Newsletter- 1st Week of Advent
Christmas Hampers for our two local charities: Firstly, to thank all who have generously donated money and hamper items over the past few weeks. Hampers will be packed on Saturday 9th December; any last food donations need to be made please by this Friday 8th December. To those who have kindly agreed to assist with the packing of hampers could you meet please in church at 11 am on Saturday 9th December. Ewa and Jennie will be helping to organise the packing practicalities with you! I am afraid I shall be celebrating Mass at HMP Whatton that morning followed by a House Blessing. I know from last year this will be done very well without me!
Thursday 7th December Change of Time for Mass: I have been invited by the Anglican Cathedral of The Blessed Virgin Mary (Southwell Minster) to lead the lunchtime Advent Meditation at 12.30 in their Retreat House (Sacrista Prebend) across the road from the Minster. This means that Mass in our parish will be celebrated by me that day at 9.30 am.
This weekend 2nd/3rd December we begin the Season of Advent with the First Sunday in Advent. Advent can come as a surprise to us all at this busy time of year. It’s not unlike the surprise of Mary when she received news that she was pregnant with Jesus. Like her, we should try to take some time during the season of Advent as a time to pause and to reflect, and in preparation for the gift of God’s love coming amongst us at the birth of the Christ Child at Christmas.
The word Advent in Latin, ad-venio, means “to come to.” This special time in the Church’s Year, is a period of renewal for us all as we “come to” and seek to focus more fully our hearts and our lives upon Christ. Like a Lenten period of fasting and sacrifice, during Advent we are called to dedicate this time to readying ourselves for Christ’s coming at Christmas. We are called to be attentive to the message of repentance and to the end times. This may seem unexpected considering the extravagant ways we eat, shop, celebrate, and rejoice as Christmas approaches!
The four weeks of Advent are popularly considered to symbolise though the four thousand years of darkness before the coming of Christ. We set up Nativity scenes, light Advent candles, and decorate wreaths in our homes and churches to signify Christ’s presence coming in the darkness of sin and suffering. Four candles adorn our Advent wreath in church, one for each week. A fifth candle is placed in the centre for the beginning of the Christmas season.
The Advent colours of violet or purple are worn by the priests and deacons at Mass during this season. These colours are represented in the candles that surround the Advent wreath: Violet: royalty, repentance, and fasting (First, Second, and Fourth Week of Advent)
Rose: abundant joy (Third Week of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday, joy or to rejoice in Latin) White: light and purity (the Christ Candle, the centre candle on our Advent wreath completes the season and begins to new season of Christmas)
During Advent, there are three prevalent themes we experience as we wait patiently for the coming of Christ. We long for the Messiah, are urged to be alert for Jesus’ Second Coming, and we meditate on Christ’s presence in our lives in the here and now.
As we begin Advent together again this year let’s try to consider how we can grow spiritually during such a busy commercial season evolving around us. We need to take a little time for silence and reflection each day with Scripture, or some extra devotional prayer. Maybe when you are passing the church pop in and take ten minutes or so just to be still, pray, pause and reflect. Maybe buy a copy of Walk with Me (found in the entrance of church) to help you reflect upon the daily Scripture Readings during Advent. Maybe too you might like to dwell with the scene of the Nativity. Think perhaps about the journey of Mary and Joseph, imagine being with them as they bring Jesus into the world. A prayerful journey with the Holy Family and with the Church throughout Advent will lead to gifts of gratitude and real joy for each one of us when we come at last to celebrate Christmas together!
Christmas Liturgies: Please note the times of the Christmas Liturgies and the Mass schedule during the two weeks after Christmas. They are published in the Bulletin from this weekend and as Christmas Day falls this year on a Monday your will see several changes to our normal weekly Masses.
Christmas Crib Offerings: Christmas time recalls the needs of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. Many parishes across the country adopt Friends of the Holy Land as the beneficiary of their crib collections. This year as in previous years since I have been your parish priest, we shall do the same here at St. Mary’s. FHL help the most deprived families, especially those living around Bethlehem, in Gaza, Israel and Jordan. The current war in this region is a real and terrible threat to many communities in the Holy Land. FHL seek to meet the practical emergency needs of the peoples living in this region, and all donations received by them will help invest in the community’s future after the conflict. FHL remains the only registered UK Charity with its own office, staff andvolunteers in the City of Christ’s birth. From Christmas Day and until the end of the Christmas season there will be a basket to collect your offerings placed before the Crib in church. All donations given will be sent directly to FHL to help support their important aid work.
Admission to the Guild of St Stephen: On Boxing Day- Feast of St Stephen – Monday 26th December I will celebrate Mass at 11 am. I anticipate admitting our new servers into the Guild of St Stephen during Mass that morning. We shall do this in a simple ceremony towards the end of Mass. We are greatly blessed in our parish with a good number of servers who come each weekend to serve at the altar and in the week now as well and I am very grateful to them for offering their time and talents for this important ministry in our parish. Please do come to this special Mass and support them if your time will allow and as we welcome our new servers into the Guild of St Stephen.
I pray that this Advent each of us may draw closer to Christ and all that He may be calling us to be in him.
With my continued prayers for you and for your families,
Your parish priest and friend,
2023 3rd December – Newsletter – Download