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Vicar's Musings for the Third Sunday in Advent

11 December, 2016

Today is Gaudete Sunday, so-called from the opening word of the traditional Introit for the third Sunday of Advent: Gaudete in Domino semper "rejoice in the Lord always" which itself is taken from St Paul's letter to the Philippians 4:4. It is a day to rejoice, to take a little respite in the middle of the Advent solemnities and preparations for the great Feast of the Nativity.

The weeks leading up to Christmas can be a stressful time. On Gaudete Sunday it is fitting to intentionally set aside the anxieties and stresses of the end-of-year pre-Christmas rush. To pause. To pray. To place our worries before God. To give thanks for God's grace and God's mercies over recent days, weeks and months. I give thanks for the vibrant, welcoming, compassionate, loving church community of St Peter's Eastern Hill. We have our clay feet as an organisation, of course, but there is also much to rejoice about at The Hill. Here are some of the things that have evoked joy in my heart over the past week:

  • the Lazarus Centre volunteer who, out of the blue, gave me big hug and said how grateful he is for our kindness as a church towards those in need.
  • the homeless man sleeping in our grounds at the moment, who has little to give in return, but who (unasked) has quietly been removing all the rubbish that collects under our hedgerows.
  • the hospitality at our altars that we were able to give so freely to Bishop Genieve, thanks to the hard work we undertook as a community in 2013 around the question of ordained women's ministry and Anglo-Catholicism.
  • the flood of appreciative e-mails in response to last weekend's "Holding the Light" ecumenical service, remembering victims of domestic violence.
  • the generous, loving, faithful volunteers and staff who set tables and altars, give out hymnbooks, wash dishes, serve at the altar, sing, read, pray, serve breakfasts, prepare liturgies, help in the Bookroom ... and the list goes on.

You may like to generate your own list of thanksgiving and rejoicings this Third Sunday of Advent. Gaudete in Domino semper!

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster



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