Wednesday, 6 January 2021



- "The Adoration of the Magi", from The Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry, ca. 1412-1416

Matthew 2:  1-12

 1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet. 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda:  for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.  9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:  and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.             

The Feast of the Epiphany brings us to the most wondrous and yet troubling event in the whole narrative of Christ’s nativity.  Of course, the narrative’s very beginning, the annunciation of God coming to share our human condition and dwell among us, is truly the Great Mystery, more miraculous than the journey and adoration of the wise men we celebrate on January 6—but it is bathed in the light of the most familiar, intimate and loving occurrence in human life, the birth of a child to a young couple.  And the incidental features of the story are also familiar even across two millennia, down to Mary tenderly remembering all of the details of the birth of her first child “and [pondering] them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19).

With the Epiphany, though, we move into something deliberately strange, beginning with the mysterious appearance of the star in the east and the arrival of the intriguing figures of the wise men or magi.  We know nothing about them except that they come from the east and that they have been granted an insight, however dim or partial, into the significance of Jesus’s birth.  Even their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh wondrously predict the course of Jesus’ life and its true meaning.  And yet, as the first gentiles to receive the message of Christ’s birth,  they also represent the beginning of something we now experience as the goal of our love, our actions and devotion—the worldwide human family drawn together under Christ’s reign.  And this perspective takes the story beyond the confines of a stable in biblical Judaea and out into the broad night sky with its bright star and glimpse of our loving God’s vast creation.

In all its mystery and wonder, however, the journey of the magi is also troubling, for their appearance in Jerusalem will arouse Herod’s jealousy and fear and lead to one of the cruelest atrocities in the New Testament, the massacre of the innocents—young children born near the sanctity of Christ’s birth and the proclamation of God’s salvation.  Thus a story of joy and wonder also reveals the depth of evil that Christ has entered the world to overcome.  But against a depraved king surrounded by a corrupt court of hangers on and jostling sycophants this story sets the beautiful Christ Child, surrounded by a loving family and worshipped by those mysterious strangers from the east who are among the first of so many to have their hearts opened to the truth of the Divine Word.  Here the image that has always affected me the most in the story is the star in the  magi’s night sky.  It is not the great burst of glory that overwhelmed the shepherds at Christ’s birth, but a steady, persistent light that draws us on through the darkness, like the magi, to seek what is true and good and loving and kind—Christ himself—and to worship him with everything that we can imagine, say and do.       

The picture I have chosen comes from one of the finest Medieval illuminated manuscripts, The Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry, a book of hours made in the early 1400s by the three Limbourg brothers, Jean, Paul and Herman. By the Middle Ages, the magi had been made kings in their own right in the popular imagination and had even been given names.  Here amid the splendour and magnificent dress of the three kings and their retainers, the Virgin sits lovingly watching the baby Jesus bless those worshipping him. 

For a musical selection, I have chosen one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s most beautiful sacred cantatas, no. 65, Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen (All they from Sheba shall come).  It was written for the Feast of the Epiphany celebrated on January 6, 1724 early in Bach’s tenure as Kantor at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.  The opening chorus is a noble processional for the magi with hunting horns, chorus and orchestra based upon the prophecy of Isaiah (60: 6) “all they from Sheba shall come: They shall bring gold and incense; and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord.”  We then enter the intimacy of the manger in a short chorale that is based on the Christmas song “A Boy is born in Bethlehem.”  This is followed by a reflection for bass soloist on how more fitting a heart is than gold for a gift.  In a second reflection for tenor soloist, the believer dedicates his whole being to Christ. “Take me as your own. Take my heart as a gift. All, all that I am, all I speak and do and think, shall, my Saviour, alone be dedicated to your service.”  A concluding chorale reinforces this message of devotion.   

- Dr. Brian Black

Tuesday, 5 January 2021


                            - Adoration of the Magi, Albrecht Dürer, 1504AD

The assigned readings for Morning Prayer on the eve of Epiphany (the 12th Day of Christmas) include the second Psalm, one of the most messianic in the psalter. Fitting, indeed, as we anticipate Epiphany with its reminder of the worship of the child Jesus by the Magi, an early attestation of his kingship and hence of being the ‘Anointed One’ or (via the Greek translation), Christ.

1  Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
   against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son;
   today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
   and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
   and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling 12 kiss his feet,
   or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled.
  Happy are all who take refuge in him.
(Psalm 2, NRSV).

The psalm, which can be understood as affirmation of King David when beset by foes within and abroad, falls into two themes. In the first, plots and conspiracies by ‘kings’ and ‘rulers’ are derided by God, who will sustain his appointed (earthly) king, his anointed one. The second is an affirmation of the everlasting sonship of the Davidic line, reflecting 2 Samuel 7:11-16, with an emphasis on the king’s authority (‘rod of iron’) and wrath.

The earliest believers were inflamed with a passion to understand Jesus in the OT scriptures, as in the experience of the pair on the Emmaus road “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” (Luke 24:27, NRSV). Thus, in the prayer of the Jerusalem disciples after the inquisition of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, recorded early in the Acts of the Apostles, they quote from the first theme of Psalm 2 (Acts 4:25-26). They affirm the fulfillment of the psalm in the conspiracy and cooperation of the Jewish ‘rulers’ and the Roman Emperor through Pilate (‘kings’) that brought about the crucifixion (as laid out in a series of scenes in Luke 22:66 – 23:25). Their petition is for great boldness to declare Jesus as Messiah in the fulfillment of Psalm 2 despite the threats directed at them.

The affirmation of Jesus as the Son of God, fulfilling the second part of Psalm 2, is also quoted numerous times in the NT literature. First by St. Paul who cites verse 7 in his declaration to the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch in Acts 13:33, declaring that Jesus is the consummation of all the promises God gave to his people in the (OT) scriptures. Then it is cited again in the great attestation of the superiority of Jesus to the angels in Hebrews 1:5, along with the parallel passage from 2 Samuel 7:14. And finally, in the Letter to the Church in Thyatira (Revelations 2:18-28, NSRV), the focus is on the power and authority of the Son. St. John dictates “18 These are the words of the Son of God”, who promises: 26 “To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end, I will give authority over the nations; 27 to rule them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are shattered –  28 even as I also received authority from my Father. To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star.

As we prepare to celebrate the adoration of the young child Jesus by the sages of the east, let us be reminded of the cosmic dimension of his anointing and be encouraged to resist false doctrines and “hold fast to what you have until I come” (Revelations 2:25, NSRV). We are more than conquerors through Him.

-Dr. René Boeré 

Monday, 4 January 2021



                - Moses and the Burning Bush, c. 1450–1475, attributed to Dieric Bouts 

"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Exodus 3: 1-12

No telling of the Christmas story is even conceivable without the appearance in heavenly glory of an angel to shepherds in the fields around Bethlehem. These shepherds were perhaps unlikely choices for an announcement of such magnitude and for the ensuing glimpse of a heavenly host erupting in joyful praise. They are not told to go and search for the new-born, the decision to do so was up to them. But, should they wish to, a sign is given by which they would know that they were at the right place. No street names were given, no householders’ names, but a simple clue that would direct the shepherds to a stable or barn. In only one of them, a baby would be found lying in a manger. The shepherds respond with excitement, and their faith is rewarded that same night by the discovery of the baby. Luke makes the point that the child was indeed lying in a manger and that the shepherds were thrilled that events had unfolded “just as they had been told.” The sign that had first given them hope and a purpose, had now given them certainty of God’s truthfulness.

A similar story from today’s lectionary readings also features a sign. Moses, too, was a shepherd, whose attention, while he was at work in the fields, was drawn by a miraculous sight, the Burning Bush. After hearing God’s announcement of the good news that the Israelites would be delivered from slavery through Moses, the shepherd is given a sign that events would unfold as decreed by God. “And this will be a sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” As it would be 1400 years later with the Bethlehem shepherds, so now Moses is asked to exercise faith, to follow God’s directives, and later, when the freed Israelites found themselves worshipping God back near Mount Horeb, to witness the fulfillment of the sign.

As a young believer it occurred to me that perhaps only “chosen” individuals received direct signs or words from God. Many years ago this notion was challenged abruptly one drizzly February afternoon (this was after all Vancouver) when I was an 18 year old student at UBC.

Having just been elected to a position in the Alma Mater Society I was taking my turn during lunchtime answering any queries that came to our office in the Student Union Building. Earlier that morning I had prayed that God might lead someone to the office—someone who might be hurting, who might need a friend. I had no idea why I had prayed this particular prayer. To be honest my life as a full-time student with a part-time job, the student council, and ongoing commitments to friends and family was very full. However, inexplicably, I had prayed those words.

I’d almost forgotten my prayer when a young student nervously approached the door and asked if I was busy. I answered that I wasn’t and invited her in. My hopes that she was here to ask about our student government policies, were dashed when she broke down in tears and began to tell her story. What transpired was a deeply personal narrative of trauma and hurt. Feeling utterly inadequate and silently praying for wisdom, I listened…and listened, interrupting occasionally to ask questions to help clarify her situation. When we were done I walked with her to the office of one of my professors—a man whom I both trusted and respected, a man who I knew would help her to access the resources that she so desperately needed.

Was my “sign” the prompting of God to pray that prayer? Was it my unexpected election win to the student council several weeks prior that landed me in our office that particular February afternoon? Was it the appearance of the young woman herself? I honestly don’t know.

What I did learn is that God honours our prayers and that he is gracious and faithful in giving us the courage we require to respond to his signs to us.

Thanks be to God!

 - Patricia and Tim Pope

Sunday, 3 January 2021



Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear . . . 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

We have arrived on the tenth day of Christmas.  Just like after a baby is born, the world is full of wonder of what lies ahead for us, what does the coming of the Christ child mean for all.  The wise men have not arrived yet and Mary and Joseph’s lives have been thoroughly changed.  What were Mary and Joseph contemplating with all their heavenly visitors and guests from shepherds to angels?  Were they prepared for the change or did they stick to the comforting words of scripture, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear.” (Psalm 46:1) What lies ahead for us who know the Christ child?  Like Mary and Joseph, we need to listen to the messages from God in our daily lives. Then worship, the Word made Flesh, Jesus, because we are the shepherds and Magi for the present age.

Psalm 97 

The LORD reigns let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory.

The coming of Christ is a reminder to us to” be glad, let distant shores rejoice.  The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory.” (Psalm 97:1) As we move forward through Christmas, it reminds me that this rejoicing is not for just this season but throughout the year.  The greatest challenge for all is to keep our eyes upon Jesus, even through the daily obstacles that come before us like sickness, loneliness, despair, and hardships of various types.  Look at how the apostles had their moments of weakness in faith.  Peter denying his Lord, Thomas doubting his Lord, and all those moments when the disciples of the time were persecuted.  How will response to Christ’s birth manifest itself to others? My actions need to be fruit of God’s spirit working in me, “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23.  Joy through the music to praise our God, Peace through the knowing that God holds me in the palm of his hand, Kindness when dealing with others even amidst the daily frustrations and self control in my responses to my perception of the injustice in our situations.  We each individually need to think of our actions that reflect the light of Jesus Christ to show that our God Reigns eternally. 

Isaiah 52 

When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together...

Even as we celebrate his birth reminding us that God lives among us eternally.  Both Isaiah and Revelation point to the future.  Isaiah 52:7-8 “When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. 9 Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was the place where a home (temple) was built for God.  To me it symbolizes the ability to be in God’s presence (New Jerusalem) for worship, prayer and to bask in his love.  Revelation 21: 22-23 “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”  Christmas reminds us of God’s promised Son so we can look to the time when we will all be with him in the New Jerusalem, singing his praise and infused with his love.  

As we move through the Christmas season, we need to be like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, listening for God’s message to us.  Now is the time for listening for, praying to, and praising the Newborn King.   As we journey forward, may our lives continue to change to the rhythm of God’s call to us.  My prayer is that Jesus walk beside each of us in our wilderness times so we may respond to God’s inspiration to be His light to the world.  Rejoice in the Lord and praise his Holy Name. 

-Greg Young

Saturday, 2 January 2021



                             -  St. Augustine’s High School Youth Group 2015

7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;

    I will sing the praises of your name.”

10 Again, it says,

“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;

    let all the peoples extol him.”

12 And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,

    one who will arise to rule over the nations;

    in him the Gentiles will hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:7-13

As I read this passage, the phrase “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,” (Romans 15:7) is what jumps out at me.   That is a tall order!  Christ has accepted us into His family, with limitless patience and love -- we are to welcome and receive one another in that same spirit. Paul reminded us in the previous passage of Romans 15 that when we operate in unity as the body of Christ, we have one heart and one mouth to praise God (Romans 15:6). This reminds me of when my three girls were little, and they needed to clean up their playroom.  Once the work was done, they could move onto the next fun activity of going to the park, doing a craft, or whatever carrot I chose to dangle before them to induce some action.  But often, they would waste their time arguing over who left the toys out, who had tidied up the day before, or my personal favourite, who had friends over that had made the entire mess!  Often, the result would be dinner was ready before they had time to get to the fun stuff.  I would shake my head and say, “just stop quibbling and work together to get the job done.” 

I think God must shake his head at us in much the same way from time to time.  We have been called into one body and one fellowship, to live together in oneness with Christ as the center.  Yet, sometimes we let our differences limit us, instead of taking the time to listen and really find out where someone else is coming from.  Being a part of the Family of God is such a gift but comes with responsibilities.  We need must put the love of God and one another ahead of our own agendas and “to-do” lists.  If we can stay focused on our common goals and unite as His people, we can be powerful instruments for the Holy Spirit to work through in bringing glory to God. This tall order becomes far more doable if we stop quibbling and remind ourselves of what Jesus did for us -- then any petty differences that we have with others don’t seem like such a big deal.

Today, I pray that this passage moves you as it has me, to work towards unity with our church family at St. Augustine’s and beyond. If there are any relationships that need mending, I pray that Christ gives us the grace and humility to do what needs to be done, so we can get to the good stuff!

- Wendy Doherty

Friday, 1 January 2021


            - The Circumcision of Jesus, from the Menologion of Basil II (ca. 980)

He telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names.  Ps. 147: 4

Isaiah 62: 1-5

1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,

till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.

2 The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory;

you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.

3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

4 No longer will they call you "Forsaken," or name your land "Desolate".

But you will be called "My Delight is in Her", and your land "Married";

for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married.

5 As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you;

as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

I have always loved finding out the meaning of people’s names, and I actually have felt it was an indication of the person’s sense of themselves if they were able to tell me. For, to be given a name is to be given an identity, a hope for their character and a dream of who they will be. A parent gives a child a name to express both how they feel about their child and a hope for who their child will become. Thus, a person may receive a name which is an old family name, showing their roots and solidarity with their clan and people. Or they may receive a name that speaks of how special they are to their parents, conceived in love and affection. Or they may receive a name meant to inspire them to be something special or a blessing in the world. My mother gave me the name “Jason” because she hoped I would be something in the world, it means “healer” in Greek. And a few weeks before Christmas, I was privileged to be part of a naming ceremony for Bamse and Grace’s new baby girl, Harmony. In chatting with them, it was obvious they had named their little girl out of the love they have for music, but also the hope they have for her that she will be a blessing to her family, and the world, by bearing witness to the harmony and union of God with his creation.

God is no different in his love of naming things, including himself. In Genesis, he names humankind and the universe, calling them into existence. He gives the privilege of naming all the animals to Adam, his Image Bearer. He gives new names to his people: Abram becomes Abraham, “father of all nations”,  and Jacob becomes Israel, “he who contends with God.” God Most High, El-Shaddai himself, says his name is important, it is Yahweh, or I AM. Jesus, too, calls Simon by a new name, “Peter”, the “rock” on whom he will build his church. To those who are faithful to the end, Christ says, “I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” Names are important to God. 

One frequent habit of God in the writings of the prophets is to name and rename Israel, as well, depending on how their relationship is going. When Israel had been idolatrous and sinful, God gave them a new name to reflect that poor character and failure. God tells Hosea to name his children Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi, which mean “Unloved” and “Not my people.” In today’s reading from Isaiah, you find the same thing, Israel had been renamed “Azubah”, which means “Forsaken”, and “Shemamah”, which means “Desolate.” But with the coming of the Messiah, comes God’s vindication and they are given the most beautiful names to depict how God has taken his people back as a groom takes his bride: “You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.”

Today is New Years day, and also the Feast of the Naming of Jesus. We know from the Gospels that the angels tell both Mary and Joseph that the Messiah will bear a very special name – Jesus. In fact, Joseph is told to ensure that the child should be given that name, and then in an amazing scene of prophecy, when Joseph and Mary take Jesus to the temple to be named and circumcised on the eighth day after his birth, Simeon and Anna burst into song at his naming. And Jesus’s name, of course, is the most important part, because it is the name given to him, not by his earthly parents, but his Heavenly Father, who has sent his only begotten Son for the purpose of saving all his Image Bearers. The name Jesus means, quite literally, “Yahweh saves.” The name of Jesus contains the name of God, his Father, and lays out his destiny and purpose – salvation. Thus at that naming ceremony Simeon would sing, “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32)

New Years is a time of new beginning, and of new names so I decided to give you two songs. One to rejoice in the name God has given us, and one to rejoice in the name of Jesus, who is our salvation.

- Br. Jason Carroll

Thursday, 31 December 2020



The Glorious New Creation

"For I am about to create new heavens

   and a new earth;

the former things shall not be remembered

    or come to mind.

But be glad and rejoice forever

    in what I am creating;

for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,

    and its people as a delight.

I will rejoice in Jerusalem,

    and delight in my people;

no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,

    or the cry of distress." Is 65:17-19 (NRSV)


and you shall be called, “Sought Out,

    A City Not Forsaken.” Is 62:12b (NRSV)


Selah (Ps 46, 48)


"Lord, you have been our dwelling place

    in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth,

    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,

    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn us back to dust,

    and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”

For a thousand years in your sight

    are like yesterday when it is past,

    or like a watch in the night.

You sweep them away; they are like a dream,

    like grass that is renewed in the morning;

in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;

    in the evening it fades and withers." Ps 90: 1-6 (NRSV)


I am learning, as we all do in different stages and moments in life, there will always be an after. After baptism, after the baby was born, they didn't make it, after their death, after college, after the wedding, the accident, the sabbatical, ordination, entering a community, and the list goes on and on. There will also be a time after the pandemic, as we now know of life before the pandemic. We know this before and after to be true, history is on our side and Scripture attests to this truth, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.” For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night." This momentary, seemingly endless, relentless, moment is still a moment, just one, in this vast expanse we know as time. It is comforting, grounding, to hear that we are not the only ones searching for home, the place where we belong. Long have we, frail humans, dwelt with the Holy One, for generations, even. I live in the shelter and shadow of mountains and to contemplate the knowing and glory of God to be before the mountains were brought forth is an incredible mystery and reality. And to be returned to the same dust as these mountains brings memory to the fibers in my being, rooting me to these mountains as a temporary, earthly being much like this pandemic and year. 2020, at the end of this very day, has ended, and there will be an after just as there was before.

A few short days ago, we celebrated Christmas, the birth of the long-awaited Saviour, and the return to longer, brighter days. I write this reflection in the week before Christmas, and the winter solstice, so the days are indeed still darkening and winter is still rolling in, but the sun (glorious sun!) has made an appearance for the first time in days to offer a blessed, small, reprieve to my soul (a/n: not just mine of course). The long days of Advent are over. This short season in the liturgical year pivots us to the beginning of the rest of our eternal lives with Christ in the birth of Jesus. Like this sun over the valley, brighter days are ahead, when, or how they are about to come about is unknown, but the Light we cling to at Christmas is the being with tiny breaths held at the breast of Mary, Emmanuel. God is with us and has been before us and will be long after us. We have been sought out in creation, formed, and known from the womb of the earth, and somehow, in some time "no more shall the sound of weeping be heard". May we be like grass renewed in the morning, may we be reminded that we will fade and wither, and through it all, You are God, from everlasting to everlasting. Selah.

May we, I, seek this glorious new creation. Christ has been born in Bethlehem, the city of David. Let us continue to keep watch through this night for there will be rejoicing in the morning. Alleluia.

 -Kelsea Willis