This Week: December 3 - 7
The end of the semester is upon us, but the liturgical season of Advent and the start of the Christian church year have just begun. This week in our final Tuesday chapel service of the semester, we will celebrate the three liturgical time periods that make up the Christian calendar’s incarnation cycle—Advent (Christ’s anticipated coming and return to earth), Christmas (God’s Word made flesh), and Epiphany (God’s “striking appearance” or manifestation). The sacred stories narrated in worship during Advent through Christmas to Epiphany are amazing stories. They tell of earthy, intimate moments when God becomes flesh and dwells among God’s people; they also tell of breath-taking, startling, cosmic change. Liturgical scholar Paul Galbreath suggests that Advent challenges us to balance our fondness for the season’s nostalgic moments to embrace just how powerfully and wonderfully disruptive God’s story of incarnation really is. Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, taken together, even more strikingly offer this challenge.
A few years ago, I discovered in cyberspace a gift from cosmic space for the Advent season, a season when prophets and New Testament Gospel bards tell through lectionary readings of ripped open heavens and falling stars. I shared this cyber-gift with the community last year and offer it again for this Advent season. For the last several years, the website for The Boston Globe, boston.com, has each year posted a “Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar.” The site features each day of Advent a different photograph from the Hubble Space Telescope. The photos are cosmic, intriguing, expansive, startling, and quite fitting not only for Advent but for the entire journey from Advent through Christmas to Epiphany. The stars do indeed have a tale to tell as you can see in this photo posted for Advent 2011:
|This collection of dazzling stars is called NGC 6611, an open star cluster that formed about 5.5 million years ago and is found approximately 6500 light-years from the Earth. It is a very young cluster, containing many hot, blue stars, whose fierce ultraviolet glow make the surrounding Eagle Nebula glow brightly…in this image, dark patches can also be spotted, punctuating the stellar landscape. These areas of apparent nothingness are actually very dense regions of gas and dust, which obstruct light from passing through. Many of these may be hiding the sites of the early stages of star formation, before the ledgling stars clear away their surroundings and burst into view.|
|– Quoted on the Hubble Advent website.|
I invite all of us to pause for worship this week as we anticipate the end of the semester and the nearness of Christmas. The service will feature scripture readings and music related to Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Join us in the Lower Auditorium of Wingate Hall at 11am on Tuesday, December 4, for “I Wonder as I Wander”: A Worship Journey from Advent to Epiphany.
Our worship offering this week will go to the Forsyth Jail and Prison Ministry where second year student, Brittany Varner, is an intern. Here are some toiletry items to contribute for the ministry to distribute: personal hygiene articles such as soap, non-aerosol deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, and body lotion. The gift of the month for December: individually packaged toothbrushes.
Project Chapel concludes this semester’s events with two end-of-term worship opportunities:
|Thursday, December 6||11:00am, Lower Auditorium||Grab some coffee and join us as we Embody Justice through a brief time of worship.|
|Thursday, December 11||8:30 – 9:30am, Davis Chapel||Stop by for a few moments or a whole hour of morning prayer to begin the day. Several students will be present to anoint with oil anyone who esires anointing and prayer.|
|11:00am – Noon, Lower Auditorium||“Contemplation, Coffee, and Krispy Kreme:” Take a few minutes to be nurtured by coffee and donuts, music and art. Mosaic has invited all of us to assist with artistically decorating Green Street United Methodist Church’s Welcome Table. The Welcome Table at Green Street and in other communities symbolizes inclusivity, diversity, and unity. Join us as we worship together and offer our gifts to the Welcome Table.|
|5:30 – 6:00pm, Rotunda||The day of prayer ends with a procession to an outside venue for sunset music, prayer, and communion.|
- Last day of classes: December 7
- Exam schedule is here.
- Winter Break begins December 16.
- Spring Term classes begin: January 16
Course evaluations are an important aspect of curriculum review and planning for future semesters. Students are encouraged to complete course evaluations for each of their courses. Evaluations can be completed through student WIN accounts. Students can access evaluations from December 10 through December 18. Faculty will have access to evaluation results beginning on December 20 (after all grades have been submitted).
View the full “This Week at the School of Divinity” weekly newsletter here.
Blessings on the week ahead,
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs