Sunday, December 30, 2007

The First Sunday After Christmas Day

This morning Lake Murray was once again holding only one service at 10:00, rather than two services at 9:00 and 10:45 AM. The sanctuary was standing-room only; although some families were out-of-town, others brought relatives staying with them over the Holy Days, so we were packed. The music was a mixture of praise songs and hymns -- a very nice change from the exclusive diet of praise songs we usually get in second service. Plus, with both services together, crowded though it was, we were able to see people from the other service and enjoyed chatting with a slightly different group of people than usual. I tore myself away with more difficulty than usual.

In the Anglican tradition, today is the Sixth Day of Christmas and the First Sunday After Christmas Day. The Collect for today's Christmas celebration is the same one we prayed for on Christmas Day and for all the Twelve Days of Christmas following:

Almighty God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle reading is found in the fourth chapter of St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians, starting in the first verse and proceeding to the end of the seventh verse.

The Gospel is written in the first chapter of the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, starting in the eighteenth verse:

The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

So, as of today, we are halfway through Christmastide and are looking forward to the Twelfth Night Party at Victoria House next Saturday evening when we shall burn the greenery and also welcome in the season of Epiphany. The Anglicans also hold special services the morning of January 1 to celebrate the Circumcision of Christ -- according to Jewish law, eight days after a birth came the circumcision of the male child, and Jesus Himself was no exception. Getting up that early on New Years Day is always problematic for me, so I doubt I will attend that service, but I will be at Victoria Chapel on Friday to celebrate the 11th Day of Christmas with our usual Friday Morning Prayer and Chapel service and then back on Saturday evening for the Twelfth Night Party. Christmastide certainly is a time of remembrance and celebration!

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