Services at St Michael and All Angels (refer to smlcc.com.au for times)
Sunday 1 December, 1st Sunday of Advent
Sunday 8 December, The Immaculate Conception of Our Lady
Sunday 15 December, 3rd Sunday of Advent
Sunday 22 December, 4th Sunday of Advent
Intent: Right action
Wednesday 25 December, The Nativity of Our Lord
Sunday 29 December, 1st Sunday after the Nativity
Advent and Christmas
This year the first Sunday of Advent falls on December 1st, the first day of Summer. All very neat and tidy! Our continent is going through another of its periodic reoccurrences of extremes, this time with all the extremes – drought, hail, wind, cold, heat - appearing to arrive at once. It may be that we are experiencing many smaller cycles all recurring at the same time, resulting in unnatural maximums and minimums of all the weather features. Whatever is driving what, we are “living in interesting times” as the Chinese proverb says.
At St Michael’s in Southport, rather than praying for rain, we pray for a return of harmony to our ecosystem. Queenslanders are only too aware of the end result of too much rain! Guided by Mickey Mouse’s experience in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, we are safer to leave the details to nature and the Angels rather than suggesting how many millimeters of rain we need.
Advent is a period signaling the Church’s New Year and a preparation for Christmas. At our calendar New Year of December 31 and January 1 we often take the time to reflect and to set up our incoming year with New Year resolutions. This is always an exercise with mixed outcomes! Probably the most valuable part of the exercise is the period of quiet reflection in which we formulate our “resolutions”. We can also do this same thoughtful exercise at the Church New Year and endeavour to make our spiritual “resolutions” and set our personal spiritual expectations for the incoming church year.
The last paragraph of the General Information page in our Liturgy (p7 in the 5th edition, 1983) contains a beautifully compact description of an uplifting vision for the LCC:
The Liberal Catholic Church is a living Christian church which maintains that the form of religion should keep pace with human spiritual growth and enlightenment, but it also holds that the church has handed down a precious heritage from Christ himself.
This statement assumes and expects that our personal spiritual growth is ongoing and as we interact with the world, while enjoying the “very precious heritage from Christ himself”, we are able continuously to draw strength and inspiration from structures such as our Sacraments.
Another form of spiritual nourishment from a well that never runs dry is reading the scriptures. The Rev Geoffrey Hodson has written extensively on the deep and universally meaningful messages and instructions for life which can be found in the scriptures of the great world faiths. In particular, in his group of books, “The Hidden Wisdom in the Holy Bible” (1st edition 1963, revised edition 1970), he points out that there is a universal set of symbols which can be learned and which enable us to gain insights into a “philosophy of life which is spiritual, intellectual and pre-eminently practical”.
One example from Fr Geoffrey’s Volume 1 concerns Jesus cursing the fig tree that has not borne fruit (Matthew 21:19, Mark 11:21). As Fr Geoffrey comments, this seems to be a very un-Christ-like action! He goes on to expand on this passage, which is an allegory concerned with universal laws. In this case, the insight we can gain is the need for all living things and beings (us!) to share the fruits of our lives (possessions, discovered wisdom, truth and power). If this is not done, we will metaphorically wither and die.
As well as discussing the symbols and their meaning, Fr Geoffrey also sets out the procedure that a seeker may adopt to achieve results with clarity. Briefly, we prepare by setting the correct motivation before embarking on a period of study, and we ask for assistance from our Higher Self to experience the inner illumination that will cement our experience and continue to supply the energy needed for us to persevere on our spiritual path.
As we reflect on our New (spiritual) Year’s resolutions, we might consider taking on a
program of study along these lines to give ourselves a truly sustainable Christian Christmas present which will bring us ever closer to realising the Christ within, and sharing our love and all of God’s blessings we have received with all we meet and interact with over this Festive Season.
With God’s blessing