"And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. “ --- Luke 21:27 (KJV)
As you all know, Advent is a season of preparation. It calls us to prepare ourselves for the remembrance of Christ's first coming into the world in his birth at Bethlehem and also for His final coming at the end of time.
With regard to the first, it seems worth asking ourselves how God prepared his people for that first coming. The obvious answer is that there were numerous prophecies of a Messiah who was to come, but that's not the whole story. He also gave them the concepts of Holy Scripture, written documents which were to be understood as divinely inspired, the necessity of sacrifice, and The Law, rules for living given by God to His people. All of these were preparations for Christ's Incarnation at Bethlehem, and all can be seen in some sense as having failed. After all, Jesus was rejected by both the religious leadership of Israel and the great majority of the people of Israel.
Prophecy failed because the promised Messiah was understood to be a nationalistic hero who would free Israel from Roman occupation and raise her above all other nations. Scripture failed because it was not properly understood, and The Law failed because it was seen by many of God's people as a means to earn salvation by minute and precise observance of increasingly specific and detailed rules about what was and was not lawful. And so the nation whom God had spent centuries preparing for the coming of Christ rejected Him, mocked Him, and had Him tortured and executed. It would seem that God's work of preparation had failed.
But of course it had not. The undeniable fact of Jesus' Resurrection opened eyes that had previously been blind, opened ears that had previously been deaf, and opened minds that had previously been closed. The disciples and many others, confronted with the experience of the living Christ, began to see the prophecies of the Messiah as a promise to free all nations from bondage to sin and death. They began to see in their Scripture truths about the nature of the Messiah that they had previously misunderstood. They began to recognize The Law as a way to show them their inability to achieve perfect righteousness and their need for a true Messiah, a Savior who was more than they had ever imagined.
So we can say that the Jews had largely failed to prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah, if by “failed” we mean “failed to understand what He would be.” Nevertheless, when God's hand was more fully revealed in the Resurrection, many of them did in fact begin to understand to a greater degree who He was and what God was doing in the world. This would not have happened without those centuries of preparation by God and many thousands of faithful Jews' earnest attempts to know and to do God's will for them.
I believe I see a valuable lesson here. God has been working with us Christians to prepare for his final coming at the end of time. Do we understand it fully? Do we know just what it will be? No, and the continuing theological controversies over The Second Coming make it abundantly clear that we do not. In fact, we cannot, because it will be by definition an event unlike anything in previous human experience. Our position with regard to Christ's final return to earth is closely analogous to that of the people of Israel before the Incarnation, awaiting the coming of the Messiah but not perfectly understanding what He would be or what His true mission was. We await and hope for His return, and find reassurance in the humble acknowledgement that our own lack of perfect understanding regarding it is, in the final analysis, irrelevant. Christ's return will come because God has promised it, and His promise is not dependent upon our understanding.
Do I wonder about the nature of that return, what and how and when it will be? Yes, I do, especially in this Advent season. But that wondering is untroubled by any fear of the consequences of my ignorance of those things, because the lesson that I see in all this is that preparing for Christ's return by attempting to live my life as He would have me do, regretting and repenting of my failures, giving thanks for the grace that I have received, and trusting in His promise is all that is required of me. God overcame the Jews' inadequate understanding of what the Messiah would be and blessed all of them who were willing to see His power and great glory in His Resurrection. I trust Him to overcome my inadequate understanding of what His Second Coming will be when He returns with power and great glory.
-- Father Bragg+
REMEMBER THE WORDS OF THE LORD JESUS, HOW HE SAID, IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE
Please click here to help St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland. Your support during Advent is needed and greatly appreciated.
Please note below Men's Breakfast this Saturday, new Caroling information, changes for Christmas Day Service, and also critical needs for Marih Crisis Pregnancy Center
Saturday, December 10, 8:30 AM, Men's Group, Breakfast & Bible Study, come enjoy a great breakfast, fellowship, and an interesting and thought provoking Bible study
Sunday Services, 7:45, 9:00 & 11:15 AM nursery care provided during 9 & 11:15 AM services (for online participation for the services go to: https://www.facebook.com/saintsofscotland/ )
Sunday, 10:30 AM, Sunday School
Wednesday at Noon – Holy Communion and anointing for healing
Saturday, December 17, Caroling in Del Ray -- We will meet at the church from 3:15-3:45 to drop off snacks, etc. for after caroling. Otherwise, plan to meet at the small park at the corner of Mt. Vernon Ave. and Oxford St. at 4:00 p.m. where we will serenade Del Ray’s passers-by. We will begin caroling through the neighborhood at 4:30, reaching the church at around 5:30. For any questions, please contact Clint Taylor at email@example.com. Please plan to join us!
Next Vestry Meeting – Monday, December 19, 7:30 PM . in the church undercroft.
Christmas Services: Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, at 7:00 PM and 11:00 PM
Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25, at 12 noon.
Donations to the Food Bank and Marih Center are greatly needed. Across the country, crisis pregnancy centers have been attacked or vandalized. The needs are great. Please help with either a goods donation or a monetary donation. You can give through the donation button in this newsletter and use the drop down menu to choose "Charity & Mercy." Thank you.
Please help this month with a food donation if you are able. Christ House is very thankful for the food we provide to them each month. Please also buy low sugar cereals (and not the kid's types that have lots of sugar). Current needs include the following:
• canned meats (chicken, corned beef, spam)
• peanut butter
• canned vegetables (corn, green beans - (regular and low sodium)
• individual fruit cups (low sugar)
• canned fruit (low sugar)
• cereal (low sugar)
• pasta (regular and gluten-free)
• instant potatoes
• Macaroni & cheese kits
• Coffee, cooking oil, flour, sugar
Updated List of Needs for MaRIH Center (crisis pregnancy center)
MaRIH Center with its all volunteer staff has been providing help to mothers-to-be and mothers in need. If you can provide some of the items that are needed, please do so. (You can leave the donations where the food for the food bank is collected on the pew in the undercorft.)
Baby wipes* (an ongoing great need)
Diapers (sizes 1*, 2, 3*, 4, 5*, & 6*)
Diaper rash ointment
(Bold and * are a critical need.)
Clothing for boys and girls (0-6 months)
Sleep Sacks: Girls 0-6 mos.
Socks: Boy/Girl 2T
Copyright © 2022 St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland
1607 Dewitt Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301-1625