Today we had a rather jolly gathering to celebrate the fourth Sunday of Advent. We started the service with a practise of the new carol which Harry has composed which we will sing this Christmas.
Notices for this week and services for Christmas
Tuesday 10am Prayer Group in the Garden Room.
Thursday Holy Communion 10am
Friday Christmas Eve Carol Service 4pm
Saturday Christmas Day Sung Eucharist 10am
Sunday Boxing Day – No service
Thursday 30th December – No service
Sunday 2nd January Feast of the Epiphany Sung Eucharist 10am
Website – onlineprayer.net
Further news from the diocese and church can be found on the St Andrews website. Click on the link below.
Fourth Sunday of Advent 2021 St Andrew’s Milngavie
Yesterday I finally got around to decorating my Christmas tree. All week it had stood tall, dignified and unadorned of trinkets and lights. Now it is transformed, sparkling with joy and colour. Like the advent season it has morphed from darkness to light bringing the anticipated hope and cheer of Christmas.
Advent is a season full of hope and anticipation. When we think of our own lives, we often associate hope and anticipation with happy times: like waiting for a holiday, a major event or simply something nice to happen.
But the first Christmas wasn’t exactly happy and hopeful, Mary was forced to be away from home at such a crucial time, Joseph had to cope with the birth, the threat from Herod and then they couldn’t go home until it was safe.
As we discussed last week the readings of Advent itself aren’t particularly happy, either. Advent speaks of awaiting God’s help in the midst of desperation, reminding us that we can find echoes of Advent clearly in the world today. As we watch the news and see the pain in the world and the spread of the omicron we are faced with our own powerlessness. Advent is here to remind us that we cannot always save ourselves from ourselves, but that there is yet hope.
Today, with four candles lit, the Song of Mary soars through the Gospel reading and into our hearts again, as it does every year. Mary, the unwed mother, the fiancé of a carpenter. Mary, who was to know depths of desperation, who felt herself powerless but sang to God who was about to save the whole world with those wonderful words “Be it unto me according to thy word”. Luke 1:38
We often think of Mary as gentle and meek, but today, Mary is brave and bold, singing loud and strong, because everything — the very shape of human history — is about to change. The new dawn is on the way, and Mary sings that wonderful song of praise we now call the Magnificat, to greet it. The weight lessens; hope is born.
However, Mary doesn’t initially greet the news from Gabriel with her soaring song and blazing hope. When Luke’s Gospel first introduces us to Mary, she is more like the traditional image of Mary — young, meek, seemingly timid, but ultimately faithful. When the angel tells her the news, she consents, but she doesn’t sing for joy immediately. But what she does do is visit Elizabeth. Mary wants to be near someone who understands. Elizabeth, Mary knows, won’t think she’s crazy because she understands that God does work in mysterious and unexpected ways, for she is also with child in extraordinary circumstances. Here Mary is able to find the courage to sing her song of hope.
Today, Mary sings as she invites us into the vulnerable territory of daring to hope. Optimism looks behind us to find comfort in what we’ve experienced before. Hope — the big, musical hope of Mary — looks ahead, knowing that we cannot imagine what God is able to do.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with optimism. Optimism hopes for good fortune, for fun with friends and family during Christmas, for a blessed and happy new year, and for love and warmth to surround us. There is nothing wrong with a little optimistic Advent cheer. Optimism is not enough on its own. It is too difficult to sustain. The world is too broken, too violent, and too divided, too uncertain and we alone cannot fix it. Our one spark of hope is that God has spoken and told us that someday, all things — all things — from our personal struggles to the weight of the world’s pain, shall be made right. That hope is why Mary sings.
Today, the Gospel story invites us, like Mary, to seek out others in order to find our song of hope. It wasn’t until Mary was with Elizabeth in the Judean hills that her hope burst into song. And maybe, whether we know it or not, that’s what we’ve done today, too. We have made haste to seek one another out, despite the threat of the virus to gather together so that we, too, can sing songs of hope.
At Advent we long, hope, wait, anticipate, and we are never let down at the last minute. Every year, Christmas always arrives. Even if we are exhausted or weary, the Light of Christ always comes to the Church. Always. The final candle is always lit. Advent and Christmas are here every year to remind us that God has already broken through our existence. Despite the world’s pain, the dawn is well on the way.
And that is why Mary finds Elizabeth and sings her heart out. So, let us today find one another and sing our hearts out to the God who breaks through our humanity, who sustains our lives, and who dares us to hope.