We had a glorious Christmas Eve service and Rita and the altar guild did an amazing job of decorating both the altar and the nave with Christmas colors of red and green, with poinsettias and evergreen on the altar; the Christ candle was lit symbolizing the entry of Christ into the world. We began by singing traditional carols with Kip Smith at the organ, then went on to the Christmas Eve service with communion. Sunday, December 31 was the first Sunday after Christmas. Bishop Hartley noted that for most of the world Christmas ends the day after, but in our English Christian tradition, Christmas is not a day, but a season, running the twelve days of Christmas through Epiphany. Our gospel lesson for the day, St. Matthew 1:18, “The birth of Christ was on this wise…”, tells us once again the story of Christ’s birth, to keep before us the birth of the savior for one more week. Bishop Hartley explained the Christian doctrine of the incarnation, the coming of God into physical flesh in the person of Jesus, and His birth is the first act of God in His earthly life. Because of Jesus we are heirs of God, and in the epistle for the day, Galatians 4:1, “…because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of His son into your hearts” St. Paul tells us of our place in God’s plan and he uses the inheritance laws to explain what he means. An heir is the same as a servant until he comes into his own, and in the fullness of time God sent His son so that we as heirs may take our place as God’s children. He goes on the explain that the birth of the savior to the Jews includes all mankind. The barrier between God and His people was broken by Christ, and through Him God established a new relationship between God and man.
On Christmas Day I was honored to be invited by the Connell family to share their Christmas dinner and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by Stephanie, and much visiting and fellowship afterwards. Chandler was home from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD., where he is in his final year, and Lincoln was home from Ft. Benning, GA., where he is a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. It was so good to see them again and find that they are doing well. Also attending from St. Francis were George and Rita Fancher.
For information on St. Francis Anglican (Traditional Episcopal) Church visit our website at stfrancisavamo.org.