Look Busy!

Advent Sunday

St Mary’s Whitby

There’s a bumper bar sticker I saw somewhere that says, Jesus is coming, look busy!

That is a great metaphor for this time of year isn’t it? In some ways we don’t have to pretend to be busy because with our southern hemisphere end of year coinciding with the Christmas season, most of us have no choice but to be busy. Very busy. I don’t know about you, but I always have to take a deep breath when I start putting all the November and December things into the calendar. There are end of year concerts and performances, school prize-givings and breakups, work dos, lunches and morning teas and afternoon teas and drinks and suppers for all the groups we belong to. No, we don’t have to just look busy, many of us are way too busy already.

We can try and make it easier – I try and count up how many plates I will need to produce over the next few weeks, and do a big batch of vanilla truffles to keep in the freezer, ready to hand out to the next child who says , oh mum, I forgot to tell you, there’s a shared morning tea today. Continue reading

Wind in the branches

It’s Advent! Our family always has a real tree, so yesterday we headed up to our local school where we had permission to take a wilding pine. We found our perfect tree, and between four kids and myself, we cut it down, plus a couple of smaller ones for the kids’ bedrooms – yes I know it’ll make a mess but the smell is glorious!

When my son and I were carrying our tree home, we heard a strange noise, like wind rushing through the trees, but it was coming, not from the distant treetops, but from the tree over our shoulders! It was really weird hearing the wind in the branches we were carrying!

I got to thinking – the Holy Spirit is like that, isn’t it? We can notice the Holy Spirit’s movements and actions when they are a bit distant from us, we can rejoice at healings and answered prayers, but how easy it is to miss the very work of the Spirit in our own lives! So often we don’t recognise what the Spirit is doing for us, because we’re so busy and distracted, and sometimes we’re just not looking for it.

Be surprised this Advent! Notice the wind in your Christmas tree – notice God’s Holy Spirit near you, in your living room, spicing up your life!

Sermon: Advent 2013

Advent sermon

Readings:  Isa 2:1-5  Matt 24:36-44

Advent was always my favourite time of year as a girl growing up in the Anglican church. For a start, we had a change from the plain green of trinity, or ordinary time. It seemed so tiresome by the end of it! Now, we had purple – my favourite colour – for altar frontals and stoles, and the change of colour seemed to signify that something new was happening. Colour-coding is a strength of the Anglican Church!

And then there was the music. I used to sing in our church choir, and from mid-October we would be practising for the Advent Carol service. The familiar carols would be greeted like old and dear friends. I still love the austere beauty of ‘O come O come Emmanuel’, and ‘This is the truth sent from above’, as well as more obscure pieces like ‘This is the record of John’. It helped that my whole family was musical, and we would sing through the carol books in preparation for Christmas. Continue reading

Sylvia’s Advent.

Reverend Felicity O’Brien

Sylvia’s Advent.

Sylvia sat in her usual pew in church – about three quarters of the way down the left hand side, and she listened to the children around her getting all excited about Christmas. She saw the frazzled faces of their parents, who frankly looked like the last thing they needed was to add the Children’s nativity play into their schedule, and she pondered about how she fitted in.

There seemed to be such a lot of hustle and bustle this year – the letterbox was overflowing with adds for things no one Continue reading

Sermon for Advent

Sermon  Dec 9 2012

Rev Felicity O’Brien

Advent. It’s such a complex time of year. There are all the preparations for end-of-year do’s – bring a plate everywhere you go. There are requests for donations to Childrens’ charities  – bring a wrapped present with the age of the recipient. There are food bank appeals – bring a tin of something. There are invitations to drinks – bring a bottle.

It gets very busy as with end of year functions as well as preparing for Christmas festivities. One phase of life is ending as the school year finishes, but there is no time to acknowledge and give thanks for all that has gone, and to pray for the next journey, because there is no stillness to reflect amid all the busyness. Or so it can seem. Continue reading

Advent reflection for the Association of Anglican Women

Reflection for AAW advent service Dec 3 2012 St Peter’s Linden.

Rev. Felicity O’Brien

There is a time when the story begins, the story of God’s plan to send himself to earth. Therefore there is a time before it begins, when it is coming but not yet here, and this is the time Mary was in when Gabriel came to her. It is Advent: the time just before the adventure begins, when everybody is leaning forward to hear what will happen even though they already know what will happen and what will not happen, when they listen hard for meaning, their meaning, and begin to hear, only faintly at first, the beating of unseen wings Continue reading

Red and green for Christmas

This morning I was preparing to lead our Association of Anglican Women’s Advent service. I printed my sermon, put the service sheets in my bag, and opened my wardrobe to get my purple advent stole. As I put the stole in with my alb, I removed the other two stoles that  were there, as they won’t be needed for a while, and I put them on a coat hanger.

They were my red stole for the Holy Spirit, which I wore at last week’s ordination service, and my green Trinity, or Ordinary time, stole, which I have been using for months in our services.

I got to thinking -these two gleaming silk stoles – red and green – suddenly looked like a Christmas decoration as they intertwined.Maybe the red and green of Christmas, rather than referring to Santa’s little helpers at the North Pole, could mean that Christmas is a combination of the Holy Spirit and our ordinary lives! The green is for the commonplace, the day-to-day stuff of life. The red is for the contrasting, changing power of the Holy Spirit.

And as we put them together, we can pause and contemplate – this Christmas, are we celebrating the effect of the holy Spirit on our ordinary lives?