Here at St.Andrew’s-Wesley, we have commenced our countdown to Christmas this past Sunday (as our church calendar for Advent started on November 26th, 2017). There are lots of resources and inspirations that we want to share with you over the next few weeks, from things to do with family to gift ideas. We will start off with some highlights provided below from United Church of Canada’s Advent Unwrapped, as well as Gary’s wonderful message from Advent 2016, “Countdown To Christmas”.
- First up from Fort McMurray First United Church, Donalee Williams is in ministry with the congregation. She wrote about ideas on Family Advent Time on how to set up an Advent Centre in your home, especially meaningful for families with children.
- Download, print, and place on your fridge the Advent 2017 Calendar to count down the days towards Christmas. This calendar is provided by Advent Unwrapped, part of Mission and Service of United Church of Canada.
- Bring family and friends to kick-off the Advent season at our Community Christmas Concert and Sing-A-Long this Friday, December 1st, 7 – 8:30pm. Community carol singing, 30 piece brass band, choirs, activities for kids, refreshments.
- Revisit Gary’s Sermon from this past Sunday: “When Thing Fall Apart”.
- Last but not least, check in on our Facebook page for lots more events and inspirations throughout this Advent season.
To a happy Advent,
From the leadership team at St.Andrew’s-Wesley
COUNT DOWN TO CHRISTMAS
(first published November 27th, 2016)
My daughter told me that this year she was determined not to get into a Christmas frenzy, that she would plan in advance and actually enjoy the season. And so, we ended up talking about Advent, which begins this coming Sunday, November 27th, a period of time when we are invited to think about the meaning of Christmas, and what it would look like to have a Christmas that matters.
And that’s not easy, what with all the pressures to decorate; send cards (getting the “Christmas letter” off in good time my mother’s particular nightmare); entertain and party; be constantly of good cheer; and above all, buy stuff, lots of stuff… and then some more stuff.
Advent is slow down time; prayer-full time; a waiting time … like the final weeks of pregnancy; or those moments before the lights dim and the curtain opens and the play begins; or breathing deep because you know something big is about to happen, something that might change your life. Which means that everything we do is done with a new significance… it matters. It’s “active waiting,” it’s getting things ready, it’s preparing the way of the Lord.
We say, “Christ is born”… again… both a memory and a new reality; a reminder and a promise. We “ponder all these things” – which is what Mary did on that first Christmas morning, holding baby Jesus to her breast, hearing angel song in her heart, proclaiming God’s presence in this child, God’s unending and totally present love for the world.
A few ways that might help you get ready:
Celebrate “Giving Tuesday” on Nov. 29th – the counterpoint to Black Friday and Cyber Monday when we are enticed to spend, spend, spend. This day is an occasion to GIVE… and the United Church invites you to make a special donation to Gifts with Vision, a catalogue of giving opportunities here in Canada and around the world … from winter mittens to a well for clean water to hot meals, to overseas school and tuition fees. Check out their website: www.giftswithvision.ca .
This is a way to act on a poster message that came via Facebook, from an “unfundamentalist Christian”:
Want to keep Christ in Christmas?
Feed the hungry, clothe the naked,
forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted,
care for the ill, love your enemies,
and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Read a few poems, maybe like this prayer/poem by David R. Allan (from Crosswalks):
“Bethlehem’s photo album”
Now in the deepening afternoon,
while the still light falls upon us and
quietness descends like snow, we hear
You approach, O God, like the sounds
Of distant carols, or in the evocative
smells of wax and evergreen,
hauntingly familiar voices of home
or somewhere where we want to be…
Now in words as old as time and familiar
as old photographs, all copper and sepia,
stir recollection and dreams in us,
that coldness may melt,
emptiness fill and demands die away.
Then we shall be found where we are,
be as we are, and be held in
our own likeness and our image of You.
Some call it Bethlehem. And some call
it home. And some don’t know its name at all.