December 31, 2006

Dates Worth Noting:

This post will remain on top until the end of the year (and be edited as needed). Please scroll down to see new postings. Click the "read more" link to see the listing of events.
  • Wednesdays until November 29 -- Praying Jesus' Prayer study continues at 1:30 pm in Boyle Lounge.
  • Monday November 6 -- UCW meets at 7:00 pm.
  • Thursday November 9 -- Church cleaning bee at 9:00 am.
  • Thursday November 16 -- Worship service at Extended Care Wing at 10:45 am.
  • Saturday November 18 -- UCW Bazaar
  • 4 Sundays starting November 26 -- The Music of Advent & Christmas Study Group 7:30 pm
  • Sunday December 3 -- 1st Sunday of Advent, communion service. Soup & sandwich lunch and tree-trimming party following the service.
  • Sunday December 3 -- UCW meeting at 5:00 pm. Potluck Supper and gift exchange.
  • Wednesday December 6 -- Board meeting at 7:00 pm.
  • Sunday December 10 -- Buy Nothing Christmas Bible Study 2-4 pm.
  • Sunday December 17 -- 3rd Sunday of Advent, Congregational Pageant and White Gift Sunday
  • Sunday December 24 -- 4th Sunday of Advent celebrated at 10:30 am. Christmas Eve service at 7:00 pm.
  • Sunday December 31 -- celebrate the New Year at regular Sunday worship at 10:30 am.

December 28, 2006

Sevices Being Recorded!

Here at Riverview we have started something new. We are now recording worship services and burning them to CD. This way we will have an archive of our worship experiences. Also, if someone wants, the CD's can be borrowed so you can hear a service. Recording started last Sunday and both the morning and evening service are on CD in the office.

December 26, 2006

Looking Forward to December 31, 2006 -- New Years Eve

Come and join us at our regular worship time this Sunday as we consider the ending of one year and the beginning of another.

The Scripture Readings for this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13
  • Psalm 8 (VU p.732)
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: Revelation 21:1-6a
  • From the Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46

The Hymns will be:

  • 59 Joy to the World
  • 74 What Child is This
  • 87 I Am the Light of the World
  • 96 Will You Come and See the Light

The Sermon title is Beginnings, Endings, Resolutions

Early Thoughts: Out with the old, in with the new. Once again it is time to bid farewell to another year. It is a time for looking back at what has happened over the last 12 months (as a glance at newspapers and news TV will point out) and reflecting on what we have learned and experienced.

What has 2006 brought us? What did we gain from the year? What do we leave behind? It is always good to reflect on where our path has taken us. But of course that is ony half of the New Year's celebration.

As we prepare to countdown to midnight we do so with hope and anticipation. We look forward to what awaits us in the next 12 months. What new challenges and celebrations will we find? What surprises are out there waiting for us?

A common part of New Year's celebrations has been the making of resolutions. Of course most of these resolutions may end up being honoured more in the making than in the doing. But there is something about a new beginning that incites people to make promises about how they will live, something that I think is tied in to that feeling of hope as a new year begins.

Our Scripture lessons for New Years remind us of many things. Ecclesiastes reminds us, in those words made famous by the Byrds, that to every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. Revelation reminds us that God is the Alpha and the Omega, beginning and end and that God is making all things new. And the Matthew pasage reminds us of our ethical duty to care for those around us.

As we look back on the year that was and forward to what may be may we pledge ourselves anew to live out God's call to be peolpe of faith. And may 2007 truly be a year of blessing for all of us.

December 19, 2006

Looking Forward to December 24, 2006 -- Christmas Eve

The Candlelight Christmas Eve service will be at 7:00 pm. Get there early to get the best seats!!

The Scriptures will be:
  • The birth of a child foretold: Isaiah 9:2-7
  • The story of a baby, angels, and shepherds: Luke 2:1-20

We will sing lots of carols:

  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Angels from the Realm of Glory
  • Go, Tell it on the Mountain
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • 'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  • Joy to the World
  • Silent Night

There will not be a sermon in this service (everybody can cheer now). There will be a poem --Christmas Bells--, a story -- Pippin the Christmas Pig, and a drama set in Bethlehem on the day after Christmas mixed in throughout the service. Before singing Silent Night to close the service we will each light a small candle to show God's love shining through our world.

December 18, 2006

Looking Forward to December 24, 2006 -- 4th Sunday of Advent

The Scriptures for the Morning Service will be:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Micah 5:2-5a
  • From the Gospel: Luke 1:26-35
  • Responsive Reading: Luke 1:47-55 (VU p. 898)
  • From the Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

The Hymns will be:

  • 9 People Look East
  • 62 Once in Royal David's City
  • 48 Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • 35 Good Christian Friend Rejoice

The Sermon title is The Nativity Story (Truth, Myth, and Faith)

Early Thoughts:Every year people have a great debate about the "truthfulness" of the Christmas story. In fact, one of the five fundamentals of fundamentalism is to believe in the historical reality of the virgin birth (the other 4 are the inerrancy of Scripture, "blood" atonement, bodily resurrection of Christ, and that Jesus will come again). But is that even the point of the story? Is it really the point of Christmas?

It is my belief that people have largely forgotten (or have never been taught) that truth and fact are not neccessarily the same thing. This appears to be especially true where Scripture is concerned. Some people have invested so heavily in the belief that Sripture is, in some very literal way, the exact Word of God that to talk about Scripture stories as anything other than historic fact is very threatening. This has shown up frequently on in the discussions on WonderCafe. AS a result they claim that to question the historicity of th birth naratives is to toss out any reason for Christmas at all--or even to collapse the whole foundation of Christian faith.

But there is another viewpoint. Truth doesn't have to mean factually accurate. Truth can often be told through mythic stories as well as, or even better than, through attempts to be historically accurate. It is my belief that this is what we see happening in the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke.

Of all the writers in the Christian Scriptures only Matthew and Luike find it important to discuss the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. That alone may suggest how (un)important the event was seen by the early church. And those two stories are totally different. They describe a different set of events and have a different geography. They can not easily be made into one story and yet remain faithful to the text.

Please join us this Sunday as we look at the birth narratives, at what may have helped shape them, and how they show us the inter-relation between truth, myth, and faith.

CHristmas Pageant!

Yesterday morning was the Congregational Pageant. It was greatly enjoyed by everybody. Expand this post to see pictures of the event.

December 12, 2006

Board Meeting Highlights

News from the Board meeting of December 6, 2006:
  • we discussed the Emerging Spirit campaign being produced by the national church
  • we talked about potential Board members -- we are looking for 2 people to fill 3-year terms, 1 for a 2-year term and 1 for a 1-year term
  • we reviewed the financial statements
  • we circulated a Structure Document for review. THis may be brought to the Annual Meeting for congregational approval (or for information with a later special meeting for approval).
  • we talked about a couple of issues for the new Board to deal with after the Annual Meeting on (which will be on February 4, 2007).

The next Board Meeting will be on January 16, 2007. It's primary focus will be preparing for the Annual Meeting.

December 11, 2006

Looking Forward to December 17, 2006 -- 3rd Sunday of Advent

This Sunday will be our White Gift Service. Articles will be collected for the Christmas Cheer campaign and the Food Bank. Also this Sunday we will have our Congregational pageant.

All are welcome as we tell and sing the Christmas story. Will you be an angel, a shepherd, or one of the Magi?

December 04, 2006

Looking Forward to December 10, 2006 -- 2nd Sunday of Advent

The Scripture Readings for this Sunday are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Malachi 3:1-4
  • Responsive Reading: Luke 1:68-79 (p. 900 in Voices United)
  • From the Gospel: Luke 3:1-6
The Hymns are:

The SErmon title is Wake up, Wash up!

Early Thoughts: Every year in Advent we talk about a very strange man. He is a cousin of Jesus, born just a few months before Jesus. His name is John, but we usually refer to him as John the Baptist.

The story of John's miraculous birth appears in the first chapter of Luke (this week's responsive reading is the song John's father Zechariah sings when he is born). The next time we see him he appears in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. THe early Christian writers looked at the stories about John and looked at the prophetic books where it talked about a messenger who would come to prepare the way for the Messiah. John, it appeared to them, must be that messenger. And so, as we prepare for Christmas we hear stories about John and his preaching.

John's preaching (found in Luke 3, as well as the other Gospels) was anything but comfortable. He preached repentance with a capital R. He calls his listeners a brood of vipers and warns them about wheat being separated from chaff, with the chaff then being destroyed. John apparently saw his mission being to convict the people of their sin. And in this he stood in a long tradition.

The prophets of Jewish Scripture quite often call the people to account for their behaviour. In fact, it can easily be argued that this calling to account was their main raison d'etre, not foretelling the future (it is only in looking back that people said "Hey, they were predicting what is happening now"). And they did this out of love, love of God and because of God's love for the people. God calls us to account so that we can change our behaviour. GOd sends messengers to remind us how we can do better not so we can avoid some future punishment but because God wants us to grow. As we once again prepare for God to break into our world it seems appropriate that we should spend some time talking about repentance--a word which really means to change directions.

This weeks reading from Malachi is another example of the prophetic voice calling the people to be changed. Here the prophet speaks about God's people being cleansed by refining fire or fuller's soap. When metal is being refined it is put into a blast furnace so that any impurities can be burned away. THe prophet is reminding us that God can remove our impurities and turn God's people into gold and silver.

When I was in youth group as a teen one of the songs we often sang was called Refiner's Fire. It made made use of this imagery, saying:

Purify my heart, let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart, let me be as gold, pure gold

Re-finer's fire My heart's one desire
is to be holy set apart for You Lord.
I choose to be holy set apart for you my master,
ready to do your will.

Purify my heart, cleanse me from within and make me holy.
Purify my heart, cleanse me from my sin, deep within

Are we willing to be woken up to how we need to change and how we need to help change our world? Are we willing to let ourselves be washed with fuller's soap? Are we ready to be refined? These are the questions Malachi and John ask us. Being woken and washed is part of the life of faith, they are a part of what happens when God is active in our lives. And so, they are a part of our preparing for the coming of Emmanuel, God-made-flesh.