Welcome All Wonders!

Welcome all wonders in one sight.  

Eternity shut in a span!  

Summer in winter, day in night, heaven in earth, and God in man.  

Great little one! Whose lowly birth lifts earth to heav’n, stoops heav’n to earth. 


The words of the English poet Richard Crashaw bid us to open our hearts to the beauty and wonder of God’s great love for us known because of Christmas. The incredible news is that when we can’t seem to get to God, God gets to us. Christ is Emmanuel, God with us. And this is news worth pondering and embracing for the next 12 Days of Christmas, and indeed in the New Year we also welcome.  


Tomorrow, in the candlelit beauty of our historic church, with music and flowers and words that touch the deep places of our lives, we are assured that earth is lifted to heaven, because heaven has come to us. The joy-filled energy and Holy Commotion of our Children’s Christmas Pageant also assures us of this message. Perhaps that is why Christmas services draw you and so many to this holy place year after year. Perhaps that is why so many people have told me through the years that these services speak to them the most. You and I need this message of hope and love. Our world needs this message of peace and unity. All need the beauty and wonder offered to us at Christmas. And so,with awe and wonder let us come and worship our God Incarnate.  


But with awe and wonder, let us welcome love into our lives each and every day. For this is the point of Christmas. I hope to see you at one of our wonder-filled Christmastide services where we will joyfully worship in the beauty of holiness and the excitement of those young and young at heart, where in our historic church, God’s people have now worshipped for 250 years. May your heart and the hearts of those you love be lifted this Christmas. Blessings, joy and peace to all. Hodie, hodie, Christus natus est! Today, today, Christ is born! Alleluia!  


Pax,

Andy+

On the eve of the Winter Solstice, God’s creation lets us know that the light always overcomes the darkness in the world around. And this means that it is almost Christmas with God’s message of light, hope and peace for us! On Christmas Eve we will proclaim that God’s light of love and life we know in Jesus shines into the darkness of our lives and world. And we will hear that great proclamation from the Prophet Isaiah, The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. 


The Falls Church Episcopal will be ablaze with light and beauty like no other time we gather. It’s cold and dark outside; it can be cold and dark in our lives, but we have seen a great light, and on us and our world that light always shines. Always! Ever!  


The Christmas story captured so beautifully in Luke’s Gospel finds its meaning in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, also read during Christmas. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. …And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory…


Christmas lights that sparkle all around this time of year point to the light and life of God in Christ that brings life to all people. And so we who have beheld God’s incarnation in the birth of Jesus and celebrate that birth, not only at Christmas but in our lives and world every day, put up Christmas lights and light candles, piercing the darkness. Our lives, too, can pierce the darkness with love. 


Did you notice during the season of Advent how the light kept getting brighter and brighter each Sunday until finally, on Christmas, the Christ Candle with its bright light is added. In my former Parish Church of the Nativity in Huntsville, there is a 20 foot tall Christmas Tree in the church covered in white lights that is lit on Christmas Eve (anyone see a pair of these in the Main Sanctuary in the future!?). The Nativity Christmas tree is really crooked and so out of shape and misshapen. It is so charming, but if I think about it, it is so real. This is the way the live Christmas tree always looks in the Anderson home. There are usually gaps in its fullness. We have to turn it until we get its best side, but it’s never really symmetrical. It does not have that perfect shape that many “fake” Christmas trees display.  


Thinking about it, this is the way it is with our real lives—and not only with our physical bodies, but with our spiritual lives. Our lives are misshapen and often even unbalanced. We do not have that perfect shape that we often wish we had or that the market economy says we must have. We have our faults and our sins and shortcomings. But thinking about the Christmas trees we decorate with beauty and lights, the lights shining on these trees shine through the gaps and diminish the faults. I love our Christmas tree best at night when the shining lights transform it beautifully. The lights make it even splendid. 


This Christmas, may we know that the light of Christ shining into our lives allows us to reflect a far greater beauty. Whatever darkness you may be feeling or you have known, allow God’s perfect love and light in Christ pierce that darkness. Know that the greatest message of Christmastide is that we have seen a great light and that light always shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. God’s light is shining on and through your life. And it is beautiful. Know that you are a splendid vessel of grace and of light.  


What joy and mirth we can claim and celebrate at Christmas! I pray for God’s light and life in Christ to keep shining through you and through our life and ministry together at The Falls Church Episcopal. Wishing all a happy, blessed and joyful Christmas and blessings in the New Year of much light, love and peace.  


Pax,

Andy+

And we shall rejoice indeed this Sunday celebrating the 250th Anniversary of our worshipping in the Historic Church! And what better day to do this than on the day the Church calls Gaudete Sunday. The Third Sunday of Advent is known for joy and rejoicing and hence the Latin word gaudete which means rejoice. Setting this Sunday apart from the other Sundays of Advent, the candle on the Advent Wreath is pink (actually rose), which is one of the colors for particular Sundays when rejoicing was important. Some parishes use rose vestments and hangings. 


The New Testament Reading for the Third Sunday of Advent in the ancient church lectionary/calendar of readings is Philippians 4:4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (This is now the New Testament Reading for Advent 3, Year C on the 3-year cycle). 


This Sunday is a day for rejoicing as we move closer to the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. The candle is also called The Shepherds’ Candle, because of the joy they found greeting the Christ Child in the stable at Bethlehem after the angels announced tidings of great joy. In former times, Advent was also a season of penitence (which it is not so much now as one of hope, wonder, waiting, and expectation), and Gaudete Sunday was a day to rejoice that Advent was halfway over!  


The Falls Church Episcopal is a joyful community of God’s people, not only on this 3rd Sunday of Advent, but always…taking to heart Paul’s advice to the Church at Philippi to “rejoice in the Lord always.” There is so much joy and love known and celebrated here. We see it on each other’s faces when we gather at the Eucharist; we see it in our numerous children when they assemble for and return from Children’s Chapel; we see it and feel it at the Peace and at Coffee Hour! And we will see it and know it anew this Sunday when over 350 of us gather to celebrate God’s life in Christ we have received from and known through this place of worship and mission for over 250 years.  


We are a people of joy and rejoicing. Our gentleness and kindness is known near and far. We are a people who give thanks and make prayers and do not worry and fret. Here, if anywhere, the peace of Christ guards our hearts and minds. And so, we not only celebrate a faithful past, we look forward to and celebrate a bright future of what God will yet do. And on this Sunday, today, now, let us rejoice! Thanks be to God.


Pax,

Andy+

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The Falls Church 115 East Fairfax Street, Falls Church, VA 22046

Tel: 703-241-0003  |  Fax: 703-532-3321  |  info@thefallschurch.org

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