St. Mary-the-Virgin, News for Sunday 15th December 2019: Rejoice in the Lord always.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” This is the entrance antiphon for this Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, which is also known as Gaudete Sunday (translated from the Latin, meaning “Rejoice” as our Entrance Antiphon begins and proclaims in our Sunday readings). There is a change in our anticipation as rose pink vestments are worn for Mass and the pink candle is lit on the Advent Crown. We don’t tend to use the word ‘rejoice’ very often in our day-to-day language, but we do sing it quite a lot in one of our favourite Advent hymns:
O come, O come Emmanuel
Redeem thy captive Israel,
That into exile drear is gone
Far from the face of God’s dear Son:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.
The hymn also refers to the “O Antiphons” which can be heard at Vespers in the last seven days of Advent:
- 17 December: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
- 18 December: O Adonai (O Lord)
- 19 December: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
- 20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
- 21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
- 22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
- 23 December: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)
Each antiphon is a name attributed to Christ in the Scriptures. But do we focus too much on the rejoicing, and overlook the second part of Sunday’s Entrance Antiphon: “The Lord is near.” What have we done to prepare ourselves for his coming?
Perhaps we are starting to get into the pre-Christmas build up with office parties; or shopping for presents; end of term events at school; nativity plays and sending Christmas cards. After Mass this Sunday you have TWO opportunities to occupy your late afternoon or early evening: Stanmore Choral Society are presenting their Christmas Concert and Carols at 3.00pm – 5.00pm at St Mary’s. Alternatively (or in addition!), you may like to attend the Kenton Group of Churches Carols by Candlelight at St Anselm’s Belmont at 6.00pm. If you enjoy singing carols, then you will be welcome to come along to the upstairs concourse at Harrow on the Hill Station on Wednesday 18th from 5.00pm – 7.00pm to join the “ad hoc” choir raising money and raising awareness for Bereavement Care.
And in amongst all our excitement as we prepare for Christmas, please spare a thought (and your prayers) for those unjustly imprisoned: people like Nguyen Trung Ton – a Christian Pastor in Vietnam – for whom Jesus himself was sent from God: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has annointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” (Luke 4 v.18).
Rejoice – for the Lord is near!