St George the Martyr, Goodwood
WE HAVE NOW ENTERED ADVENT, THE START OF THE CHURCH’S YEAR. The important thing to grasp is that Advent is a time of preparation, a precious time leading to Christmas but not yet Christmas itself. Our Advent journeying is unlike that of Lent. We are not so much wrestling with demons as with images of abundance, lavish promises, theology we can almost grasp.
Advent begins quietly, almost stealthily, with a call to stay awake and alert and prepare for the coming of the Lord. We are simply clay, to be fashioned anew by the Potter into the shape most pleasing to him. The emphasis is not on our doing but on God’s. That gives to the Advent season a wonderful freedom and joy. We welcome the silence, the mystery, the quiet pondering of scripture. Become, in the best sense, a child again, filled with wonder and awe at what is unfolding before our eyes. With the humility of Mary, the fidelity of Joseph and the joy of John the Baptist, let us prepare in our hearts a place for the Lord.
There are many distinct customs for Advent. We light the Advent Wreath each Sunday, each candle symbolising those who pointed the way to the coming of Christ: the patriarchs, the prophets, John the Baptist and finally Mary. The colour of the vestments is either purple, or the English use of blue. Blue is far rarer, but you can guess what we use here at St George’s. We also have a special mid Advent Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, from the opening words in Latin of the antiphon of the day, Rejoice. As such it marks the halfway point of Advent, and we use the rose or pink vestments to rejoice. Another special mass is the Rorate, or Golden Mass, for Mary, when the mass is said only with candlelight: we have it on the first Saturday of the month of December. The first Saturday has always been a special day dedicated to Mary. Our Lady at Fatima especially commended this observance, but its observance goes back centuries: in one old English book it was said that Saturday is especially Mary’s day, because on Friday all the disciples fled, and only Mary remained faithful on the Saturday, the day before the Resurrection, and therefore this day is special to her.
Our garden also rejoices in purple for this season, with the jacarandas in full bloom as we start, the agapanthus, the artichokes in the garden and we also have a small tree called a South African Daphne, which I love for its small pom-pom flowers.
We will have our usual services for Christmas, unless new restrictions are brought in. The children’s service will be on Christmas Eve, Thursday 24 December at 6 pm, the midnight mass at 11 pm, and one mass on Christmas Day at 9 am. The midnight mass always finishes with the beautiful carol Silent Night, sung by candlelight.
New Year’s Eve
We have a short mass every year for New Year’s Eve, to reflect upon the year past and pray for the year ahead. This year it will also be a mass for the time of pandemic, to allow us to reflect on this hard year, when so much has changed.
The restrictions have changed again. We had the lock down for three days, and once more the church was closed: but the mass went on with its daily intercessions. At the moment the Archbishop has asked that we do not have congregational singing to minimise the risks. So only the choir is singing at 10 am, again. Hopefully the Archbishop will lift this restriction before Christmas. However, we have a large church and we do not anticipate having any problem with too many people attending over Christmas.
We will have our belated vestry meeting to approve our budget for next year, and the AGMs of our different associations, the Coulthard and and the Education Association, on Sunday, 20 December, after the 10 am mass.
The Prayer from the New Year Eve
To finish off, I include the collect for New Year Eve.
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose years never fail and whose mercies are new each returning day: let the radiance of your Spirit renew our lives, warming our hearts and giving light to our minds; that we may pass the coming year in joyful obedience and firm faith; through him who is the beginning and the end, your Son, Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
8.00 am Mass
10.00 am Solemn Sung Mass
Monday Fr Scott’s Day Off
Tuesday 10.00 am Mass,
followed by gardening
Wednesday 8.00 am Mass
Thursday 12 noon Mass
7.30 pm Chant Group
Friday 8.00 am Mass
Saturday 8.00 am Mass
6 pm Thursday 24 December
Starting 11 pm 24 December
Solemn Sung Mass
9 am Friday 25 December
New Year’s Eve
5 pm Friday 31 December
1 Charles de Foucauld, Hermit, Servant of the Poor, 1916
2 Frances Perry, Founder of Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, 1892
2 Channing Moore Williams, Anglican Missionary Bishop to China and Japan, 1910
3 Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, missionary, 1552
4 John of Damascus, Monk, Teacher of the Faith, c749
4 Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, Founder of the Little Gidding Community, 1637
5 The Rorate, or Golden Mass for the BVM
6 ADVENT 2
6 Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c326
7 Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher of the Faith, 397
8 The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8 Richard Baxter, Pastor and Spiritual Writer, 1691
13 ADVENT 3
13 LUCY, MARTYR AT SYRACUSE, 304
13 Samuel Johnson, Moralist, 1784
14 John of the Cross, Poet, Teacher of the Faith, 1591
16 Ember Wednesday
17 O Sapientia
17 Eglantine Jebb, Social Reformer, Founder of “Save the Children”, 1928
18 Ember Friday
19 Ember Saturday
20 ADVENT 4
21 THOMAS, APOSTLE AND MARTYR
25 THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD; CHRISTMAS DAY
26 STEPHEN, DEACON AND FIRST MARTYR
27 JOHN, APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST
28 HOLY INNOCENTS
29 Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1170
30 Josephine Butler, Social Reformer, 1905
31 John Wyclif, Reformer, 1384