Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, is a season of new beginnings. So it’s fitting that we’re launching our website- not in September, or January, or any of the times we normally associate with a new year- but at the start of a new year in the Church.
Advent is a time of renewal. It’s an exhilarating time, one of my favourite seasons. I’ve always loved the traditional Advent hymns, with their sense of fresh expectancy and longing: “O come, o come Emmanuel” and “Lo! he comes with clouds descending”. To me, they speak of the ancient desire for God, and our human need to be loved. Advent is a season of heightened expectation: we believe in transformation; we believe in change.
We’re always being led into newness. Here at St Philip’s, as well as our website, we had this week an exciting new service in Spanish. Thirty people from the Latin American community in Avondale Square and the surrounding area came together to hold what we believe is a first in the Church of England: an Anglican Mass in Spanish! The service was led by Fr Hugo Adan Fernandez and Fr John Watson. We had a wonderful time and shared traditional refreshments afterwards, bunuelos baked by Celina.
The next Spanish Mass, a Christmas celebration, will be on Sunday 20 December at 3pm at the Church. All are welcome. In the parish, families and friends will celebrate the traditional novena in the nine days from 16 December to 24 December, to honour the Virgin Mary, St Joseph, the Wise Men and the baby Jesus, travelling from one household to another, praying, eating and singing villancicos (Christmas carols).
There is so much to celebrate as we think of the new events that have taken place in our church and community. On Saturday 5 December, Avondale Community Events (ACE) will be holding the second Christmas dinner and party for all children and their families on the Avondale Estate and surrounding area, building on the success of last year’s event with a pantomime. Once again, the event will be followed by the Christingle service in the Church at 5pm for all who wish to attend.
Advent and Christmas are a time to recognise and celebrate our diversity. There are so many talented individuals in our community and different traditions in evidence. In our part of London, we are from many cultures, but our longing for freedom and love, for ourselves and our world, brings us together.