News for Sunday 12th December: Gaudete Sunday

News from St Mary the Virgin, Kenton on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th December 2021: The Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday

Rejoice! This is Gaudete Sunday, which gets its name from the Entrance Antiphon that you will find on this Sunday's Readings: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” This verse is taken from St. Paul's letter to the Philippeans (4 v 4-5). The word Gaudete in Latin translates to “Rejoice” and we certainly have something to “rejoice about” – the forthcoming celebration of the birth of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

This weekend the celebrant at Mass will be wearing “Rose” coloured vestments. These too are telling us to “rejoice” – to be joyful as we look forward to Christmas. A glimmer of hope amongst the “purpleness” of Advent. And whilst Christmas is a time of celebration as we recall that first Nativity when God sent his Son to Earth for us; many of us will be tinged with sadness for those who are no longer with us and will be sadly missed. But we look to the Good News from John's Gospel: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

There's not much we can rejoice about on the “Covid” front, with the reintroduction of face masks in indoor settings. Mask-wearing in church has become mandatory until further notice (unless an individual falls into an exempt category, such as a child under 11 or someone with a physical or mental illness or impairment or disability). Masks may legally be removed once in church, however, if leading a service or reading. There is also some ambiguity regarding the removal of face coverings “when it is reasonably necessary to sing”. Obviously, all our usual routines of recording the names of those attending services, hand sanitising, ventilation, and social distancing will be maintained. The Church continues to be sanitised every Saturday in accordance with our Risk Assessment.

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, leads the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group. She has said: “Few of us imagined when we first heard of the coronavirus at the beginning of last year that we would now be approaching our second Christmas of a global pandemic.The recent emergence of the new Omicron variant and the evidence already we’ve seen of its rapid spread is a cause of real concern. And while we are hugely thankful for the rapid development and mass rollout of the vaccines — and the current booster programme — there are important steps we should take now to protect ourselves and each another. As Christians we have a duty to care for one another, especially those who are most vulnerable, and the latest measures announced by the Government should offer some extra protection and reassurance for people. This Christmas we will be coming together — whether in person or online — to worship God and celebrate his coming into the world as a human being like us. Amid all that we have been through together in the last two years, that hope is as strong as ever.”

If you'd like some cheerful news, Margaret Davies reports on nine Iranian men who appeared in the ACAT Greetings card list. They had been imprisoned because of their Christian faith. It would appear that the Iranian Supreme Court has now ruled that the promotion of Christianity is not a crime and as a result, the nine men may be re-tried. This may not mean that they will automatically be released but it is encouraging. They still need our cards and prayers, but like the rose vestments, they shine as a glint of light in the darkness.

There is an ever-increasing sense of anticipation and we know that Christmas will soon be here. But remember that we can receive Him NOW, in the Blessed Sacrament, at the First Mass of Sunday on Saturday 11th December at 6.00pm and on Sunday 12th December at 10.30am.

The annual Christmas Concert by Stanmore Choral Society will be taking place in Church on Sunday afternoon at 3.30pm. Tickets available on the door: Adults £10 Children are free. All are welcome.

“Rejoice in the Lord, always; and again I say, rejoice!”

David Griffiths