Services at St Michael and All Angels (refer to the website for times)
Sunday 2 December, 1st Sunday of Advent
Sunday 9 December. 2nd Sunday of Advent
Sunday 16 December, 3rd Sunday of Advent
Sunday 23 December, 4th Sunday of Advent
Intent: Right action
Tuesday 25 December, Christmas Day
The Nativity of Our Lord
Sunday 30 December, 1st Sunday after the Nativity
The interconnectedness of all things
As Advent approaches there is much activity in the community. This time of year brings “end of year” celebrations and events in schools, universities, businesses, parliament and, of course, Christian churches. Advent, which comes at the end of up to 25 Sundays in Trinity, marks the start of the Church’s New Year and was signalled by the “Sunday next before Advent” on 25 November.
End of year activities usually encourage us to feel part of our communities, local of more widely spread, and memories of Christmas past often give us a lightness in our steps. The celebrations remind us that we are, actually, part of our communities and are linked in many ways and at many different levels.
In 1979 James Lovelock wrote a controversial book on “Gaia Theory” in which he proposed that all organisms (including humans!) interact with their surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating system which maintains all life on our planet. The “Gaia” in Lovelock’s book is the Greek goddess who was the ancestral mother of all life, the primordial Mother goddess.
More recently, in 2015 and on a smaller scale, Peter Wohlleben has written “The Hidden Life of Trees”. The author relates how groups of trees use scent to “talk” to one another and take communal action against pests. It is not too big a step to expand this interconnectedness out more broadly to encompass the intent of The Gaia Hypothesis or our mutual community “feel good” reaction to the approach of Christmas.
Another form of interconnectedness that most of us interact with (and may even enjoy!) is the internet. This man-made network encompasses the Earth and impacts more and more on our everyday activities and consciousness.
For many of us at our personal levels, as Liberal Catholics, we are aware that we are surrounded by hierarchies of spiritual beings (Angels and others) that interact with one another during their own work and activities and also interact with us when we have the correct means to open ourselves to their work. The “correct means” include our Eucharist and other liturgical practices. In our daily lives we can choose to invoke, to contemplate, to thank these “invisible” helpers, guides and co-creators.
One of the most distinctive differences between the man-made internet network and the Angelic network is the reality of the process of evolution. Spiritual evolution, similar to Darwin’s idea of evolution, utilises what is relevant (aligned with God’s intentions) and discards the rest. We are constantly changing, learning and adapting, and we expect that this process is experienced in the Angelic and spiritual realms. The physical internet, on the other hand, needs human intervention for any evolution in the form of maintenance, changes, upgrades and we all know when our internet connections are not operating!
Guardian Angels by Benozzo Gozzoli 1421-1497
During Advent and Christmas, we can enjoy a special time of spiritual blessings which are more intense now than at other times during the year. We can reach out at this special time in our prayers, devotions and meditations and endeavour to align ourselves with our Angelic co-workers and with God’s intent for us in our chosen path. Our human interconnections and the ever-present spiritual and Angelic interconnections can interact, bless one another and evolve into ever increasing harmony and richness. Christmas recreates and commemorates Christ’s bringing a divine energy, force and direction into our physical, visible world.
As we come together with family and friends, we can look for opportunities to assist and learn from one another and, best of all, enjoy and be grateful for their presence. Recall the closing words of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” where Tiny Tim proclaims, “God bless us everyone”
With God's blessing