I am always struck by how counter-cultural the Advent mass readings are each year. As the church is observing Advent with stories of Jesus challenging us to "Keep awake," and John the Baptist warning us to "prepare the way of the Lord," greater society will be celebrating with holiday parties, spending sprees, and an increasingly secular Christmas. The austerity of John the Baptist in conjunction with the teachings of Jesus is a strange bedfellow with the worldly busyness of the season.
On Sunday, November 19, we will celebrate the Feast of Dedication at St. Mark's. Our current church building was consecrated on November 28, 1954. When the building was being built, November 28 was not widely known in the Episcopal Church as the Feast of the Holy Sovereigns, as this day was not a part of the calendar until many decades later, and I do not know the history of when the celebrations of this date began in our diocese. Whatever the case might be, we now celebrate November 28 as the Feast of the Holy Sovereigns in this diocese, and the bishop commends all churches to celebrate Emma and Kamehameha IV's witness on the Last Sunday after Pentecost.
In the mid twentieth century, the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar celebrated his first mass as a priest and preached on the theme of the Eucharist. He saw the Eucharist as theology and spirituality — bread broken for the world. He believed his own life has been touched by God in the same way, as if God had said to him: “I blessed you and then I broke you. And I broke you so that I could give you.”