4th Sunday of Advent – 22nd December 2013

No doubt, by now, most of you will have decorated your Christmas tree, or you will have seen those belonging to family and friends – but are you aware that many if not all, decorations, have a meaning?

The True Story of the Candy Cane

A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness,

so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols

for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of

pure white, hard candy: white to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless

nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the Foundation of the

Church and firmness of the promises of God.

The candy maker made the candy in the form of a “J” to represent the precious
name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. It could also represent the 
staff of the Good Shepherd with which He reaches down into the ditches of the 
world to lift out the fallen lambs who like all sheep have gone astray. Thinking 
that the candy was somewhat plain, the candy maker stained it with red stripes.
He used three small stripes for the blood shed by Christ on the cross. So that
we could have the promise of eternal life.

Unfortunately, the candy became known as the Candy Cane. It became a 
meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time. But meaning is still there for 
all those who “Have eyes to see and ears to hear.” We pray that this symbol will
again be used to witness to the wonder of Jesus and His great love that came 
down at Christmas.

May you experience the full joy of Christmas – the hope and wonder of Emmanuel, God with Us!

Love and Blessings to you all for Christmas and the coming year.

Reverend Shan

3rd Sunday of Advent – 15th December 2013

Once again, this week, the message of our readings is a message of HOPE, and a message of great promise – even in the midst of the darkest hours, and seemingly impossible situations.

But these readings are also an encouragement to me as they make it very clear that even the heroes and saints, the greatest of believers, had moments when questions, worries and doubts assailed them.

Mary asked “how can this be?” John asked ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’

A young, unwed mother-to-be facing an uncertain future, a wilderness preacher awaiting a death sentence and a nation in exile – all given a message of HOPE and the promise of an incredibly different and wonderful future.

So, what does this mean for us living in the between times? In the words of James (5:7-8)  7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

So we live each day, not as those who are under sentence of death … but as those just setting out on a journey to a wondrous new life.

Love and Blessings

Reverend Shan

2nd Sunday of Advent – 8th December 2013

From Seasons of the Spirit, these words (paraphrased) to ponder – Hope and imagination are closely related. The readings for this week, especially from Isaiah, invite the exercise of imagination to perceive the possibility of God’s shalom (deep peace and wholeness of life) both in our inner and outer lives. The toddler plays over the snake and models the biblical paradigm of power, where vulnerability trumps violence. 

Shalom is a Hebrew word for healthy wholeness of life that God desires for all creation.  

Imagine the hopes of your faith and wider community five, or ten, or more years ago. In what ways have those promises found realization or delay? In what ways have they been set aside? Ask the same questions of yourself. What has made it possible for you and others to dare to hope? What role has God’s promises played in those choices to hope, or not?

 

For myself it has been a week of mixed blessings. The welcome home from retreat, and support received on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate (and 19th to the priesthood) were incredibly affirming, and I thank you.

On the other hand our son, has been called home from the Philippines due to his wife’s ongoing ill health. We are deeply concerned for this young family of four.

On occasions it would be all too easy to drown in the concerns of the moment… and to forget God’s longer view – and the promised wonder that is to come. In fact the moments of darkness can obscure the light if we lose sight of hope.

 

I pray that you might not lose sight of Hope and recognize God’s Peace even in the midst of whatever turmoil you might find yourself in because – The light of Christ has come into the world!

Many Blessings

Reverend Shan