We think our family has finally arrived in South Dakota (only been 3 years or so).
Why? Because we were watching the great Los Angeles football rivalry between my alma mater, USC, and my wife's dad's school, UCLA. The ABC announcers said, "It is a chilly evening here in L.A. - temperatures in the 60s..." My wife, older son and I began laughing derisively. Maybe we are becoming Dakotans after all... first snow arrived in Sioux Falls today, by the way, and we had a few below zero mornings last week.
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Also arriving: Advent, the start of a new church year. A time to renew our thanks for Christ our Savior and to rekindle our hope for his coming again, to bring a new heavens and new earth restored to the perfection of God's own plan.
The 1928 Book of Common Prayer calls for The Exhortation on the First Sunday of Advent. It is a strong instruction to take seriously the gift of God that we receive in Holy Communion - the very body and blood of Christ, the Word become flesh in the birth of Jesus and sacrificed for our sins on the cross:
DEARLY beloved in the Lord, ye who mind to come to the holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, must consider how Saint Paul exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, before they presume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy Sacrament; so is the danger great, if we receive the same unworthily. Judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord; repent you truly for your sins past; have a lively and stedfast faith in Christ our Saviour; amend your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men; so shall ye be meet partakers of those holy mysteries. And above all things ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and man; who did humble himself, even to the death upon the Cross, for us, miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death; that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life. And to the end that we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master, and only Saviour, Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-shedding he hath obtained for us; he hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries, as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death, to our great and endless comfort. To him therefore, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, let us give, as we are most bounden, continual thanks; submitting ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen.
God fill you with hope and holy anticipation during Advent, and with light divine at Christmas.