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November 2014

A Letter from your Lay Minister

Dear Friends,

For those of you who have not already heard, or who were not at Evensong on 12th October, since 11th October, I am no longer a Lay Reader. No, I have not got ordained or anything silly like that, the Diocese has in its wisdom decided that Readers are now to be called Licensed Lay Ministers and this will no doubt be shortened to LLM before long. Having been a Lay Reader for fourteen years, I was rather fond of the title, which originally came from the Latin “Lector” (one who reads the office in church) which dates back to beyond the Reformation, but one mustn’t stand in the way of change, even change for change’s sake!! I will not take offence if you still wish to call me a Reader, although I was reminded that Brian had rather pre-empted the change a few years ago when I was licensed to this Parish and my name added to the notice boards as “Licensed Lay Minister”. He must have known something I didn’t!

The Season of Advent begins in November this year with Advent Sunday falling on 30th November, so in most Churches the feast of St. Andrew will be transferred to 1st December. Advent Sunday marks the beginning of a new Church Year, so please don’t forget to wish everyone you see on 30th November a happy new year. They will probably think you have all gone completely mad, but just think what a great opportunity that might give you to start up a conversation with a non-church goer about the season of Advent and how that season prepares us for Christmas.

Advent Sunday is still referred to by some as the birthday of the Church, although most Christians would probably think of the church’s birthday as being Pentecost, Easter or possibly Christmas. It would make a lot of sense for The Church’s birthday to be the same date as Jesus’ birthday. Those of you who read lessons in church must remember that the Lectionary changes from Year A to Year B from Advent Sunday, so please check to make sure you are reading the correct lesson, especially if I am preaching!

Advent, as I have mentioned, is a season of preparation for Christmas. It is also a penitential season where we should spend more time remembering and confessing our sins to God and seeking His forgiveness. It may be for some of us a season for deeper Bible reading and Bible study, if only having a careful look at the reading for each Sunday before coming to church. You will soon notice that each Sunday in Advent has its own theme which is reflected in those readings, and in the sermons preached on those readings. In Advent, as in Lent, our church has no flowers or decorations (until the Christmas tree arrives) and the bareness of the church is intended to help us to concentrate on our Advent devotions and preparations without too many distractions. What a pity the Christmas tree cannot wait until Christmas Eve!

Sadly for many of us, Advent easily becomes a busy time, with little opportunity to prepare properly for the true meaning of Christmas. We rush around, doing our Christmas shopping, buying in all that food and drink which we really don’t need, and probably won’t use up till Easter!! Why not this year get all the shopping done during November so that when Advent begins you really have enough time to make your spiritual preparations for Christmas?

With many blessings to you all,

Malcolm Harper