God has sent us to “bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.” Even Jesus suggested, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
What surrounds my rest? Am I tired, exhausted even, from the spirit of God being on me, from following and from being sent? Do I deserve this rest? This quiet place? Even here resting, am I anticipating waking to acting with compassion?
Switching off for a few moments! 😴 One of our clergy takes a quick rest after lunch @ Diocese of Taiwan Annual Convention, August 15, 2020 😴 Gotta smile ~ that’s just a piece of green A4 paper folded up, with his face-mask underneath ~ so creative, so practical! 😇
And while you’re resting, check out this newly-released Nativity video by the children of Grasmere School in the Lake District, UK, set in a Covid-19 era, it’s just great ~ I love it!
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” (Henry James)
Yes, think glamourous Victorian ladies enjoying their delicate cucumber sandwiches and creamy fruit scones at Fortnum & Mason or the Ritz or wherever, drinking tea served in floral china tea-cups, talking about the weather – and just a bit of gossip – and there you have it, that’s Afternoon Tea, English-style. Well, that’s kind of the impression we all have, me too!
And that’s what I was doing at Xingren Elementary School (新北市淡水區興仁國小) last Friday, November 20. Starting at 8:30 am, all 6 classes, Grades 1-6, each came for 40 minutes each, all dressed up in their best outfits (me too!), and we drank tea together from dainty little tea cups and had chocolate biscuits. Fortunately Carrefour in Tamsui sells PG Tips and McVities chocolate digestives (labelled “Imported from the UK”), so it’s perfect. No cucumber sandwiches or cream scones, but hey, it was great! Such a simple thing to do, but such fun, and everyone was so happy – and the kids were so well-behaved! The principal came for one of the classes too. We learned how to sit and not slouch, to stir and not slop, to sip and not slurp ~ ladies and gentlemen in the making! And we learned a whole lot of English too, like, ‘Would you like some milk?’ ‘Is the tea good?’ ‘It’s delicious!’ ‘Would you like some more tea?’ ‘Yes, please’ and ‘No, thank you’.
Xingren Elementary School is our local school to St. John’s University, just 2 bus-stops down the road towards Tamsui. Many of the children who come to our summer camps here at Advent Church are pupils there, and Advent Church members go there each week to teach character education classes. The school has 91 pupils, ranging from 12 pupils in Grade 6 (although 7 of them had gone to a sports event at another school that day) to 19 in Grade 5, and all others in-between.
In May 2015, we went along to Xingren to help the children celebrate their Sports Day, and in October 2016, we went to help them celebrate their centenary, and we also went a few years ago for Christmas carol-singing. This is the first time I’ve been invited by the principal, academic supervisor and English teachers, and with the support of Bishop Chang, to give a little input as a real live foreigner. Rosa from Advent Church kindly came with me to help. Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome and their appreciation!
It’s just so easy for children (and adults!) to be weighed down by spelling, grammar and vocabulary when learning English, sigh ~ it is such a nightmare! I mean who invented this crazy grammar whereby a word like ‘go’ changes to ‘went’ in the past tense? Why can’t verbs just stay the same, like they do in Chinese? And all those complicated tenses that we have in English, sigh and groan! English Tea-Time provides a little light relief, something to encourage the children to keep up with their English, and to use it in a fun way, and learn a little about international culture at the same time ~ plus the Taiwan government is pushing for more and more English in schools and this is one good way of achieving that aim.
Thanks to the English teachers, Ariel and Sophia for all the photos ~ they were posted on the school facebook page, linking to their photo album here. And special thanks to all the children for a great day!
Regarding Tea-Time at Xingren in a time of Covid-19, Taiwan continues its long run of no domestic cases since April, and is running normally as far as work and school is concerned. Temperatures are checked on arrival at school, and facemasks are required for entry at the school gate. Once inside, masks are not compulsory, but as from December 1, new winter regulations will come into force, so changes are coming.
Next month, I hope to return there for a class about Christmas. Watch this space, and in the meantime, sit yourself down and have a nice cup of tea and chocolate digestive biscuit!
You are loved. Three simple words. And yet words that can transform…everything! The New Testament asserts that “love is from God, because God is love.” This love is nothing less than the saving lifeblood for a global family that often feels and acts in very unloving ways. All too often, we are hemorrhaging fear and hurt because we allow selfishness—the opposite of love—to fill our veins and kill our souls. And the world can be transformed. Yet in this quest, a key thing to remember is that God is the initiator of reconciliation, not we human beings.
The Most Rev. Michael Curry is the primate and presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church.
The opened door of one of the octagon angels high up in Ely Cathedral, marking the final post of Advent Word 2019… and so wishing you all a very
When Joseph obeyed the angel’s message, “go, take Mary who is with child as your wife,” the Holy Family came into being–Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Too often we overlook Joseph who was given a vocation and accepted it. Who else do we overlook, seeing them as “minor players?” The message of Advent is clear, there are no people who should be overlooked or marginalized. Our vocation as Christians calls us to see the Babe of Bethlehem in each and every person. That is the message of Advent.
The Rev. James Barney Hawkins IV, Ph.D., Co-Director, Bicentennial Campaign and Arthur Carl Lichtenberger Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Theology.
“Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;” the Psalmist cries out three times, “show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.” There are many sources of pain and suffering, but only one source of life and peace. Advent’s clarion call is to turn back and find oneself anew in the light of the face of God, restored to wholeness by the one whose return we await.
The Rev. Canon Frank Logue (VTS ’00) is the bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.
Rest is where the magic happens. True rest changes us at the cellular level. It is the space in which the body is strengthened and the soul restored. Catch your breath, let down your guard, rest and let God come especially close. Relieve yourself of the adrenaline rush and the accolades wrought of busyness so that Jesus can be born anew in you.
The Right Rev. Jennifer Baskerville Burrows is the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.
Go see. Go hear. Go tell. Following Jesus involves movement, witnessing to his ministry, using our agency for positive change through word and deed. As we go, we must keep our eyes and ears open to what the world is telling us, so that in our going, we are prepared to authentically address the needs of others and of creation.
Alan Yarborough is the Communications Coordinator and Office Manager for The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations.
A Thames Clipper sails past St. Paul’s Cathedral, London
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us of the power we all have to BLESS others when we are following the way of love. “…the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” Every day and every encounter is an opportunity for blessing.
Jenny Grant is the Officer for Global Relations and Networking in the Global Partnerships office of The Episcopal Church.
Looking down from among the octagon angels at Ely Cathedral
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’.