Priest's Letter - December 2021
Christmas is upon us, unexpected just as it is every year. Perhaps we keep being surprised because it's hard for our minds to conceive a new start when we are bogged down by many worries - which is most of the time for most of us. We do, of course, hope and wish each other a new beginning every year. Sometimes out of habit. Often sincerely. But when we realize that things and people have not magically taken a turn we just accept the reality of "same old, same old". God, instead, is about real novelty. Meister Eckhart, a mystic of the 14th century, refused to call God "ancient". He preferred to use the Latin term novissimus which refers both to the eschatological end of history and to the adjective "new". Novissimus means: "The newest thing, so new that is yet to come". In fact, we are "same old" when our spiritual ears don't perk up and we do not perceive any more new possibilities for our life and for the life of the world. Advent, the month of December in preparation for Christmas, is not a time of celebration and festivities in our tradition precisely because we need time to train our spiritual ears and our mind muscles to accept that our feelings of doom are misplaced. Only then will we be ready for Christmas. Such feelings of doom are real to us. Besides, often things do come to their end. But, because God is always new, and God is present in all of reality, there is always the possibility of new beginnings. Our job as spiritual people is that of identifying such sprouts, no matter how small. As Christians, in particular, we contemplate on Christmas night, at the end of this time of preparation, the powerful actions of God in giving Jesus to us: a new fragile beginning in the body of a baby, the sprout of a new humanity given to our care. Nothing of this means that our plans for the future will be successful, no matter how "godly" they are or we perceive them to be. All of this means, however, that no matter how our plans go, God is present in our lives as the newest thing that has happened, or rather that is happening in this very moment. God is present among us and in us as a baby, in need of attention and care, and as the most precious gift.
As we are approaching the time to create a budget for 2022, we are all, of course, worried and anxious. But all we are asked to do is to do our best. The Vestry and I are engaged in exploring the most creative solutions for the future of the parish, and I believe that all the new ministries that we have started and are thriving, especially Rebecca's Garden and Spirit, Earth, Action ("the Center"), will show clearly to all what we can accomplish despite our financial difficulties.
I ask those of you who have not yet turned in your pledges to do so urgently because otherwise our treasurer is unable to create projections. I have sent about 500 letters to "friends of the parish", that is, people that for one reason or another have been connected to us in the past, asking them to consider a gift or a pledge for 2022, to be conceived as "bridge money" to help us move forward to our next stage. Also, this Christmas, please consider giving a Christmas gift to your fellow parishioners with a check marked for the Rector's Fund. This is the discretionary fund that I use discreetly to help those of you who happen to be in need of help. This year the fund has been almost depleted, partly because of the pandemic, which has cut certain sources of income for some people. Even a small amount helps. Your money will be turned into food cards or gas cards.
Because this year Christmas Day happens on a Saturday, and because it is unlikely that the whole congregation will be in church on December 25 (after the Night Mass on December 24), our schedule of services will be as follows:
Friday, December 24
8:00pm - First Mass of Christmas (Mass in the Night)
Saturday, December 25
10:00am Morning Prayer
4:00pm Evening Prayer
Sunday, December 26
10:00am High Mass (Mass of Christmas Day)
In other words, the "midnight Mass" will be celebrated at 8:00pm on December 24. Then you are very welcome to come to church also on December 25: there will be organ music and singing and a short homily, both at 10am and at 4pm. But we will celebrate the Mass of Christmas Day on Sunday December 26 at 10am (usual time).
A blessed Advent season to you and your dear ones,