2020 December 16 - Pew News

The third Sunday in Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday. This comes
from the Latin word Gaudete, which means rejoice.
Like Lent, Advent is a penitential season as we wait for the coming of Christ
at the Feast of Christmas. But in the middle of the season we have Gaudete
Sunday when the joy and the gladness of the coming Christ is remembered.
An alternative name for this Sunday is Refreshment Sunday – the same
name for Mothering Sunday in Lent.

Today we normally light the pink candle on our Advent wreath. Pink is more celebrative
and joyful than the penitent and royal purple of the other candles on the wreath, and
reveals a shift away from repentance towards celebration. (The pink candle is also known
as the Shepherd Candle or the Candle of Joy.)
All of today’s set lessons address the theme of joy and rejoicing, but specifically, I want to
think about Paul’s message to the Thessalonians: "Rejoice always". (1 Thessalonians 5
verse 16)
Rejoice always – whether watching Portsmouth FC, or washing up, or sitting in a traffic jam.
Does Paul really mean “Rejoice always”? How can we rejoice always when bad things
happen all around us?

Paul isn’t suggesting everyone should go around with a forced grin on their face, acting as if
everything was alright. He isn’t saying that suffering doesn’t come to those who are faithful
believers in Christ. Paul himself faced suffering, persecution, and health problems. It
would be unrealistic for Paul to suggest Christians ought to forget every difficult moment in
their lives, acting as if they didn’t exist.
Rejoice has the word joy as its root. Joy, true joy, is deeper than a painted-on grin and is
based on more than just our fickle feelings, which can go up and down with each passing
moment. Happiness can come and go just as quickly. Experiencing true joy, being able to
rejoice always, is a gift from God, given in spite of circumstances. No matter what
happens, Christ is with us to see us through. This doesn’t mean life will not hurt, but that
even in the midst of all the hurts, we can rejoice because God is still good.
Rejoicing always means inclining toward joy rather than pain, and asking God to deliver us
the rest of the way so we may rejoice always. This joy isn’t something we can
manufacture. We cannot make ourselves experience it, or force ourselves to rejoice, but
we can choose to move toward the gift that’s given.
Although it isn’t easy to rejoice always, Advent is a good time to reflect on those things we
can rejoice about, even in these current difficult times. The pictures of the vaccine being
administered to folk earlier this week was truly a reason for rejoicing. Find a way to let joy
into your life. Do something positive to bring someone else a little joy and you might just
find that joy turning back on you and bringing you joy in the process.
You would have to wait a long time if you waited for joy to find you. Most people don’t find
joy, because they’re looking in the wrong places. They’re waiting for their life
circumstances to bring them joy. But this will never work since we live in an imperfect
world; so something will always be not quite right. Don’t wait for your life to be perfect in
order to open your heart to joy; you will never experience joy at that rate.
If for a fleeting moment, you do manage to find perfection, eventually something will
disrupt it and that’s when you realize joy based on positive outward circumstances will
never last. If your plan for finding joy is to be rich, healthy, successful, and popular and
your goal is to have a pain and trouble-free life, then be prepared for plenty of
disappointment.
Rejoice always, even if you don’t have the money to buy the Christmas presents you want
to buy. Rejoice always, because you will never have a perfect life. Rejoice always, because
God’s gifts to us are many.
Rejoice always, because the closer we get to Christmas - the closer we are to experiencing
the most important celebration of joy. Rejoice always, because our Lord and Saviour took
on flesh and became one of us so we would be saved. So rejoice always! Amen

With love and best wishes

Martin

Worship for the week ahead: (through the medium of ‘Zoom’, except where indicated)

Monday 14th 0830 Morning Prayer St John of the Cross
Tuesday 15th 0830 Morning Prayer
Wednesday 16th 0830 Morning Prayer
Thursday 17th 0830 Holy Communion

Friday 18th 0830 Morning Prayer
Sunday 20th 0800 Holy Communion (BCP) in the Parish Church BOOK IN ADVANCE
4th SUNDAY

IN ADVENT 0930 Morning Prayer (Zoom), with Hymns & Nativity. FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
1800 Christmas Carol Service in the Parish Church (led by the adult choir).
BOOK IN ADVANCE
‘BOOK IN ADVANCE’ designates a ticketed service, requiring pre-booking due to limited
numbers. Do not please turn up without the confirmation that you have a place, or you will be
turned away. Booking in advance is by phone or email to the Rector.

Each of the following later services in Advent and Christmas seasons also requires pre-booking:
23 December, 1800 Service of Christmas Carols (led by the junior choir) VERY FEW PLACES LEFT
24 December, 1800 Holy Communion in the Parish Church (contemporary language)
25 December, 0800 Holy Communion (BCP) in the Parish Church
1115 Holy Communion at Woodmancote Church (contemporary language)


Notices

The churches’ Parish Christmas Card is available in the church, kindly bagged up to invite delivery to
streets in Westbourne, Woodmancote and Aldsworth. If you can help, please pick up a batch for posting
through doors this week; or help yourself to some of the unbatched cards if you can deliver to neighbours
beyond the parish boundary who you know would appreciate a card.

The Parish Church is decorated for Advent, with tree and crib scene now in place. Thank you to those
who have helped in this. It forms part of the attractions of the village in this festive season. We can all
allow our homes to be a part of such a united display as well with decorations in our windows. Candles to
show the season of Advent will be especially appropriate. For those lighting Advent candles at home, this
weekend invites the lighting of the Third Candle (see Martin Brown’s comments above).

Nativity and Crib - our younger members have been working hard to enact and record a version of the
Christmas story for us to enjoy. Great thanks to Emily Cowdry, designer and director, together with other
adult helpers. In slightly differing forms, the children’s production can be enjoyed via Zoom in next
Sunday’s 0930 Act of Worship (where it is called a Nativity Play) and at 3pm on Christmas Eve in the
context of our Crib Service.

Services in the weeks ahead

Our churches’ plans for the period to the end of January are set out in the
current Westbourne Magazine and will be published further as the weeks proceed. We of course await
national directives to know what will remain possible for us. Still, the published schedule sets out our
best intentions and are based on several principles.
- to offer a robust seasonal celebration (applying notably at Christmas)
- that all arrangements are subject to change
- that all residents are encouraged to request Zoom addresses for those acts of worship
- ‘safe number’ maximum figures continue in each of our churches (precluding some services)
- prior booking is needed when it is likely that ‘safe number’ may be approached; such booking is made
by email or phone to the Rector), who will confirm places.
If anyone books but is later unable to attend, they should please indicate so as to make those places
available to others.
In addition, you may like to have early notice of the following Zoomed Services, for which all are welcome
to attend virtually:

22 December, 1800 Carols in the Kitchen, the Woodmancote Carol Service (but open to all)

24 December, 1500 Crib Service

Westbourne Help, which did such a good job locally in the earlier months of the pandemic has been
called back into being by the Parish Council to help those who are isolating or have no other support over
the winter because of Covid-19. Notices are being posted around the village.

GENERAL NOTICES regarding provision and access during Covid-19

Nose and mouth coverings must be worn in gathered services. There is no congregational singing.
Our Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Westbourne, is open to visitors from 10am-3pm each day
(Sunday 12 noon – 3pm). You may find it open on some occasions in the early evening, too.
Whilst this remains so, we continue presently to ask all who come to wear face coverings and to write
their details on the sheet to help us fulfil our Test and Trace responsibilities. For smartphone users, we
now have our own venue QR code which can be used to record your visit. Please enter by the North
door, and leave by the West door, using sanitizer on entry and upon leaving. The toilet is not in use
during the week.

The local church continues to worship through ‘Zoom’ on weekday mornings at 0830 (for half an hour).
The Rector will be pleased to add to those names already registered with us and wishing to join these
daily acts, however occasionally. Just send him an email.

If there are causes or people that you wish to bring to the attention of the Church and its praying
community, please contact Rector or Wardens.


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