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Hallo again to all.00058 christ pantocrator mosaic hagia sophia 656x800" by Byzantinischer Mosaizist des 12. Jahrhunderts - Unknown. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

How did it get to be the Sunday next before Advent?

We have been merrily traveling down the stream of ordinary time, and now? Is it really The End?

Thanks to Pope Pius XI and his Quas Primas issued in 1925, many Anglicans celebrate today as the Feast of Christ the King. For those who do, vestments today are a glorious change from the green of ordinary time. For the rest of us, today is our farewell to green altar hangings and vestments. Either way, today's service feels special — more so than a regular Sunday.

For us, today is a bit like a church-based New Year's Eve. In a way, one could call this whole week leading up to the start of Advent an 'Eve' of sorts — a time for reflection on the past year and preparing for the new liturgical year that is fast approaching.

One can tot up activities and news items. Bishops were consecrated, retired, and replaced. Who could be a bishop was debated in some parts of the Communion with a fervour that is sadly missing from many other parts of life. Churches worried about budgets; dioceses debated closing parishes and proper alternate uses for the buildings. Much clucking occurred over the greying of church-goers and how to welcome and engage Millennials. We read and heard a lot of verbal sparring over 'we have always done it this way' versus 'time for change'.

credit: Olve Utne, Creative Comons

None of that accounting is what we would call reflection. It is just worldly noise. For our purposes, we have decided instead to follow the customs of our friends who practice Judaism. The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) occurs in the fall each year. It opens a period of ten days of reflection that culminate in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). For many of us outside the Jewish faith, these are the High Holy Days with which we are conversant. What many of us don't realise is the important role the days preceding Rosh Hashanah have as preparation for those holy ten Days of Awe at the start of the liturgical New Year. The month of Elul is the last month of the Jewish year, and its theme is one of repentance with a healthy dose of introspection while seeking and listening for God.

So we shall use this coming week as a compressed form of Elul. We will use the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (Exodus 34:6-7a*) that are integral to the Selichot service as our guide. In Judaism, these attributes and their associated prayers are not recited by a lone person, but are communally prayed. So, to honor our Abrahamic sisters and brothers, we will use them as our guide for meditation and action.

We will focus on compassion for others, human or otherwise. We will think of ways to give back to others in our community and then follow through with action. We will work on being gracious. We will seek and answer to truth. We will actively work on forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin without judging. And we will regularly say a blessing for those around us.

We hope these disciplines will make us more ready to start our observance of the season of Holy Waiting.

Ah! Jesu Lord, my heal and weal, my bliss complete,
Make thou my heart thy garden-plot, fair, trim and neat.

See you next week in the new year!


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All of us at Anglicans Online

23 November 2014

*Exodus 34:6-7a:
6 The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed,
"The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

7a keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin...


King Jesus hath a garden (translated from the Dutch by the Revd George R Woodward).

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