Advent and Christmas at St. Mark's

Restoration and Renewal

by The Rev Beth Knowlton on November 17, 2021

“Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”   - Collect for the Last Sunday After Pentecost 
 
As I talk to people in the day-to-day rhythms of my life, it is clear that many people are still feeling depleted and tired after the challenges of the past few years. It is always challenging to feel that way, and probably all the more so when we are looking to the uptick in activities that accompany the holidays.  
 
Into that space enters the church calendar.  
 
This coming Sunday is the last Sunday of the liturgical year; the following Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the horizon as evidenced by the return of the ice skating rink and the HEB Christmas tree to Travis park this week. 

We have many wonderful community events scheduled in the next weeks. Please do take a moment to look at the Advent/Christmas page on the website. There is something for everyone whether you have a passion for outreach, want to sing on a river barge, or need some space for quiet and reflection. 
 
Advent always feels a bit counter cultural. It invites quiet and reflection alongside of anticipatory joy and a hope for the second coming of Christ. Rather than feeling that as mixed messaging or confusing, I find it comforting. We carry the fullness of our lives, and part of faithful living is not to expect it to be neatly packaged, but to continue to offer to God our desire for restoration. I may sometimes struggle with the timeframe, but the discipline of offering all of my life for restoration and renewal reminds me that God desires that for me and all people. I shared a favorite poem with the vestry this week that is also included in the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer. It speaks to me of the space and time we are in. I pray its imagery is a gift to you as well. 

The Lake of Beauty by Edward Carpenter 

Let your mind be quiet, realizing the beauty of the world,
and the immense, the boundless treasures that it holds in store. 

All that you have within you, all that your heart desires, all that your Nature so
specially fits you for — that or the counterpart of it waits embedded in the great Whole, for you. It will surely come to you. 

Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time will it come. All your
crying and fever and reaching out of hands will make no difference.

Therefore do not begin that game at all.

Do not recklessly spill the waters of your mind in this direction and in that,
lest you become like a spring lost and dissipated in the desert.
But draw them together into a little compass, and hold them still, so still;
And let them become clear, so clear — so limpid, so mirror-like;
At last the mountains and the sky shall glass themselves in peaceful beauty,
And the antelope shall descend to drink, and to gaze at his reflected image, and
the lion to quench his thirst, 

And, Love himself shall come and bend over, and catch his own likeness in you. 

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