Around the Diocese of New Westminster, the sun was shining brightly on the morning of Advent I, the first day of the church new year, Sunday, November 27, 2022. The drive to Port Moody that morning was extremely pleasant due to the lack of other vehicles on the road, likely a result of the World Cup game taking place between Canada and Croatia. However, the congregation at St. John’s, Port Moody had not stayed home to watch soccer but had gathered at the church to Celebrate the Eucharist and to greet the bishop as he visited his parish for the first time in his episcopacy. Always nice to see a full church.
Worship began with the singing of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” followed by Bishop John gathering the community with Opening Prayers and then into the Lighting of the First Advent Candle, the Hope candle, by a younger member of the congregation, Ethan Stock. Ethan did a fine job with the lighting and in reading the accompanying text.
Following the liturgical recognition of Advent, the Eucharist continued, beginning with what was billed as an “All-Ages Chat” (often referred to as The Childrens’ Talk) with Bishop John seated on the chancel entrance stairs with Ethan and another younger member of the parish. The bishop spoke about Advent and then shared some information about his mitre and vestments and provided some insight about what a bishop does and how the diocesan family is connected.
In his sermon, Bishop John emphasized the theme of the lighting of the candle as a metaphor for Hope. The Hope that we all share for better things to come and in this case the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World. He also spoke about Advent as a time to slow down and reflect as opposed to the messaging of the contemporary world to get out and do things, mostly buy things. He said:
We have lit the first of the candles on our Advent wreath. This lighting, this candle, marks the start of the Church’s year, a visible symbol of the beginning of the season of Advent, a time of preparation and anticipation that once more Jesus will come to us, that Jesus will be with us, that Jesus will walk with us. It is a sign of pushing back the darkness of this world to greet a new hope, the hope of the presence of Christ.
On this first day of Advent, we aim to slow down the pace of this frantic world, to slow down our minds to prepare once again for the coming of light into this world. A light that pushes back even the densest of darkness. Advent is our time in the Church, to slow down the rush to move quickly into the season of Christmas and the decorations and the baking and the festivities. The season of Advent is much more measured and whispers to us, “Don’t rush too fast into this. Just focus for a bit on what we are doing.” It is a message not always wanted but it is important for us who see this season as part of a spiritual journey not simply a gift purchasing event. You see we believe that this time is about feeding our soul, it is about rethinking who this Jesus really was, is and is to come. This Advent time is about recognizing the holiness of all of life and celebrating that.
Other highlights of the liturgy were: the awarding of two Education for Ministry Certificates, the Lloyd Larson anthem “Light a Candle for All to See” sung by the choir under the leadership of LaRee Mohr and the rector, the Reverend Vivian Lam and the deacon, the Reverend Anne Anchor demonstrating the flow of Holy Communion in this parish where mask wearing is mandatory. The demonstration was a success as Communion went flawlessly.
After worship there was a luncheon in the hall with most of the congregation in attendance and a celebratory “welcome” cake. Bishop John cut the initial slice.
IN THE BODY COPY
The unmasked posed episcopal visit shot