Thursday, November 29, 2018

From Mother Vicki

Collect for the First Sunday in Advent
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, p. 211

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We begin a new liturgical year this Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent.  The secular world jumps ahead to Christmas as a time of gift-giving and getting that ends on Dec. 26.  In this season of Advent, the Church actually looks forward to Christ’s Second Coming through repentance and re-centering our lives on God’s love for us.  This precious time is a wonderful opportunity to “put on the armor of light” and allow that light to change and refocus every aspect of our lives.  And for us, Christmas is a Feast of Twelve Days, beginning on Dec. 25 and lasting through January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany.  In Advent, we are looking ahead and back at the same time, looking ahead to Christ’s coming again in “glorious majesty” and also recounting the narrative of Jesus’ birth.  And so, our present is full of the tension of new possibilities.

How do we choose to live our lives?  That is the big question.  I was very moved by The Rev. Canon Claudia Wilson’s beautiful article in the recent Episcopal New Yorker.  She has given us permission to include it below.  In this article she speaks of her uncle, and of the way in which he chose to give his tithes to God.  This relationship with our God is direct.  God knows whether or not we trust God with everything we have been given.  If we cannot trust God with our money, then we do not really trust God at all.

This Sunday is Stewardship Sunday, the opportunity to rethink our commitment and relationship with God for the year.  Please bring your pledge card and place it in the Offering Plate to be blessed.  This is your opportunity to lift up your time, talent and treasure to be transformed by the love of God in Christ.  May God bless you richly for the gift of your stewardship!

Advent blessings and love,

The Rev. Canon Victoria R. Sirota

“My Uncle Bill, my mother’s older brother, was a modest man, not given to tooting his own horn (although he did play the tenor saxophone as a young man). In in addition to being modest, he was also a man of faithfulness and generosity. He was faithful to God, to his wife (he and my Aunt Frances were married for 63 years); he was generous with his time, serving as an Elder in the Presbyterian Church, as a Sunday School teacher, and as a prison visitor. But there was one other thing my uncle did that sums up for me both his faithfulness and his generosity in a way that made him an example for me.

After my uncle died, by Cousin Marjorie, his only daughter, showed me a small tin box she had inherited from her father. The box had a slit in the top and a label that said “TITHE.” It seems that when my uncle was paid, or made any other money, he immediately put 10 percent of it in this box. It was money off the top, money my uncle believed belonged not to him but to God. On Sunday morning, he would unlock the box and take whatever was in it to church and put it in the collection plate. Sometimes there wasn’t very much in the box (my uncle was laid off twice during the Great Depression), but whatever was there went into the plate. Now I’m sure my uncle could have found other very good uses for that money. (At one point, he was the sole support of my aunt, my cousin, and my aunt’s patents). But there was no doubt in his mind that the money in that box had only one purpose: to contribute to the work of God in this world. However much my uncle might have needed that money, he believed that it was not his to use but God’s.

When my cousin died, she passed the box on to her eldest daughter, who also tithes. As far as I am concerned, that simple box, as modest as the man who owned it, is the most precious heirloom my family possesses.”

The Rev. Canon Claudia Wilson, Priest Associate, Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Getty Square, Yonkers NY, The Episcopal New Yorker

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