News from Saint Thomas Church Week Beginning December 8

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In this week’s news…

A Message from the Rector

Dear Friends,

Rector Turner
The Reverend Canon Carl Turner

In spite of the threat of winter storm Ezekiel, a large number of us began the Church’s year with a splendid Advent Sunday filled with glorious music and a sense of expectation. One of the themes of the Advent season is darkness and light; to that end I must apologize for those who could not read their Sunday liturgy leaflet at the beginning of the 11am procession – the lighting settings were adjusted for 4pm so there was a little amusement as we sang the words “Cast away the works of darkness, O ye children of the day!” Of course, we rely so much on technology these days that we take so much for granted. I remember when my children were in their early teens and, one day, I came back from Evensong to discover them engrossed in their digital devices; one of them was on her i-Pad; one was on her mobile phone; one was playing with a game console attached to the TV. Not one of them bothered to look up as I greeted them. I was so cross that I said, “Do you realize that when I was your age there were no mobile phones? No computers, no tablets, no fax machines for that matter. We didn’t have voicemail, and we had to share the one landline with our next-door neighbor; there was no morning TV and we had to turn it off in the afternoon to cool down!” Slowly, they looked up at me and Katie, our youngest, spoke those chilling words that every parent has to hear at some stage in their lives: “Dad! You are so old!”

Amusing anecdotes aside, Advent is a time of preparation. Differing from Lent, it is not penitential in nature but rather a time of getting ready with the sobering themes of death and judgement, which should bring us to our knees and encourage us to make our confession before almighty God. But Advent is also a season of hope and expectation – a season of waiting. It comes as the commercial world around us gets more and more frenetic and the pace of life seems to become even busier. Some years ago, I also remember a drama sketch that the Cathedral School children in Exeter performed during the annual crèche service; it was titled “Time is running out.” It was an amusing little play in which four people, including an over-worked priest, told their stories of how there was so little time to get ready for Christmas, set against the ticking of a very loud clock. The point of the sketch was, of course, that in their haste they failed to see the real reason for celebrating Christmas. The Lord came, but they were unprepared.

Preparing for an event takes time and we can become overwhelmed with everything there is to do. Some of you may have taken courses or studied some of the materials produced by Franklin Covey – a firm that specializes in time management. A very helpful tool is the ‘four quadrants of time management’ in which activities are reflected on and divided into four categories – 1: Urgent & Important; 2: Not Urgent & Important; 3: Urgent & Not Important; and 4: Not Important & Not Urgent. As you might correctly assume, many of us end up dealing with unimportant things that somehow seem urgent or, worse, drifting into the fourth quadrant and simply wasting time when we should be dealing with the important but not urgent things of our lives – giving ourselves real time to prepare and to reflect so that the crises and emergencies that appear in quadrant one can be dealt with effectively. The season of Advent does some of this, but from a spiritual perspective. How do we use our time? What is important and urgent in our lives? What is valuable and what is simply a distraction?

Time is, indeed, running out! It will be Christmas in only three weeks’ time. Let us use our beautiful sacred space and our Advent liturgy to pause, even briefly, to reflect, to sort, and to wait. Here is the poem ‘Advent Calendar’ by Rowan Williams that many of you commented on after my sermon last Sunday.

A very happy Advent to you all,

your priest and pastor.

Advent Calendar

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

–Rowan Williams

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Visiting Preacher: the Right Reverend Carlos López-Lozano

The Right Rev. Don Carlos

Coming to us from Madrid, we welcome the Bishop of Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church, the Right Reverend Carlos López-Lozano, to be our Guest Preacher at our 11am service of the Litany in Procession and Choral Eucharist on Sunday, December 8.

The Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church, also translated as Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain, or IERE (Iglesia Española Reformada Episcopal) is the church of the Anglican Communion in Spain. It was founded in 1880 and since 1980 has been an extra-provincial church under the metropolitan authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Their cathedral is the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid.

Please join us in welcoming Bishop Lopez-Lozano to Saint Thomas Church this Sunday!

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Pilgrims’ Course 2020: An Introduction to the Christian Faith

Newcomers to Saint Thomas Church and those not yet members of the church are invited to our “Pilgrims’ Course,” which is a comprehensive introduction to the Christian faith, as received and understood by the Episcopal Church.

The course will be taught by the Rector with the assistance of Fr. Cheng, and the first session will be on Tuesday, January 14th.  Each session will begin with a simple meal at 6:30 pm, and the class itself will run from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.  The sessions will continue on most Tuesday evenings through May 19th.  Bishop Allen Shin will visit the parish on Sunday, May 17, at 11 am, to confirm and receive candidates.

Although the course is specifically designed for adults who are considering baptism, confirmation, or reception into the Episcopal Church, it is fitting for anyone who wishes to explore Christianity or to deepen his or her faith.  Please email Fr. Cheng at [email protected] if you would like to register for the class.

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Crèche Service and Christmas Pageant

This year’s Crèche Service and Christmas Pageant will be held on Tuesday, December 17, at 5:30pm. This service (which lasts less than an hour) is growing in popularity. The choristers sing, the Nursery and Sunday School have their Christmas Pageant, the Crèche is Blessed, and we are joined by children from San Andreas Episcopal Church in Yonkers.

As is our custom, we encourage all children to come in costume – Angels, Shepherds, Donkeys, Cows, Sheep, Stars, Kings, Mary, and Joseph. Spare costumes and props are available on the day. Parents are also welcome to join in the dressing up for this special service.

Please send any queries to Mother Turner.

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Lessons and Carols Services, with Special Filming

This holy season, we welcome you to the variations of Lessons & Carols that Saint Thomas Church will host at four services from December 18 through December 24:

  • The traditional Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols is on Sunday, December 22 at 4pm and repeated on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24 at 4pm.
  • A shorter Service of Lessons and Carols (lasting approximately fifty minutes) is on Wednesday, December 18, at 12:10pm and repeated on Saturday, December 21, at 4pm.
  • The Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols on Sunday, December 22 at 4pm will be filmed by the Office of Communication of the Episcopal Church for a special video presentation to be globally available online before Christmas Day. Please note that if you attend this service, you could be filmed and appear in this online production. 

For more information about these seasonal services, please follow this link.

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