To: Clergy and People
From: The Bishop
20th November, 2020
“Christ our king, make you faithful and strong to do his will, that you may reign with him in glory.”
As we begin this season of Advent I invite you to join me in a short reflection on Luke 21: 25-36. This passage presents to us cosmic upheavals and activity, natural disasters, conflict and wars between nations and peoples. This may lead you to ask. Are we really preparing for the Birth of Christ? The coming of Christ?
The lesson gives us a picture of the circumstances of the Christian community Luke the gospel writer is addressing. It is believed that the community is also wrestling with the question of time or timing. They were wrestling with the question as to when the promised return of Jesus and the end of the world/history will occur. Unlike other gospel writers Luke does not give any hint, clues or signs as to when Jesus will return, rather, Luke states that, just as budding fig leaves signals the arrival of summer, so also will the signs of the coming kingdom be transparent to the Christian community. For Luke what is important is not when the end will come, nor when Our Lord will return, it is whether as disciples of Christ, we have the proper disposition, attitude and characteristics to · receive him when he comes.
‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness. and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the .strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’ (Luke 21:34-36) ‘
We are called to be alert, ready for the coming of the’end and not be caught up in either the excessive pleasures or worries of the day, but rather remain watchful. At the same time, as disciples of Christ we are to be confident, and eager for the events Jesus describes for they signal the approach of the deliverance of the Christian community. The coming of the Son of Man will therefore be threatening to the powers that be, but it will bring release from oppression forth followers of Christ.
In the Acts of the Apostles we read of s.everal challenges which the Church faced. These lead to rumors about the coming end, in the face of this Luke exhorts the early Christian Community to remain steadfast in its ministry, and discipleship, trusting that Jesus will provide the necessary words and inspiration so that the Christian community may witness to the gospel through word, deed, and prayer in any and all situations.
In your life and my life we have had experiences of waiting for an event, activity and occasion to come. This may have been a joyful occasion, a sad moment, an anxious time. On a personal level waiting for the results of a medical test or procedure. Waiting for a son or daughter whom you have not seen or heard from, for over twenty years. Waiting at the airport on a delayed flight. Waiting as a storm or hurricane approaches. Waiting to see what will eventually happen with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever the case, we know the challenge of waiting, the stress of waiting, the anxiety of waiting.
For Luke while he is aware that it will not remove our waiting, he offers us an approach which may/can affect the character of our waiting. Presently, we live between Pentecost and Christ’s return, his second coming. We do so with the faith and knowledge that Christ’s life, ministry, passion, crucifixion, death and burial and resurrection is the means through which God has delivered us from the powers of darkness, sin and death, and as Paul states in the book of Romans 8: 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from he love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Therefore, we are free to struggle, to wait, to work, to witness– indeed to live and die– with hope because we know the end of the story.
Romans 14: 8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
In life we struggle and endeavor to maintain peace and calm and to live a stress free life, so that we may have a long and happy existence. Therefore, we do not speak the truth in love, nor stand up for Jesus and the principles of the Kingdom of God. We fear that doing so may cause ·some people to isolate us or no longer be our friends and life may be somewhat uneasy. However, we must recognize that we·have no control over our lives. Yes, it is important for us to live good and healthy lives and to take good care of ourselves and to create genuine and long lasting relationships. The point is, there is no guarantee that if we· don’t stand up for the principles of the Kingdom of God that we’ll save our lives, maintain good health or preserve our relationships. There was a young man thirty-five years old, he looked and felt healthy and strong, he went to do his annual medicals and it was diagnosed that he had cancer, one year later he passed. So in the twinkling of an eye, death stares us in the face. We·have no control over our lives, whether we live to a grand old age or not.
The most important thing for us as disciples of Christ is not when Christ will return, or what will happen before He returns. What matters is, will we have the proper disposition, attitude and characteristics to receive Him when He comes.
What is important in our daily lives as we interact with others and seek to resolve conflicts, misunderstandings and disputes is not which side wins or loses, rather it is whether as. a people, we act in the best interest and well-being of our society, and whether our disposition, attitude and characteristics are in keeping with the principles of the Kingdom of God.
The Good news is that Our Ldrd is merciful and compassionate, so while we await his coming we have the opportunity to repent of our sins, to seek pardon and forgiveness and to walk in newness of life. Our hope is in God. This Advent and beyond, may we remain steadfast in our faith, and trust in God through all the changing scenes of life.
‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 351ike a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’ (Luke 21:34-36}
“Christ the Son of Righteousness shine upon you and scatter the darkness from before your path.”
The 29th November, 2020 is Advent Sunday as we begin the new Church year. As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic, this year in the Archdeaconry of St. Vincent and the Grenadines we’ll not have the joint service at the Arnos Vale Playing Field as we are accustomed to. We’ll worship in our respective home church this year. I know we all look forward to this service at the Arnos Vale Playing Field sorry to disappoint you this year, God willing next year we’ll assemble once more for our joint service.
Jesus says, “Surely I am coming soon! Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)
Fellowship of St. John
The Rev’d Fr. Charles Card-Reynolds, Bishop of the Windward Islands’ Commissary in England has kindly consented to hold a Zoom meeting to share information on the work of the Fellowship of St. John. All Clergy are invited to participate along with representatives of PCC’s, Church Schools and Church Organisations. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 2nd December 2020 at 5:00pm.Those who are attending are kindly asked to email Fr. Charles Card-Reynolds using this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org and he will send you the Zoom link on the 2nd of December, 2020.
He will start admitting people to Zoom at 4.50pm. He anticipates that the meeting would last about 45 mins depending on questions.
Information ahead of the meeting can e found at www.fsje.org.uk ·
• Opening prayer, Introduction to the work of the Fellowship of St John
• The support that it can give, including examples from the Diocese of the Windward Islands ·
• How to apply
• Any questions
With every good wish and God’s blessings
The Rt. Rev’d C. Leopold Friday
Bishop of the Windward Islands