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Advent and Christmas at St Giles

Advent is almost upon us and I write to tell you about the theme of the season and how you might enter fully into this time at St. Giles-in-the-Fields.

Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ in his incarnation, and also looks ahead to his final advent as judge at the end of time. The readings and liturgies not only direct us towards Christ’s birth, they also challenge the modern reluctance to confront the theme of divine judgement:

Every eye shall now behold him robed in dreadful majesty. Charles Wesley

The Four Last Things – Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell – have been traditional themes for Advent meditation. The characteristic note of Advent is therefore expectation, rather than penitence, although the character of the season is easily coloured by an analogy with Lent. The anticipation of Christmas under commercial pressure has also made it harder to sustain the appropriate sense of alert watchfulness, but the fundamental Advent prayer remains ‘Maranatha’ – ‘Our Lord, come’ (1 Corinthians 16.22). Advent is a season that calls us to set aside time in the secular rush towards Christmas to think, reflect and prepare.

I write to you to encourage your full participation in the up and coming season of Advent which begins on Sunday the 28th of November. There are three specific Advent events to which I would particularly like to invite you to come and be part of.

On the first Sunday of Advent (28th November) we will be holding our annual Candlelit Advent Carol service. The service draws out some of the great advent themes of anticipation and expectation. Our Evensong Choir together with The Quartet will give musical voice to these themes and together with readings and reflections from scripture we shall spiritually encounter the call of our Lord to be watchful at all times. The service will be followed by drinks and refreshments at The Rectory to which all are invited.

On Saturday 4th December 10:00-15:30 I am leading an Advent Quiet Day at the Royal Foundation of St. Katharine. The day is an opportunity to gather together, to step aside from the hustle and bustle of this time of year and to dwell together in the presence of God. If you’ve not been to a day like this before then I warmly encourage you to give it go! I will lead us in two reflections from scripture drawing out the themes of advent and there will be an opportunity to share Holy Communion. Key to the day is the chance to give yourself time for silence and space to spend with God. The Royal Foundation of St. Katharine is a wonderful place, easily accessible by the tube.

Some members of St. Georges, Bloomsbury are joining us together with their Rector, The Revd David Peebles. A meal and refreshments are provided. A donation of £25 is asked. We have been allocated 10 places, please drop me or Lesley a line if you would like to join us.

Thirdly there will be an opportunity to gather for the short service of Candlelit Compline in church. The service will be totally candlelit and will begin with a reflection on one of the great advent themes:

1st December Compline and Reflection ‘Death’ 6.30pm

8th December Compline and Reflection ‘Judgement’ 6.30pm

14th December Compline and Reflection ‘Heaven’ 6.30pm

21st December Compline and Reflection ‘Hell’ 6.30pm

I very much hope you will be able to take the time out in the busy Advent season to share in these times of reflection and preparation. - Tom Sander, Rector

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