Farnham & St. John's
The Weekly Message
 "A Christmas Wish"
Well, it’s here. Really here. Winter that is. It didn’t just creep in. It fell upon us kind of fast. Suddenly, it was the end of November and Thanksgiving. The holiday that pushes us through the doorway into real winter. Weather news had focused on snow, storms and icy, dicey weather sweeping around parts of the U. S. Warnings advised us of the potential for massive transportation disruption for those coming home for Thanksgiving - the biggest travel day of the whole year, even bigger than Christmas. There’s something compelling, in a primal way, about trying to get “home” for the Thanksgiving holiday. Familiar foods are a draw, but deep down, isn’t it more, really, about the people around the table than it is about the food on the table? Although our bodies need food to survive, deep down in our souls, that core part of us, don’t we seem to sense that an equally compelling need is for connection with others, especially those important to us? Thanksgiving presents the major holiday when we imagine there is the greatest opportunity to gather with those folks who may be the most nourishing to us. We call these folks “family” – be they biological or “nuclear” to our lives including friends that make up the inner circle of what is family to and for us. It is as if we have a deeply embedded existential need to be with those who are “familiar” – soul and spirit nourishing to us.

Isn’t it ironic that even before the holiday focusing on giving thanks dawns it is shadowed by “what’s next” – the biggest shopping season of the year! Black Friday has morphed into a whole weekend with Cyber Monday tacked on – just in case we haven’t had enough shopping time. These days, immediately after Thanksgiving, are a powerful draw to get the best possible deals for presents for everyone on our Christmas list. But hearing the stories I wonder if the focus hasn’t shifted from the perfect-gift-for-someone-I-love time to the exhilaration of simply shopping? An example: a story I just heard of someone who was hosting Thanksgiving for her extended family for the Saturday after Thanksgiving rather than the Thursday of Thanksgiving. The reason? So she could give full attention to Black Friday, beginning as it now does on Thanksgiving’s Thursday afternoon. Not because of family travel plans which can sometimes necessitate such a shift, but because the shopping feast offered by Black Friday was more compelling. I wonder what “hunger” we in our culture are feeding when we make such choices? And I am sad that our culture tries to feed hungers that may satisfy a societal economic desire for its financial health but can lead us to choosing a priority of spending our resources on “presents” rather than “presence.” 

The term “consumerism” has the same word base as “consumption” – it’s about what we consume. I wonder about our culture of consumption. Has our culture, economically driven, seduced us away from what truly feeds our hunger for the basic nourishment that sustains life: love and relationship? I believe that this time of year confronts us, head on, with life-giving choices about what really nourishes and sustains us.

It is the season of Advent in our faith community’s yearly cycle of life – a time of transition and preparation. In our secular world it is the season of Thanksgiving to Christmas, a time of expectation. In our physical world it is also a time of transition, preparation and expectation. A season of light-lessening, deepening darkness till the winter solstice in late December when the relationship between dark and light begins to turn again. 

Now is a transition time in which we anticipate and experience once again the amazing reality in our annual seasonal cycle that there is a beautiful rhythm to light and dark. In our summer to fall season there is a relief as the brightness of summer and heat of the sun slows into coolness and a time to let go of some things overgrown, over blown in our life. But then as the sun sets earlier and rises later (as if to take some time to hibernate) cold settles into the landscapes of our physical and emotional world. The darkness and cold seem to overtake our psyche. We yearn for light and warmth to intervene again, break through that which simply wants to hibernate within us, yet dreams of renewal and new life.

“Between the Dark and the Daylight” (the title of a book by Joan Chichester perhaps offers a good description of the time we now face in Advent as we watch for and prepare for the re-emergence of the predominant presence of light in our lives. Both darkness and light offer their gifts to us. Rest in the darkness offers a place and time for our egos to be quiet. Darkness stirs us biologically to necessary rest, a space and time that our physical systems need to use for the process of renewing us without interference from the manipulation of our internal ego manipulated controls which flourish in the sometimes blinding light of day. As well as without interference of the over-developed corporate ego of the society and culture in which we live and which ruthlessly hounds us when we are awake.
This is a time of winter weather. Winter weather offers unique challenges to our traveling “home” along and through this journey we call life. Not just the winter weather that impacts the airways and roadways of our physical world, but the weather that messes with our interior emotional world. Of all times of the year this is a time when we seek and need the warmth and light of being “home.” It is an emotionally laden travel time as we are drawn to what we feel is a safe home place. Home is where the heart yearns to be at this time of year. And it’s not about presents waiting for us there, but about presence – the presence of love and warmth that calls us to return. How will you get prepared in this Advent time, the between-the-dark-and-the-daylight time before Christmas, when the Light of Love is breaking through night and beckons us to come home to it? 

May traveling mercies accompany you during this time. 
May you find that amazing grace walks with you along the Way home. May you find yourself and those you love home for Christmas in a space filled not with lots of presents, but with lots of Presence.

For more about light and dark, night and day, here is Torrence's sermon delivered
last Sunday, our first Sunday in Advent.
A very special thanks to Brother Mark, Arline Hinkson and Ben Cox for creating a beautiful Celtic styled service they "conducted" in my absence on the last Sunday after Pentecost, specially known as "Christ the King" Sunday. Please read, mark, inwardly digest and then reflect on the message Brother Mark offered in the remarkable sermon he penned for and preached on for that Sunday. It is linked here .
Last Week at Farnham & St. John's
It was the first Sunday in Advent. The front of the Sunday bulletin announced " Hope"
It was an overcast day, wet, rainy and chilled on a day preceding darkening days till the star studded light of Christmas will break through the winter darkness.  
In each sanctuary we waited for someone to spark an ancient ritual in lighting the first of the four candles that announce an Advent time of anticipation and preparation.
At Farnham the youngest member, Miriam Sisson, sparked the light of the first candle.
At St. John's Danni Jones and Chris Plaice shared one taper to light the first candle there.
The music of an Advent First Sunday hymn accompanied each lighting.
At St. John's another ancient tradition followed the lighting of the first candle designated as "Hope."
Danni and Chris declared their intent (linked here ) to be married next spring. Their "Banns of Marriage" were proclaimed in the presence of God and congregation and friends and family in the church where the two will be joined together by vows and with God's blessing next May.
It was a light sparked morning.

Thanks to Susan Crowley and Ian Dunn for the Farnham photos,above, and Courtenay Altaffer for the St. John's photo
Lost & Found - Child's prescription glasses found in the StJ parking lot on Dec. 2 nd . Contact the office to claim. [(804) 333-4333]
Don't forget St. Stephen's, Heathsville's Oysters & Oldies Festival at Roanoke Farm this Saturday, the 7 th from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults and may be purchased in Heathsville at St. Stephen's Thrift Shop or on-line here. Kids 12 and under are free.

You are invited!
Farnham and St. John's folks, take a break from the Christmas rush! Please mark your calendars and plan to drop by and join me " fireside " in Clopton Parlor at St. John's for a a relaxed, refreshing Christmas " light tea time " including conversation and tree trimming between 3:30 and 5:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoons, December 10 th and 17 th . Hope to see you then.  Torrence

It's that time of the year
and we're standing on
corners yet again!

Thanks to all who help!

Thanks to those of you who submitted photos & information for this week's
E-pistle. Deadline is Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.
Farnham ECW is selling beautiful Merry Christmas Red potted amaryllis bulbs. This is in lieu of our traditional sale of Christmas wreaths. They are priced at $20 each and make lovely gifts as well as great Christmas decor for your home!

Since this is the first year we are doing this, we have produced a limited supply, so order early. Contact Sandy Garretson
Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay
The St. John's ECW meeting is at Sabine Hall on Tuesday December 10 th . Lunch will be provided: please let Pris know if you're attending! The ECW will have a booth at the Warsaw Christmas Event on December 14 th . Ladies are asked to bake cookies and put in bags of 3 to 5 for sale. Small breads, etc. that are easy to carry are also requested. The ladies will meet on Friday, December 13 th at Wellford Hall at 2:00 to make centerpieces for tables and cemetery sprays to be sold as well. Greens will be provided. Please mark your calendar and let Priscilla know if you plan to attend.
In the Church
Sunday December 8 th
2 nd Sunday in Advent

9:00 a.m. Morning Prayer at Farnham

11:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
at St. John's

Sunday December 15 th
Holy Eucharist

3 rd Sunday in Advent

9:00 a.m. at Farnham

11:00 a.m. at St. John's

Sunday December 22 nd
Morning Prayer

4 th Sunday in Advent

9:00 a.m. at Farnham

11:00 a.m. at St. John's

Tuesday December 24 th
Holy Eucharist

4:30 p.m. at Farnham
Christmas Celebration & Holy Eucharist

10:30 p.m. at St. John's
Christmas Eve Service & Holy Communion
Mark Your Calendar

Come Worship With Us
Sunday Service this week

9:00 a.m. at Farnham Church

11:00 a.m. St. John's Church

Farnham Church
St. John's Church