This Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent. For Christians it is the beginning of a new liturgical year. Advent wreaths will feature in the liturgy at each of our Churches and the first of our candles representing our longing for the coming of the Lord will be lit. This year more than ever don’t we long for a new beginning. There are longings in each of our hearts for a fresh start; for an end to the pandemic; for no more lockdowns; for our friendships to be reunited; for discrimination to end; for the world to be healed; for Christ’s peace to reign. Advent is the time to explicitly voice our longings and in faith to believe that God will answer them. We will cry out week after week at the beginning of our Liturgy, ‘Come Lord Jesus, Come!’
In this week’s news letter Father Michael McEntee, (recently retired priest now living in our area), reflects on the text from Isaiah 64, “Oh that you would tear the heavens open and come down” Father Michael invites us to travel Advent with Pope Francis and Francis’ longing for a world where our earth is healed and fraternity between all peoples becomes a reality. Francis has written about these longings in Laudato Si and Fratelli Tutti. Father Michael will give us a reflection on them each week of Advent.
There will be other opportunities for us to celebrate and pray Advent. Tricia Norman, will provide us with offerings from around the Archdiocese so that each of us can decided how we will enter into the season of Advent. You may have your own tradition of family Advent wreaths, card writing, daily prayer, Advent calendars or other particular traditions. Visit the Advent Enrichment page on the Parish website each week.
Our Parishes Transition Team has also been thinking about the longings for the future of our parishes. The team is planning for the implementation of our new representative parish council and of the new minsitry of parish life teams. We will enter into a formal period of discernment and appointment to these ministries in the new year. In the meantime some of our team members, Cathy Jenkins, Madeleine Jones and Trac Nguyen have prepared an Advent prayer that will be used in our liturgies throughout the Advent season. The prayer asks that God awaken our hearts to the gifts of leadership that exist across our parishes. You are invited to think and pray about what leadership we need in our new council and in our new parish life teams. Who is being called to this kind of leadership in our communities? For more detail about these new roles visit Building Stronger Partnership for Mission on our website.
So Advent is the season of longing, hoping and renewing. It is the season when we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Lord once more.
We can begin right now by praying our Advent prayer for leadership.
As we watch, wait, long and hope,
Awaken our hearts to your presence in our community
Inspire hearts for leadership
Give us discerning hearts as we continue our journey of being parish together.
We ask this in the name of Emmanuel – God-with-us.
By Fr Brendan Reed