Greetings. The holidays are upon us once again and we prepare ourselves for the Advent season. So much hussle and bustle with shopping, visiting friends and family, driving through traffic, etc. , can send us into an irritated mess. This irritation can cause us to become angry with Christmas and take us away from the real purpose and reason Christmas exists. It is all for the birth of our Lord who has rescued us from the craziness of the world. It is His birthday that we celebrate and honor. So while you are running around during this holiday season spend some time to take deep breaths and meditate on a child born to be a king and save this world from darkness. Merry Christmas and many blessings for the new year.
What is Advent? - by Fr. Craig Chapman
Advent is the beginning of the Church Year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (Dec 24). If Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas Eve proper beginning at sundown.
Historically, the primary sanctuary color of Advent in the Anglican Tradition is Royal Blue. This is the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King.
The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Scripture reading for Advent will reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life.
In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. That acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. So, as the church celebrates God’s inbreaking into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which “all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption,” it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Spirit of Advent
Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance!
It is that hope, however faint at times, and that God, however distant He sometimes seems, which brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth and justice and righteousness over His people and in His creation. It is that hope that once anticipated, and now anticipates anew, the reign of an Anointed One, a Messiah, who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world.
Part of the expectation also anticipates a judgment on sin and a calling of the world to accountability before God. We long for God to come and set the world right! Yet, as the prophet Amos warned, the expectation of a coming judgment at the “Day of the Lord” may not be the day of light that we might want, because the penetrating light of God’s judgment on sin will shine just as brightly on God’s people.
Because of this important truth, especially in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Season of Advent has been a time of fasting and penitence for sins similar to the Season of Lent. However, a different emphasis for the season of Advent has gradually unfolded in much of the rest of the church. The season of Advent has come to be celebrated more in terms of expectation or anticipation. Yet, the anticipation of the Coming of the Messiah throughout the Old Testament and Judaism was not in connection with remembrance of sins. Rather, it was in the context of oppression and injustice, the longing for redemption, not from personal guilt and sin but from the systemic evil of the world expressed in evil empires and tyrants. It is in that sense that all creation groans for its redemption as we witness the evil that so dominates our world (Rom 8:18-25).
Of course, there is the problem of longing for vindication from an evil world when we are contributors to that evil. This is the power of the images of Amos when he warns about longing for the “Day of the Lord” that will really be a day of darkness (Amos 5:18-20). Still, even with Amos’ warning the time of Advent is one of expectation and anticipation, a longing for God’s actions to restore all things and vindicate the righteous. This is why during Advent we as Christians also anticipate the Second Coming as a twin theme of the season. So, while some church traditions focus on penitence during Advent, and there remains a place for that, the spirit of that expectation from the Old Testament is better captured with a joyous sense of expectancy. Rather than a time of mourning and fasting, Advent is celebrated as a time of joy and happiness as we await the coming of the King.
There will be time enough during the rest of the journey through the Church Year to remember our sins. It begins in Epiphany when we hear about the brotherhood of the Kingdom, and realize our failure to effect it. Then as we move toward and through Lent we realize that the coming of Jesus served more to lay bare our own sin than it did to vindicate our righteousness. There will be time to shed Peter’s bitter tears as we realize that what started with such possibility and expectation has apparently ended in such failure.
It is only as we experience that full cycle, beginning with unbridled joy in Advent that slowly fades into the realization of what we have done with and to the Christ, that the awful reality of Good Friday can have its full impact. And in that realization we can finally be ready to hear the Good News on Resurrection Sunday! That is the journey that the disciples took. And so there is value in taking the same journey beginning with the anticipation and joy of Advent!
So, we celebrate with gladness the great promise in the Advent, yet knowing that there is also a somber tone as the theme of threat is added to the theme of promise. This is reflected in some of the Scripture readings for Advent, in which there is a strong prophetic tone of accountability and judgment on sin. But this is also faithful to the role of the Coming King who comes to rule, save, and judge the world.
Because of the dual themes of threat and promise, Advent is a time of preparation that is marked by prayer. While Lent is characterized by fasting and a spirit of penitence, Advent’s prayers are prayers of humble devotion and commitment, prayers of submission, prayers for deliverance, prayers from those walking in darkness who are awaiting and anticipating a great light (Isa 9)!
The spirit of Advent is expressed well in the parable of the bridesmaids who are anxiously awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom (Matt 25:1-13). There is profound joy at the Bridegroom’s expected coming. And yet a warning of the need for preparation echoes through the parable. But even then, the prayer of Advent is still:
Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel!
Newsflash from ABQ
Chapel of the Holy Spirit is building holy ground…
We started small, simple and loving. Six core members that created a safe and sacred place to worship for anyone. We gathered each Sunday, did pot lucks, spoke and listened to each other, attempted to built a community of prayer and welcome… Then we trusted good prayerful liturgy that embraced spirituality, prayer and Holy Spirit. With time we also worked out our bugs and came to a place that
allowed Spirit to grow… in us and around us… not focused on how big we might get but instead on how we could express welcome and love. WE also gave thanks for the gifts given to our small community. Amazing clergy that understood servant leadership (Mtr. Nancy, Rev. Jay and Rev. Aaron, awesome music provided by
Mtr. Nancy’s partner (Syble) and singing provided by my partner Scott. Each Sunday we felt the gift of Holy Spirit inviting us to gather and affirming our gathering. This last Sunday the Chapel was full and Christmas Eve our community will top off at approx 18. This is not a story about the 18 but this is a story of 6 people who went seeking a holy place and then became the holy place.
Gathering in Spring…
Time to start getting ready for our Spring gathering in Maine. Our community will be hosted by Good Sam and this will be an amazing time of prayer, worship, fellowship and love. Please make plans to join us in retreat and journey.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us. For I am convinced that
neither Death, nor Life, nor Angels, nor Rulers,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all
creation, will be able to separate us from the love
of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Ad-venting – by Father Steve Cannon English
Writing is something I enjoy doing and I’ve been told I’m pretty good at it. Writing on demand is another story. I can never think of anything to write, so I’ve waited for weeks for an idea.
When I was taking courses or in school, it was easy for me to write because I knew what was expected. I could write anything on any of the subjects I took. Preaching every week was also pretty easy. If I didn’t know what to preach about (the lectionary was my greatest friend) I always had websites to go to that gave me ideas. To write and not have a topic is harder but finally, some inspiration.
We are going to be in Advent before we know it. (It seems like it was Easter just last week) Advent is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the violet on the altar (I know many have changed to blue but I love the violet) . I love the greens used instead of flowers in wonderful and interesting arrangements. We have the Advent Calendar, the Advent Wreath, Advent Hymns and oh, what a wonderful time to stop, to wait, to study and to expect the coming of Christ and to examine ourselves to see if we are truly ready for the incarnation of our God in the person of that small baby named Jesus. Emmanuel, God with us.
I have a small statue of “El Nino Divino” (the Diving Child) on my desk. I keep it there to remind myself that God came to be with us, experiencing all that we experience. Jesus understands our every want, desire, emotion, pain, care, worry and need and uses our needs to bring us closer to Godself. God really does understand us. God “gets it”.
(There is a wonderful book, ” 12 Christian Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy–Relief from False Assumptions “by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend ,[Zondervan, 1994] that I highly recommend. It deals wonderfully with needs and the false things that we as clergy tell people about them–sorry about the form here but this is just an aside).
This is also the time of year I start getting very homesick for Puerto Rico. The day after Thanksgiving, the city of San Juan asked all of us who lived in Old San Juan to decorate our homes for the benefit of the tourists. We complied. There were nightly concerts, dance exhibitions and other activities in the Plazas of Old San Juan almost nightly through Advent. While Christmas has become more important to the people in Puerto Rico, it still doesn’t come close to Dia Tres Reyes (Three Kings Day) or Epiphany.
On Epiphany Eve, children leave boxes of grass in their living rooms for the Kings horses (it was the kings who brought presents to Jesus and it is the kings that bring presents to children). The next morning, the grass is gone and there are presents where the grass was. [There is also the story of a fourth king from the island of Boriqua, but that is another story] There was also the great gift give-away. The Governor of Puerto Rico (the party in power) give gifts on Epiphany to all of the children. A line stretching over 2 miles forms the night before and the morning of Epiphany and the children are given mostly age appropriate presents (scooters, bicycles, dolls–really nice toys). This was originally only for poor children but expanded through the years to be any child. I have heard that they are going to have gift give-aways in every municipality on the island so that everyone won’t have to go to Old San Juan any more and tie up traffic for the entire day.
Jerry & I still keep the PR method for the holidays. There are 12 days in Christmas–a season, not just a day, so we give each other small gifts on Christmas day and either give gifts throughout the 12 days or have a larger exchange on Epiphany. This is a more traditional celebration of the season of Christmastide and it also keeps us from going into debt as we used to. (Many of our friends don’t understand but just accept that our “Christmas Present” doesn’t arrive on Christmas day) By giving gifts throughout the season, especially on Epiphany, we are able to go to the sales after Christmas day and give each other nicer gifts than we would be able to afford. (Jerry & I will be together 26 years in February. Neither of us really “need” stuff any more and have no room in our house for more stuff so we are giving more to charity this year and buying clothing for each other–socks, t-shirts, underwear and sweaters–only things we actually need).
I have recommended this to everyone I know. It breaks my heart to see families who have little going into deep debt for one day when they could give more and pay less. The reason for the giving has often been lost in favor of giving lots to make ourselves look better to others instead of giving small things that are from the heart.
Now, I have shared my Christmastide/ Epiphany story with all of you and now, I will direct you back to Advent (see, little shopping to do during Advent, so everyone can focus on this season). Advent is truly a time to look with excitement to the incarnation. It is time to look within ourselves to see if we are prepared for the birth of our Salvation or if we want to work on something. Advent is a shadow of the second coming–the next advent. (am I ready?) Advent is a quiet time (I like to have a quiet day during Advent) of introspection, of sharing with friends and family and of waiting with excitement to welcome that child that changed the world—and changed each and every one of us for the better. Happy Advent Everybody!
The EACA would like to welcome Fr. Craig Chapman back into our family. Here is a short bio on Fr. Craig.
Graduated from The University of Michigan, Master Degree, Psychology/Religion 1983
Graduated from Bexley Hall Seminary, Master of Divinity 1987
Ordained Deacon, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan 1987
Ordained Priest, Episcopal Diocese of Ohio 1988
Served Episcopal Parish Churches in Ohio, Georgia and Michigan.
Incardinate EACA 1996,
Served as Priest in Charge All Saints Parish, under direction of Bishop Craig Bettendorf
All Saint Parish Moved to San Bueanventura CA 1997
The Parish is small, with 50 members, but we have been serving the GLBTQ community – its family and friends for the last 11 years.
My best friend – Greg Devlin – and I were married, June 23, 2008
At an earlier time in my life I was married and have two beautiful children, Andrea Robin, and Andrew Craig, who both live in Atlanta with their spouses.
Currently Greg and I live on an Avocado ranch in Fillmore, CA
MOTHER SUPERIOR CALLED ALL THE NUNS TOGETHER AND SAID TO THEM ‘I MUST TELL YOU ALL SOMETHING, WE HAVE A CASE OF GONORRHEA IN THE CONVENT’ THANK GOD, SAID AN ELDERLY NUN IN THE BACK, I’M SO TIRED OF CHARDONNAY!
May you all have a blessed Christmas and New Year.
EACA Newsletter – Issue 1
This is the first issue of the EACA newsletter. Please take time to browse through and give feedback if you would like. This newsletter will be a place that information for clergy and EACA members will be passed on to know what is going on around our community. If you have anything you would like to post in the newsletter please email Fr. Rob Irwin at email@example.com . God bless.
CONGRATULATIONS to our newly ordained Deacons
Rev. Aaron Munson and Rev. Jon Kitto
Clergy support groups
Contacting Bishop David: feel free to call Bishop David at any time at 207 751 5690, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
From Bishop David
I have been in this place before…the place of being forced, through physical limitations or illness to stay still…to be limited, to be frustrated in my desires to be active. I remember when we first moved to Maine some 20 years ago and I was between jobs in Boston and Maine, that I had time to just be; that I discovered that there was a David inside, a little David, too, that I had not spent much time with in recent years. I remember vividly the pancreatitis in 1995 and the ensuring surgeries and recovery for months, the times I wanted God to just take me, the times when I felt desperate to live, the importance of other’s visiting me, praying with me, and bring the Eucharist to me; but above all the growing awareness of God’s presence.
Crisis has a way of opening us to God, of teaching us things. There is a gift that comes with this time of recuperation (or can). Don’t get me wrong…following my surgery, I have been in pain, crabby and there have been some dark days. However, the gift is that when I am stripped of my roles, my busy-ness, there is more room for God. If I allow it.
Sometimes, we don’t realize how far we have grown away from God, or how much closer we desire to be to God until we are still and find that quiet place within, where we need God, and where we are renewed. The journey of being a Christian is one of returning to the well time and time again. The miracle of our faith is this renewal…this ability to return to God, to be forgiven, to know that we are loved unconditionally, regardless of how we might feel about ourselves, or how we perceive that others feel about us. It is from this unconditonal grace and love that we are empowered to be vessels of God’s love for the world. We are called to carry this love to the world; it desperately needs God and needs to know a God that loves, heals and renews.
In Isaiah we hear: “Listen to me….you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from whcih you were dug….Lift up your eyest to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath: for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and those who live on it will die like gnats: but my salvation will be forever, and my deliverance will never be ended.” (51:2, 5-6).
I invite you to join me in the appeal that we hear in Romans 12: I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (vs. 1-3). Let us all present ourselves to God, and to each other. Amen. Bishop David.
This Fall the Beacon Center (GLBT Community Center) and Deacon Jon (as clergy with the EACA) will sponsor a workshop, open to all entitled “Living Wills and Advance Directives…What You MUST know.” Attendees will have the opportunity to actually execute those documents at the workshop.
And finally, Jon has been nominated to the Board of Directors for The Indiana University Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Alumni Association. (an official group of Indiana University).
It is not how much we do, but how much love we
put into the doing. And it is not how much we give,
but how much love we put into the giving.
To God there is nothing small.” -Mother Theresa
Bishop Carmen Valenzuela
Bishop David Christopher Bellville
Bishop Rusty Smith
Bishop Craig Bettendorf
Presiding Bishop Emeritus
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