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Vicar's Musings for Advent 3

16 December, 2018

Today is Gaudete Sunday, so-called from the opening of the traditional Introit for the third Sunday of Advent: Gaudete in Domino semper "rejoice in the Lord always" from St Paul's letter to the Philippians 4:4. It is a day to rejoice, but also to remember that we are still in the penitential season of Advent. It is a foretaste of the great Feast of the Nativity that will soon be upon us. As one blog I read this week puts it, Gaudete Sunday is a day of "subdued joy and encouragement for our continuance of Advent."

It is a good message, as the weeks leading up to Christmas can be a particularly stressful time. Deadlines are set for the end of the year. "Christmas" parties abound in Advent, and over indulgence of alcohol — that flows with abundance at this time of year — can add significantly to the stress. Sadly domestic violence is one of the indicators. Police and emergency services prepare for a spike in call outs to homes. Since the first Sunday of Advent another three women have been killed through domestic violence, bringing the total this year to sixty-six.

As church-goers we are by no means immune from this seasonal stress. The Body of Christ is a group of people, with clay feet and human frailties like everyone else. On Gaudete Sunday it is fitting to intentionally set aside our anxieties, and the stresses of the end-of-year pre-Christmas rush: to pause, to pray, to place our concerns before God. It is a good discipline to remind ourselves of God's grace, to give thanks for God's mercies over recent days, weeks and months. Perhaps today there is someone I need to forgive, or at least take steps towards putting things right with someone I have hurt, or someone who has hurt me.

A particular expression of "subdued joy" this Gaudete Sunday is our thanksgiving for the life of the Rev'd Dr Colin Peter Holden (19th October 1951 – 12th July 2016). Fr Colin was a beloved priest of the parish for many years, who wrote a substantive history of our church as part of the sesquicentenary celebrations: From Tories at Prayer to Socialists at Mass: St Peter's, Eastern Hill, Melburne 1846-1990 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1996). At the end of High Mass today there will be a deposition of Fr Colin's ashes in the crypt beneath the High Altar, and the blessing of a memorial plaque. After Mass there will be a little party in the Parish Hall, in good decorous Advent fashion. All are warmly invited. May he rest in peace ... and rise in glory!

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

Illustration for Advent 3 Musings

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