church Wardens and PCCs once I have recieved that full briefing.
The Archbishops' prayer for the nation this week is:
Loving God,your Son Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly;
pour out your blessing upon our nation;
where there is illness,
bring your healing touch;
where there is fear,
strengthen us with the knowledge of your presence;
where there is uncertainty,
build us up in faith;
where there is dishonesty,
lead us into truth;
where there is discord,
may we know the harmony of your love;
this we ask in Jesus’ name.
God bless, Samantha