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Final news for 2016


“O Antiphons”

O… what?

I had to read my email with instructions a few times!

I have never heard this word before in my life. By now (4 months into the masters) I am starting to feel a little bit robbed of information I think should have been given to me since childhood.

My ignorance... or perhaps not.

What about Advent, celebrated by millions of Christians?

Never heard about the actual practice before.

Discover Advent with me!

But… just in case

you do not read till the end,

I would like to take a moment to say

THANK YOU

to one and every supporter this year.

For every Cent given

towards ministry and living cost

for every prayer on my behalf

for all the support while I was healthy and sick

every WhatsApp email phone call and visit

I am entering 2017 and it is quite full already

I will be in class JANUARY

in a conference in Thailand FEBRUARY

& training and teaching on a Discipleship Training School two weeks

MARCH I will begin full time Thai studies

while doing weekly Masters on the side through correspondence

APRIL & MAY I need to finalise 3 books to teach schools from

JUNE I am back in SA for Masters

and

AUGUST I will be training a new pioneering YWAM team for 3 weeks in the UK

and the list goes on and on… with another Masters run in SA near the end of 2017.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR MONTHLY SUPPORT!

May we together

extend

strengthen

multiply

what He is doing

in and through

you and I

in this world.

Sarah Anna-Lise

Discover Advent with me ! (AND A GREAT BOOK!)

I made three calls to three different (and much older than I) individuals whom I knew that if all three answered the same, then I could not be the fourth completely in zone ignorant.

So this is a bit of a longer read... and if you grew up in the NG Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church) like me and if "Rooms Katoliek" has a negative connotation (like worshiping Mary & the Saints) then... you might find this topic about ADVENT and 'O Antiphons' as interesting as I did when I was faced with it as a 'non-compulsary' exercise during Christmas.

I will give you the short answer to what the practice of Advent is here but I hope you read beyond this line :-)

Advent: “The Christian season of Christmas actually begins on Christmas Eve and lasts for twelve days, ending on January 6. The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas.”

I am digging into Church History for the first time in my life. (Yes, I am surprised but the Masters is rubbing off on me and I really like it) I am reading about things that are both amazing and horrifying. I am reading a book (not part of the Masters) called "Church History in Plain Language” by dr. Bruce L. Shelley. Go ahead and find it on Kindle and do yourself a favour. It is a thick book (500 pages) but really worth a read during holidays. Many amazing stories of early Desert Father and Mothers are omitted but hopefully you will want to dig into that after the glimpse of history. One such a story is of Polycarb - I think his life story is one of my favourites. I was also glad to meet Gregory of Nyssa, Bazil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nazianzus - three history changers that I had to briefly study.

So I read a little bit more during my Christmas break. For the first time the world-view behind the "terrible crusades in the name of Christ" are making sense to me. Church doctrine, both won and lost, lead into different doctrinal expressions & Christian roads. (AD 312-590) The two extremes before (NG Kerk) Protestantism (1600's) came into play was Roman Catholic (The West) and Eastern Orthodoxy. Back in the days Catholic meant "one body" and Orthodox meant "correct" When they decided for instance that God is Trinity it was "correct doctrine" or "orthodox" Much of what the Disciples and Jesus modelled got lost. And when the followers of Jesus were finally for real thrown out of the Temple the gospel spread but so also did many various and strange doctrines.

Just because I grew up in the west, 'born onto the Protestant & Infant baptism road' by default, does that mean that both streams that existed long before Protestantism were wrong? No. When I was 19 I was baptised and got kicked out of my denomination that did not even exist a few hundred years prior. What did the “prior” have that we do not have anymore? What did they celebrate that we are not celebrating anymore? What church traditions did we loose that was common before split after split and some splinters of today?

I am discovering once such a (Christmas) theme that brings me back to the 3 people I mentioned in the beginning of this letter - all 3 saying no, no, no. They do not know what Advent is about and learned nothing about it in their upbringing. Neither did I. They knew it had something to do with 'Rooms Katoliek' and therefore didn't bother. (Then all of us Googled!)

I have a picture in the beginning with candles in it. Do not let the pink (for joy) purple for royalty and white candles in this picture put you off. Rather, may it trigger some curiosity as to finish reading this post. What very precious & practical information I gained through my studies.

I hope you feel a bit inspired to dig into church history this coming year. I will be posting some things on the “church calendar” that I did not know existed. I am still learning. How much I will embrace or refrain from, I do not know - but I know I want to know a little bit more while staying Biblically sound.

O Antiphons (They are mentioned by Boethius during 480-525)

I also have never heard this word before in my life. By now (4 months into the masters) I am starting to feel a little bit robbed of information. I suddenly find myself in a circle of Christian information that (apparently) many thousands of other believers around the world are participating in. And it has nothing to do with the worship of Mary and the traditional 'Catholic scarecrow'

In my South African circles we are fighting about "to tree or not to tree.” This reminds me of a poem I read years ago, an image that became something very special to me for many years and lo and behold - during the masters I bumped into this poem again because of one of the books we had to read.

It goes like this:

"Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries…"

by: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

While many believers are enjoying a richness in advent, a term I am only getting to know now, we worry about the, depending which camp you fall in, 'unholy' or 'redeemed' green tree in our December living room.

Discover Advent with me !

How to Experience the Power of Waiting on God at Christmastime

When is Advent? by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Patheos.com

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/introduction-to-advent/

Advent is a season in the Christian year that lasts for about four weeks. It begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve, thus there is some variation in its length.

In our secular celebration of Christmas, the Christmas season (or holiday season,) begins in the weeks prior to Christmas Day. So Advent overlaps with what is usually thought of in American culture as the Christmas season. But its beginning and ending are well defined, and its themes are quite a bit different from what is commonly associated with secular Christmas celebrations.

The Christian season of Christmas actually begins on Christmas Eve and lasts for twelve days, ending on January 6.

The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” In the season with this name, we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.

If you’re unfamiliar with Advent, I expect it might feel odd to think of the weeks before Christmas as something more than Christmastime.

What Colors Are Used in Advent?

My Advent wreath at home, after the fourth Sunday of Advent and before Christmas. This Advent wreath combines purple and pink candles for Advent, with a WHITE candle for Christmas, with the greenery we associate with secular Christmas celebrations.