Dear Community and Friends of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi,

May the Lord give you peace.

We begin our second week of Advent. We have four full weeks of Advent this year. This gives us time to prepare for the celebration of Christmas. I invite you to join us for the Soup and Scripture experiences on the Mondays of Advent. Please register HERE, so we will have enough soup for everyone. We also celebrate the season with our annual Christmas Carols with the Choir on December 18th at 3 PM. Please mark your calendar and plan to join us.

Christmas is a time for gift-giving and receiving. We remember the gracious gift of God in the birth of Jesus. We spend  our Advent days preparing to welcome this gift, given in ever new ways. We have the gift of Christ in one another, in the migrant, the homeless, and the hungry. Isaiah speaks of the gifts of the Spirit, wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. These gifts revealed most clearly in Jesus are ours in the gift of the Spirit. Their purpose is to build a life-giving, compassionately just, reconciling community. We are invited to nurture the growth of peace in a divided world.

I was in Hartford In the early days of the pandemic. During the lockdown, I read stories to children (of all ages) on Wednesday nights. I found books on Kindle and used Zoom so the children could see the pictures and read along with me. Two books marketed for little ones but are of value to all were: The Gift of Nothing and The Invisible String. The Gift of Nothing tells the story of trying to find the perfect gift for a friend who has everything. The giver searches high and low for just the right present, only to realize that it is presence. In The Invisible String, a mother teaches her children that we are attached by love. No distance can be too far, or experience can separate. Love binds us together and holds us even beyond death. I note these stories as I consider Advent. We are blessed with the gift of God’s constant presence and invited to be present with one another. Our communion (both with a small and a capital c/C) is the shared gift of presence. The Invisible String is likewise our sharing in God’s love. This love opens our hearts to experience the grace of another person. With this love, we are all connected.

Thank you for your presence and for the love you bring to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. Your shared gifts are a great blessing for all.

Blessed Advent,

Fr. Tom, ofm