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Juan de Flandes, The Nativity, c. 1508/1519, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DCHallo again to all on this second Sunday of Advent.

There is a mystery to Advent. In the Northern hemisphere, it is dark now. It is a time of waiting, of preparing. In one sense we know what we are preparing for, because we do it every year, but in another sense, we don't know at all what we are preparing for, because we are preparing for Him to come again.

So often mysteries leave clues, and this week in the News Centre the clues are all there. Everywhere you look there is death, rebirth, and preparation. Bells renewed. Electric power reborn. Dynamited churches rebuilt. A system of laws in Britain may well end, to be replaced by another.

There is a new prayer book in England, even though the old one is immortal. There are congregations leaving one church to start another, hoping to find Christ more clearly in the new church. A parish in Arkansas is looking to hire a youth minister. If ministry to youth isn't the rebirth of the church, then we don't know what is. And, my goodness: a radical bishop even writes about the entire church dying and being reborn.

Sometimes death is for the moment just death, as with the sad stories in India and Washington, and sometimes the building and preparation doesn't come from any particular end or death. But the cycle is very visible if you know how to look for it. Go read all of the news as the millennium comes to a close, and you will feel it. We are all waiting for the last great Easter day, but while we're waiting, it feels very right to repair our bells, find new vicars, and rebuild destroyed sanctuaries.

There are nearly two dozen new parishes listed this week, in England, Ireland, and the USA. There are beautiful new Advent calendar sites, a glorious new site with a classic history of African-Americans in the Episcopal Church, and online Christian education classes in Anglican History. Everything new is in New This Week.

A blessed Advent season to all. See you next week.

Cynthia McFarland's signature
  Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
  Brian Reid

Last updated: 10 December 2000

Joseph Our Lady The face of the Madonna The baby The beasts The shepherds The angels The owl The mystery