St. Francis – Gary Kester

     Sunday, December 23 was the Fourth Sunday in Advent and the last Sunday in this season.  Altar & vestment colors are back to dark blue and the fourth candle is lighted on the Advent Wreath.  This is known as the angels’ candle in honor of the angels who heralded Christ’s birth, and also the candle of joy in anticipation of the joy of Christmas; the preparation is almost over. 

In the Epistle for the day, Philippians 4:4, St. Paul exhorts us to “Rejoice in the Lord always…the Lord is at hand.” It is time to concentrate on what is important in our lives. The Gospel for the day, St. John 1:19, is the record of John the Baptist who announces that “one is coming after me who is preferred before me” that is, Jesus.  In the Old Testament lesson from Jeremiah the prophet deals with his people’s loss of faith & tells them that God will restore His people, meaning through Christ. God will restore us if we do our part. 

In prayer time, Bishop Hartley said the birthday prayer for Natalie Berthold whose birthday is December 26.

On Christmas Eve we held our traditional service and the ladies of the altar guild outdid themselves in decorating the altar & nave with evergreens, red ribbons, and red poinsettias on the altar, and evergreens, holly & ivy on the Advent Wreath. After the austerity of Advent, the church is alive with light & color.  We began the service by singing a group of traditional carols with Kip Smith at the organ, then had Holy Communion. We were glad to have home with us Natalie and Laura Berthold from College of the Ozarks where Laura has just graduated and is making plans for the future. We also had with us the Connell brothers home from their military careers, Chandler with the Marines in Quantico, and Lincoln from the Army in Fort Benning, Georgia.  We had a joyous and deeply moving service enjoyed by all.