Cow Hollow Church News
The Episcopal Church of Saint Mary the Virgin
Annus Horribilis and Welcoming Advent The Very Rev. Dr. Donald Brown, Interim Rector
On November 24, 1992, in a speech marking the 40th anniversary of her accession to the throne of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth described that year as an annus horribilis, a horrible year. I think many of us will echo this sentiment when considering 2016.
Regardless of your political leanings, this year’s campaigning has been a spectacle that seems to have awakened the worst instincts in candidates and voters alike. Regardless of how you might feel about the results of the election from president on down to dogcatcher, I know my feelings are echoed by many of you: relief. I’m relieved that the election is over, and now I am hopeful that strained relationships can be mended and people can get reacquainted with their best loving, caring instincts.
On November 27th, the Church year begins anew with the first Sunday of Advent. In the Episcopal Church we struggle valiantly to preserve the season of Advent as a time for preparing ourselves to receive again the birth of the One who was born in order to heal divisions and bring us to our best selves.
We keep Advent in the midst of a culture that has turned the “holiday season” into a twelve‐week, 24/7 online and old‐fashioned store shopping and buying frenzy. One of the blessings that comes from all the commercialism is that people who are not churchgoers at least hear the message of the birth of Jesus in religious‐themed Christmas carols which are played now and then in stores that don’t just pipe in music like “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”
People with little or no exposure to Christ are reminded that this is a season to care for the less fortunate and promote “peace on earth and good will to (wo)men of good will.” Some people who do not know Christ might hear for the first time the Good News that in Jesus the profound and everlasting Love of God is expressed in the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem. For those who have no relationship with Jesus, the carols and the decorations of this season are reminders that there is something vital missing from their lives. All of the frantic buying, partying, and holiday TV and Internet special programs cannot fill the void they sense at the center of their lives.
During this Advent season, as you compile your various Christmas lists, take time to compile a list of the people you know who don’t have a church home, or who once attended St. Mary’s but now attend nowhere. Pray about these people and invite them to attend an Advent or Christmas service with you. This is an ideal time of the year to offer such an invitation. In most congregations up to 80 to 90 percent of those actively involved say they became members because someone invited them to attend a worship service. Your invitation can make all the difference. Invite. Invite. Invite. You, like the angels of old, can bring “glad tidings of great joy” which may be the very gift your friend or acquaintance is waiting for during this holy season. This could be the best gift you could ever give.