In the weeks prior to Jesus’s birth, the Magi left the familiar on a long trek to an obscure town in a foreign land. It’s a long way to go to worship the new king born in Bethlehem. It was not an easy journey. Advent is our own long journey leading us to a place where we can recognise God revealed to us and to worship him.
The Rev. Richard Sewell is the Dean of St. George’s College, Jerusalem.
The west window at Chester Cathedral showing the Holy Family with Saints Werburgh, Oswald, Aidan, Chad, Wilfrid, and Ethelfleda
It is not easy to pray. The apostles knew that. That is why instead of a lesson on preaching, they asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus replied, “When you pray, say ‘Our Father.’” Prayer is relationship. When we say, “let us pray,” we open ourselves to a deeper and intimate relationship with God. We also open our hearts to humanity so we may intercede for the world.
The Rev. Fred Vergara is the Missioner for Asiamerica Ministries for The Episcopal Church.
Following the bombing of the mediaeval Coventry Cathedral in 1940, Provost Howard had the words ‘Father Forgive’ inscribed on the wall behind the Altar of the ruined building. Two charred roof-beams which had fallen in the shape of a cross were bound and placed at the site of the ruined altar.
The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation is prayed in the new Cathedral every weekday at noon (in the Ruins on Fridays), and is used throughout the world by the Community of the Cross of Nails:
‘All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class, Father, forgive.
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own, Father, forgive.
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth, Father, forgive.
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others, Father, forgive.
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee, Father, forgive.
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children, Father, forgive.
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God, Father, forgive.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you’.
Isaiah encourages: Say to those of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear!” In these polarized times it is often fear that keeps us from knowing neighbors who are “not like us”. God’s Way of Love encourages us to learn from those whose culture, religion, race, way of life is different from our own, there to exchange rich gifts of God’s whole creation.
Margaret Rose is the Ecumenical Officer for The Episcopal Church.
On September 2, 2019, I received a very special message, and it made my day! The message said, “Hello Catherine! I am going to get married on December 14, 2019! Our wedding will be held in St. Peter’s Church (Chiayi). We want to invite you to attend our wedding, we would be happy if you can come!”
🥳🥳🥳 YES! Of course I must go, I just have to be there!🥳🥳🥳
🥳 ISAAC IS GETTING MARRIED, YIPPEE! 🥳
And so it was that yesterday, 220 km south of here, in the lovely little church of St. Peter’s, Chiayi, a young and handsome Isaac 瑋杰 Wei-Chieh and his lovely bride, Angie 雅馨 Ya-Hsin were married.
THANKS BE TO GOD!
And, thanks be to God again, cos I was there too!
But I was not the only person to travel to Chiayi from Taipei; Isaac’s grandfather and some family members had also set off early to be there for the 3:00 pm wedding. And they were also, like me, going back the same day. Actually it took me 5 hours each way, and that included 90 minutes by High-Speed Rail from Taipei to Chiayi. But it was well well worth it! This is Isaac’s grandfather and the family….
Isaac is the young man who I got to know a few years ago through my visits to St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi for a series of youth Bible Studies. He was teaching nearby at the time, was a relatively new Christian and had joined St. Peter’s Church – and was helping to lead the church youth group. In the summer of 2016, he was one of 3 delegates from the Diocese of Taiwan to take part in a CCEA Youth Forum in Malaysia, and as a result of that trip, we arranged for him to share his experiences with us all at an event at St. Peter’s, when Raj Patel, CMS Regional Manager for Asia came to visit Taiwan in October 2016 (see that blog post here). We were all most impressed. The Church definitely needs more people like Isaac! Here he is with the St. Peter’s youth group….
That event in October 2016 at St. Peter’s was held while the vicar of St. Peter’s, Rev. Simon T. S. Tsou, was away in the USA for a 3-month training program with the Diocese of Los Angeles. As Simon recounted yesterday at the wedding, it was also while he was away in the USA, that Simon’s wife informed him that Isaac had started to bring a very nice young lady along to church. That young lady was his colleague, Angie – at the time she was interested in the Christian Gospel and taking part in Bible Studies, but had not yet found a church to go to. She continued at St. Peter’s, and soon afterwards was baptized, they got to know each other better, and well, as they say, the rest is history! These days, they both work in Kaohsiung, and worship 3 Sundays a month at St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung, and one Sunday a month at St. Peter’s. So the wedding was held in St. Peter’s, led by Rev. Simon Tsou, but with the vicar of St. Paul’s, Rev. Cheng Chen-Chang giving the marriage blessing.
The St. Peter’s Youth Group, many of whom have since moved away for university study, all returned to sing at the wedding. Isaac also sang his own song for his new wife. Ah, it was very moving!
There were lots of church members there from St. Paul’s, Kaohsiung…
And even more from St. Peter’s, Chiayi…
Many congratulations to the happy couple, may God bless them in their new life together, and as they continue to serve him and serve in the church! Thanks be to God for them both, they are so lovely. Please do keep them in your prayers.
I left for home straight after the service and refreshments – after all there was a 5-hour journey to face – but we were all given a little pack of yummy homemade cookies for the journey. Such thoughtfulness! Thank you Isaac and Angie and all at St. Peter’s Church for a great day, it was a wonderful and very special occasion!
I watched some children play hide-and-seek at a party recently. The little girl turned away, squeezed her eyes closed, and counted. Then, with a loud giggle, she spun back around. The look on her face when she turned was one of pure joy and excitement as she anticipated finding her friends.
We are invited this day to turn our hearts towards God. May we do so with great anticipation and find joy in discovering that God is ready to be found.
The Rev. Kim Jackson (VTS ’10) is an Episcopal priest based out of Atlanta, Georgia and sits on the VTS Board of Trustees.
Adapted from T. S. Eliot’s poem, ‘Four Quartets’, words engraved on the glass door of St. Catherine’s Chapel in Norwich Cathedral: “Reach out to the silence at the still point of the turning world / Except for the still point, there would be no dance”
The spirit of gathering is in the air-gathering with friends and family, gathering gifts to share, gathering prayers and songs for the new dawn of Jesus in our midst. Drawn together by the light of the newborn Christ, we gather at the crèche to see Jesus, and glimpse in one another his saving love.
The Rev. Taylor Devine (VTS ’17) is the associate rector at St. Philip’s in the Hills, Tucson, Arizona and director of the Episcopal Service Corps site, Beloved in the Desert.
Our living world is powerful, yet even the strongest organism needs water to live. The words of the prophet Isaiah offer images of a shoot rising from a stump and showers watering the earth. These images point us to the sustaining power of water and remind us of the cleansing power of God. In this Advent season, may we prepare to receive the water that quenches every thirst and cleanses all, may we be ready to do good.
The Rev. Chris Girata (VTS ’08) is the rector of St. Michael and All Angels in Dallas, Texas and sits on the VTS Board of Trustees.