December 31, 2007

Upcoming Events

This post will remain on top until the end of the year. Please scroll down to see other posts. Expand it to see the events.

Last Updated: November 19, 2007

  • September 27-30 -- Fall Meeting of Cambrian Presbytery in Fort Frances
  • Sunday September 30 -- UCW Harvest Supper at 5:30

  • Monday October 1 -- UCW Meeting at 7:00 pm
  • Sunday October 7 -- Worldwide Communion and Thanksgiving Service
  • October 9-10 -- Gord at Conference Executive meeting in Winnipeg
  • Mid-October -- UCW Pie Making
  • Saturday October 27 -- Zone-wide visioning meeting in Fort Frances
  • Sunday October 28 -- Congregational Supper and Meeting at 5:00 pm

  • Saturday November 3 -- UCW Bazaar
  • Sunday Noember 4 -- More Voices sing song at 7:00 pm
  • Monday November 5 -- UCW Meeting at 7:00 pm
  • Sunday November 11 -- Weekly worship time changed to 7:00 pm for this week.
  • Sunday November 18 -- Morning Worship will be a "Favourite hymns" service
  • Sunday November 18 -- Bruce and Cheryl Harding in concert at 7:30 pm
  • Thursday November 22 -- Worship at Extended Care Wing at 10:45

  • Sunday December 2 -- First Sunday of Advent, Communion service. Tree-trimming party and soup & sandwich lunch following the service.
  • Monday December 3 -- UCW Meeting at 6:00 pm, supper at White Otter Motel, donations to Christmas Cheer fund instead of gift exchange
  • Sunday December 16 -- Third Sunday of Advent, Christmas Pageant and White Gift Sunday
  • Sunday December 16 -- Blue Christmas Service at 7:00 pm
  • Monday December 24 -- Christmas Eve Worship at 7:00 pm
  • Thursday December 27 -- Worship at Extended Care Wing at 10:45

December 27, 2007

Looking Ahead to December 30, 2007 -- Sunday After Christmas

This Sunday's Scripture readings are:
  • Luke 2:25-38
  • Matthew 2:13-23

The Hmns this Sunday are:

  • 48 Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • 71 ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
  • 44 It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  • 43 Go Tell it on the Mountain

The Meditation title is The Shadow of Christmas.

Early Thoughts: Why hear these stories at Christmastime? Isn't Christmas happy and merry?

There is a shadow to Christmas. A shadow of death and a shadow of foreboding. MAtthew tells us the somewhat horrific tale of a slaughter of the innocents. And Luke has Simeon warning Mary that a sword will pierce her soul. They do seem like odd readings for the SUnday between Christmas and NEw Year's, a time when people are celebrating teh Holidays

BUt consider teh setting of the stories. THe Christmas story, teh JEsus movement, the Christian Story put out a challenge to those who use their power to rule over and tramp on others. Jesus is born into a world where dissent and opposition are dealt with violently and viciously.

There is in fact a somberness to the Christmas story when you think about it. Despite what some may wish, it is not just sweetness and light. THe Christmas story only makes sense when we remember the riskiness of the venture. CHristmas is about turning the world upside-down after all.

December 24, 2007

In Search of Light

A story/monologue for Christmas Eve.

(Darkened stage, sitting in “living room” singing “Tomorrow Christ is Coming” verse 1)

“the world is full of darkness” What appropriate words to sing in the middle of a power outage.

I hate the dark. Always have. It makes me uneasy when I can’t see clearly. I guess you could even say I am afraid of the dark. Everything sounds strange, everything seems creepy.

And really that is what I dislike about winter. I don’t mind the cold and I love snow, even shovelling it doesn’t really bother me. But those short days and long nights drag me down. I try to plan a trip to sunnier places each year, just to get out of the dark.

SO I really wonder about Christmas. People keep telling me it is a festival of light but then why is it at such a dark time of year? Why not celebrate light when there is a lot of it?

Still, you know, here is something about dark I identify with. Maybe that is part of why I don’t like it so much. I see the darkness of the world all too clearly. Sometimes people call me depressing or pessimistic but I see it as realism. The world is a dark place. (sing verse 2 of TCCiC)

See what I mean. The hymn writer knows. For many people the world is always dark. People are being pushed out of house and home, people live in terrible places, children are born into lives that will be nothing but struggle and hardship. Of course they are “crying out for love”.

You know the other thing unsettling about darkness? In all my favourite books dark means evil or bad. As things get harder and harder Frodo and his friends go into dark places – Moria, Mordor – and they are fighting the Dark Lord. And over and over again Harry and his friends are warned about Dark Wizards and have to learn to fight against the Dark Arts. When Harry is in the most danger he is in dark places. Dark means bad in so many ways in books, in songs.

And I get that. When I say the world is dark it is the bad stuff I think about. It isn’t about light or brightness or even colour. It is the shadows. Shadows of poverty, or of unemployment, or of warfare, or of racism and discrimination. They are dark. And still we have Christmas in the darkest time of year. I just don’t get it. (start singing verse 3 of TCCiC)

Man this is depressing. And yet it is real. That must be why I have always liked this hymn. It just seems so much more real than so many Christmas carols. It takes seriously the problems of the world. But my is it bringing me down. (pause and listen) Hey, I think the power just came on. (turn on lamp) Hey great it has.

Gee that light feels good. Now to bring some light to my spirit. (open Hymn Book) Hey here is a different one. “Kindle a flame, to lighten the dark, and drive all fear away”. I like that idea. Instead of muttering about the darkness and getting depressed we should do something about it. That sure is better than sitting here and getting depressed about it. Still, what about Christmas? Why have a festival of light in the middle of the darkest time of year?

Anyway, now that the lights are back I better start preparing to read Scripture at church for Christmas Eve. (open Bible) Maybe that will help me understand. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.” Well that makes some sense. I guess you can’t appreciate the light unless you know what darkness means. Still the darkness seems so much stronger right now. Wouldn’t the darkest time of year make a good time to celebrate Good Friday? But then there is Easter, it doesn’t fit right now either.

What’s next? (flip pages) “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Well there you go! That explains it! We celebrate light in the darkest time of year because the darkness doesn’t win!

Do I believe that? Well I don’t know, the darkness seems so strong sometimes. Both as real darkness and as a metaphor the darkness seems really hard to beat. But I remember that even in the darkest night it takes very little light to be able to see fairly well. SO yeah, light is stronger than the darkness.

And really, even in those books the darkness was beaten. Of course that was the whole point of the plot though. But more to the point, the encounters Frodo and Harry and their friends have with dark forces make them stronger and wiser. Facing the reality of darkness helps them to grow.

In the end, it must be about hope and trust. If we truly believe that the darkness is weaker than the light then we can face it boldly and grow in the experience. If we doubt that light is stronger the darkness will scare and worry us. Christmas is the reminder that God’s light is the light in the darkness. SO yeah, it makes sense to celebrate it in the winter. Any fool can celebrate light when there is lots of it. IT takes faith and trust to celebrate light in the midst of darkness.

But I still prefer the light. I still wish the nights weren’t quite so long. But time for a new song, one that isn’t quite so dark. How about “Good Christian Friends Rejoice”
(exit stage, lights go on for the singing of the carol)

December 23, 2007

Joseph's Story

HEre is the story that was part of this morning's service.

Chaos? I’ll tell you about chaos! For months now my life has been one bit of chaos after another.

First I went to see Joachim to talk about arrangements for a marriage between myself and his daughter Mary. Planning for such a thing is at least disruptive and life-changing. But then, just as the arrangement is announced news starts floating around town that Mary is pregnant. Now that moves us quickly from simple disruption into chaos.

What was I supposed to do? If I cancelled our arrangement Mary and her whole family would be shamed. If I went forward I risked being labelled a cuckold and a fool before the marriage was even finalized. I wanted to do the right thing, but in the middle of all the voices telling me what to do I wasn’t sure what was right and good. It seemed that my life was crumbling around me.

You see I had chosen Mary on purpose. It wasn’t just a good business match between her father and I. It wasn’t that she came from a good family. Over the years I had come to know Mary and I sincerely liked her. We could talk and laugh together. I wanted to spend time with her. I certainly didn’t want to leave her to shame and possible stoning. I also didn’t want to give up on what might have been. My mind was a mess.

Then came the dream. The famous dream where an angel came to me and told me what was happening. So I went forward with the betrothal. Not that this lessened the chaos. I was called a fool and worse by people around the town. Mary and I were well on our way to being outcasts. Only the strength of my family reputation saved us. And Mary, well there was something about her that was different. She has always been a dreamer but after she returned from her cousin Elizabeth’s her dreams were grandiose.

And just as life was settling down it all got turned upside down. The blasted Romans, fools that they are, ordered that all of us return to the town of our forefathers for a census. Just another way to get taxes out of us I say. But no matter how foolish it was, we weren’t about to take on the Legions. So now the whole countryside was thrown into chaos.

Imagine half the population wandering the highways. The roads were beyond crowded, families got separated, people were almost trampled. But we had to go. Mary was near her time but still we had to go. So we made the long difficult trip to Bethlehem in the land of my ancestors. This was the time when the chaos was also a help. If the roads hadn’t been so crowded the journey would have been far more dangerous. Still, I was worried about my betrothed, quickly becoming my beloved. As we reached Bethlehem she was sure that the child was about to come.

Then, to make matters worth, there was no housing to be found. No where to stay, no idea where to find a midwife. If I thought things had been chaotic before, they were far worse now. Mary was about to have a baby and the only place I could find for us was a little hole where they kept animals. I felt like a failure.

That was the first time I was at a birth. It was hellish. There was screaming and blood and, well, chaos. I was beginning to wonder when I would know anything but chaos again. But then they called me over. I bent down and picked up this tiny little boy. He would be my son and I would be his father. And as I sat there in the straw beside Mary with this tiny bundle of cloth and flesh in my hands I was hit by a wave of calmness. Even last night in the midst of all that chaos I found a point of calm.

I know that life will not always be easy. I know that being a poor peasant under brutal Imperial occupation will often be disrupted and chaotic. But as long as I remember last night with that baby I will know that calm is possible. That is all I need to know. Calm is possible.

Mary's Story

This is the letter that was part of our service on the second SUnday of Advent, when we talked about MAry and life's changes.

My betrothed Joseph,

You must have so many questions, so many doubts. After all this isn’t how it is meant to happen. Just before our marriage is to be made official word comes out that I am with child. You would be well within your rights to cancel the agreement with my parents and leave me to my fate.

Joseph, you must believe me. I have no idea how this came to pass. It is a mystery to me. I know what the town gossips have been whispering in your ear but it isn’t true. I haven’t been playing the whore. Just out of nowhere I found myself with child. I understand that this is hard to believe, but it is true.

You asked what my feelings around this series of events were. To be truthful, I hardly know. At first I was afraid – afraid of how others would react, afraid for my life. Then I was angry. How dare God do this to me? Did I really have a choice? Would saying “no” have made a difference when the angel came (I did tell you about the angel right)? Then from somewhere, I don’t know where, I found the courage to say yes, although it was with a touch of defiance. Somewhere I had a flash of foresight about this child. Joseph, this child of ours (I trust I can say ours) can change the world. This son, I just know it is a son, will truly be a child of God. He will teach and do wondrous things. But in the end, my heart forebodes, he will die a terrible death. These things I discussed with the angel. No, these things I told the angel, but he had no answer to give.

My visit to my cousin Elizabeth was a blessing. It got me away from the gossiping tongues and accusing eyes. Elizabeth too had a flash of foresight about the greatness of our child. And I had another flash. My heart was moved into prophecy as our people knew of old. I knew somehow that God was doing great things, that God was moving mighty forces to turn the world upside down. And so I sang. Maybe no-one will remember my song but I sang of God who makes the weak mighty and lays the mighty low. Our son will be a revolutionary Joseph, a revolutionary I say.

And now, how do I feel? The first flush of defiance has faded. The fear remains. The eyes and tongues still stab me with accusation. True, your commitment to live out the deal you made with my father has lessened them somewhat but until we are truly married the fear will still haunt me. And I have indeed accepted my lot Joseph. Someday people will either curse or bless me for giving birth to the child I carry, the son I carry. But he will change the world. Thank you for standing by me Joseph. Thank you for taking the chance and being a father to this special child.

I remain your wife-to-be,

December 18, 2007

Looking Ahead to December 24 -- Christmas Eve

Our service this evening will be at 7:00.

We will hear Scripture in a variety of ways. Overall we will hear these readings:
  • Isaiah 9:2-7
  • Luke 2:1-20
  • John 1:1-5
  • Genesis 1:1-4

And of course we will be singing Christmas Carols:

  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  • Away in a Manger
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  • Good Christian Friends Rejoice
  • Joy to the World
  • Silent Night

Our theme for Christmas Eve is Christmas is Light in the Darkness.

Teasers: What are our darknesses this year? What does it mean for light to come into that darkness?

Christmas falls at the time of year when the nights are longest and the days are shortest. Darkness is a reality for us in the Northern hemisphere at Christmas. And so we string lights along our houses and trees. We light candles to brighten our homes and churches. We celebrate light and warmth in a dark cold season.

But of course darkness has a metaphorical meaning as well. As a metaphor darkness refers to all those things that rob us of abundant lives. Metaphorical darkness talks to our fears and our anxieties. Coloured lights and flickering candles aren't enough to deal with these. What cure does Christmas have for metaphorical darkness?

ISaiah writes: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. John writes: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. Our story takes light and darkness seriously. Our story reminds us that the light of Chirstmas is expressly for those who walk in the dark.

On Monday evening we will here some stories. We will hear the story of a magical candle and a boy waiting anxiously for his parents to get home in time for Christmas. We will hear from a person sitting through a blackout sharing his fears of the dark and his hopes for light. And in the stories may we hear the promise and hope of the Christmas Light. Hope to see you there.

Loking Ahead to December 23, 2007 -- 4th Sunday of Advent

The Scripture Readings this Sunday are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Isaiah 7:10-16
  • From the Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

The hymns this Sunday are:

  • #27 Tomorrow Christ is Coming (tune?)
  • #71 ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
  • #62 Once In Royal David’s City
  • #76 See amid the Winter’s Snow

This Sunday's theme is Christmas is chaos and calm.

Teasers: Christmas is so busy and noisy. Is there time to experience calm and peacefulness in its midst?

This is the problem those of us who are active in the church have. It gets hard to experience Christmas when we are so busy planning for it. Of course many parents know how that feels. Between special food to cook/bake and presents to buy and wrap and special functions to attend the time just flies away.

But if we take time out to stop and let it happen then we can still find the peacefulness and calm of the season It just means stepping out of the chaos for a moment. And that may be the healthiest thing we can do a lot of the time.

This Sunday we will hear Joseph's thoughts about chaos and calm in the Christmas story. Surely he will have some experience of chaos given the events he goes through. But what will he have to say about the calm? We will pray our way into the transition between chaos and calm. And we will take time to experience both some chaos and some calmness.

Christmas is almost here. In just a few days the Babe will be born. COme and prepare and celebrate with us.

December 17, 2007

Christmas Pageant 2007

Last Sunday was our Pageant and White Gift Service. Expand the post for pictures...

December 14, 2007

Christmas Quiz Answers

So, did you try out the quiz? Want to know how well you did? Expand and check your answers here...

1. d The Bible gives no record of their means of travel
2. c Matthew 1:18
3. b & c Matthew 1:19, Luke 1:39,56
4. d December 25 was selected late in the 4th century as the day to celebrate Christ's birth.
5. c Luke 2:1
6. c
7. c Luke 2:10 ("the angel said to them")
8. d Luke 2:12 (They didn't sing, they said. OK, if you picked c, we'll give you a point!)
9. e Luke 2:7 (We aren't told where Jesus was born, only that after His birth He was laid in a manger.)
10. d The Bible doesn't say anything about animals being present.
11. C
12. b He was fully human as well as fully God.
13. c Luke 2:4
14. e none of the above (Three kings are not mentioned in the Bible, only in songs.)
15. c Luke 2:12
16. e An innkeeper is never mentioned in the Scriptures.
17. The Bible doesn't say how many - only that Magi came bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh (see Matt. 2:12)
18. C astrologers who dabbled in the natural sciences
19. b Matthew 2:11
20. b Check it out!

19-20 correct: Congratulations! You can separate fact from fiction.
18-16 correct: Not Bad! Truth wins over tradition.
15-11 correct: Uh oh! You've been to too many Christmas plays.
10 or below correct: Ouch!

December 11, 2007

Looking Ahead to December 16, 2007 -- 3rd Sunday of Advent

This Sunday is our White Gift Service and Christmas Pageant.

Come join us as we sing and read our way through the Christmas story.

White Gifts will be passed on to the Christmas Cheer Campaign and the Food Bank.

Our Pageant this year was written by a United Church Minister in Saskatchewan.

December 10, 2007

A Christmas Quiz

How well do you know the Christmas story as told in the Bible as opposed to Christmas Pageants and Christmas carols? What are the differences? Expand the post and test your self (answers will be posted later in the season)

1 For the journey to Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph
a) walked
b) Joseph walked; Mary rode a donkey
c) rode a bus
d) who knows?

2 When Mary became pregnant, Mary and Joseph were
a) married
b) just friends
c) engaged
d) none of the above

3 When Mary became pregnant,
a) Joseph married her
b) Joseph wanted to dissolve their relationship
c) Mary left Nazareth for a while
d) an angel told them to go to Bethlehem
e) both b & c
f) both b & d

4 Christmas has always been observed
a) on December 25
b) on January 17
c) at Grandma's house
d) none of the above

5 Who directed Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem?
a) Herod
b) an angel
c) Caesar
d) the IRS

6 Just what is a "heavenly host"
a) an angelic choir
b) the welcoming angel in heaven
c) an army of angels
d) none of the above

7 How many angels spoke to the shepherds?
a) a multitude
b) two - Gabriel and Michael
c) one
d) who knows?

8 What song did the angels sing?
a) "O Little Town of Bethlehem"
b) "Joy to the World"
c) "Glory to God in the Highest"
d) none of the above

9 The baby Jesus was born in a
a) cave
b) manger
c) hurry
d) barn
e) who knows?

10 What animals were present at Jesus' birth?
a) cows, sheep, and camels
b) cows, sheep, and donkeys
c) lions and tigers and bears
d) none of the above

11 What is a manger anyway?
a) a barn
b) a place for hay
c) a feeding trough
d) a Greek term for the church nursery

12 When did baby Jesus cry?
a) when He opened the wise men's gifts
b) whenever babies usually cried
c) when the cattle started lowing
d) "no crying He makes"

13 Joseph's family was from
a) Jerusalem
b) Nazareth
c) Bethlehem
d) none of the above

14 Who saw the star over Bethlehem
a) Mary and Joseph
b) shepherds
c) the three kings
d) both b & c
e) none of the above

15 What sign were the shepherds to look for?
a) a star over the stable
b) a barn outlined with Christmas lights
c) a baby in a manger
d) both a & c
e) none of the above

16 What did the innkeeper say to Mary and Joseph?
a) "I have a stable out back."
b) "Come back after the holidays."
c) "There is no room in the inn."
d) both a & c
e) none of the above

17 How many wise men came to see Jesus?
______ (write in the correct number)

18 What in the world are Magi?
a) Eastern kings
b) magicians
c) astrologers
d) wise enough to follow the star
e) none of the above

19 When the wise men brought the gifts to Jesus, they found Him in
a) a manger
b) a house
c) Vacation Bible School
d) none of the above

20 In what books of the Bible will you find these fascinating facts?
a) Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
b) Matthew and Luke
c) Mark and Matthew
d) Matthew, Mark, and Luke

December 04, 2007

Advent Candle Liturgy 2007

This year we have a home-brewed set of Advent Candle liturgies. Expand the post to read them (all 5 are in the post so it will be long)

1st Sunday December 2Christmas is waiting and hope

Reader 1: Isn’t it Christmas yet? I’ve been waiting SO LONG
Reader 2: Not yet. Today is only the first Sunday of Advent. That means there are three more Sundays before Christmas.
Reader 1: 3 more weeks! Oh Christmas will never get here! I can hardly wait until it comes. I just get so excited when I think about what presents I will get.
Reader 2: Don’t worry, it will come soon enough. Besides, sometimes waiting for something before you get it makes it more special and exciting.
Reader 1: But I want it to be Christmas NOW!
Reader 2: You’ll just have to wait. Have you thought about what you want for Christmas?
Reader 1: Oh yeah. I want…
Reader 2: (interrupting) Wait, don’t tell me. I have another idea.
Reader 1: What?
Reader 2: Well it is time to light the first Advent Candle. What do you do when you blow out your birthday candles?
Reader 1: I make a wish
Reader 2: Well how bout, while we light the first Advent candle we all take a moment of quiet to think about what we hope happens this Christmas? Not just presents but all the things we hope for.
Reader 1: OK
Reader 2: (lights a purple candle then both readers return to their seats in silence)

2nd Sunday December 9Christmas is life-changing

Reader 1: You know there’s something about Christmas that I always find unsettling.
Reader 2: What do you mean?
Reader 1: I don’t really know. I just keep getting the sense that something big is about to happen, something that will change everything.
Reader 2: I don’t get it. Christmas is just Christmas. What could be about to happen?
Reader 1: Well I guess I think about when I became a parent. Everything was different from then on. I keep thinking about Mary and how this story changed her life.
Reader 2: But why would that mean your life would change?
Reader 1: It just reminds me of the possibilities. That’s it I guess. I think about Mary and her baby and I remember the possibilities of life. So many things are possible.
Reader 2: So the changes you think about could be a good thing?
Reader 1: Of course, but when changes happen then things are different. And well that is always a little unsettling. It can be good changes but different is different.
Reader 2: So what changes do you think will be coming this Christmas?
Reader 1: I don’t know, we never really know until they happen.
Reader 2: I wonder what next year will bring…
Reader 1: Well let’s think about what might happen and what we want to happen while we light the Advent candles. (readers light 2 purple candles then sit down in silence)

3rd Sunday December 16Christmas is carols and children

Reader 1: Do you know what my favourite part of Christmas is?
Reader 2: The chocolate?
Reader 1: No, watching all the kids get excited. I remember being so excited about what I was going to get and playing in the snow and unwrapping presents. You know I miss that a little bit.
Reader 2: Why do you miss it? Don’t you get excited anymore?
Reader 1: Well it isn’t the same as when I was young
Reader 2: Oh great, here we go again with the “Back when I was your age…”
Reader 1: That isn’t what I mean. I mean that there is something about Christmas that just goes with childhood. Now it isn’t as exciting as I remember it.
Reader 2: Well my favourite part about Christmas is…um…
Reader 1: the chocolate?
Reader 2: Well sort of, you know all the treats I get to eat. But really I like the music. I mean when else do we sing about red-nosed animals and talking snowmen and fat men on your roof?
Reader 1: And stars and angels and shepherds and a baby in a stable too right?
Reader 2: Well yeah, if you want to get all religious about it. But there are so many songs to sing right now. And I love to sing. We don’t sing very much any other time of the year.
Reader 1: You know, you’re right. I like the singing too. But I prefer to sing the Christmas carols from church, so yeah I will get religious about it.
Reader 2: I think we’re supposed to light some candles now.
Reader 1: Yep. Say what do you think those people out there like the most about Christmas?
Reader 2: Maybe they could think about that while we light the candles? (readers light 2 purple candles and the pink candle then return to their seats in silence)

4th Sunday December 23Christmas is chaos and calm

Reader 1: (carries a calendar) Let’s see, Monday is the recital, Wednesday afternoon is the school Christmas concert, Tuesday night is choir practice, Friday is the office party…(phone rings) Hello?
Reader 2: (standing opposite, holding a phone) Hi _____ I was wondering if you wanted to come carolling next Saturday?
Reader 1: No way. I just can’t do one more thing. I don’t know if I am coming or going as it is. I am not even sure what day it is. And I have to finish my shopping, and wrap the gifts and do some more baking
Reader 2: Relax. You know you really are doing too much. You need to take it a bit easier. How can you enjoy Christmas like that?
Reader 1: Relax? How can you be so calm? Life is just too busy. Maybe I will be caught up in time to celebrate Ukrainian Christmas.
Reader 2: Well I just got tired of running around like crazy throughout December. So I decided to do less baking, less shopping, and less “stuff”. Christmas still gets chaotic with all the kids and all the excitement but I make myself find the calm times as well
Reader 1: I should try that. Thanks.
Reader 2: I have an idea. Light some candles. And while they are being lit take deep breaths to help you relax. Then just sit for a moment in quiet.
Reader 1: I’ll try that. Talk to you later. (both “hang up” and then Reader 1 lights all 4 candles of the wreath, then both readers return to their seats in silence)

Christmas EveChristmas is light in the darkness

Reader 1: I hate this time of year!
Reader 2: What, you mean Christmas?
Reader 1: No, I love Christmas I hate the end of December. The sun goes down so early and comes up so late.
Reader 2: Well sure, but all that darkness means we can see the Christmas lights so much better. And did you see the full moon last night? That was awesome.
Reader 1: I guess so. It’s just that all the darkness makes me feel kind of depressed. And then with all the bad news we get these days it just makes it worse. Dark all around. I guess it makes it harder for me to feel joyful.
Reader 2: OK, but do you know what my favourite part about Christmas is?
Reader 1: The presents
Reader 2: Well after the presents. It is those lights people put out. Even the candles we light. All those ways we find to fill up the darkness.
Reader 1: But it is still dark. It is dark when we get up, dark when we have supper. It is dark most of the time.
Reader 2: So? Haven’t you ever noticed that it is easiest to see lights when it is dark? Even these little candle flames (lights the 4 candles of the Advent wreath) give off a lot of light when everything around them is dark.
Reader 1: You’re right. And look how they dance, like they are happy to be shining.
Reader 2: I think Christmas is that thing that reminds us that there is always light, even on these long cold nights.
Reader 1: Maybe. Anyway, while we light that middle candle why don’t we stop and think about the ways we can fight the darkness we hear about all the time. (light middle candle, return to seats in silence)

Looking Ahead to December 9, 2007 -- 2nd Sunday of Advent

The Scripture Readings for this week are:
  • Luke 1:26-46
  • Luke 1:47-55 (VU p. 898)

The Hymns this week are:

  • O What a Wonderful Gift (insert)
  • #16 Mary, Woman of the Promise (tune #2)
  • #46 Gentle Mary Laid Her Child
  • It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (insert)

This week's Theme is Christmas is life-changing.

Teasers: What does it feel like to have your life changed? What might Mary have felt through the Christmas story?

This week we look at Mary. We hear her tell her story of the angel's visit. We hear how her life was changed. Because let's face it Christmas changes MAry's life completely.

Then we will take time amongst ourselves to talk about what is life changing in our lives and how we approach change. After all, change is the one constant in our lives.

A common team-building activity is to divide into pairs and study each other. THen one partner turns away and the other changes something about his/her appearance. The challenge then is to see if the partner can identify the change. Interestingly, if the change involves removing something people tend to notice sooner than if the change is adding something or moving something.

We tend to think about change in terms of what we lose. But change can also be an opportunity. What are the lif-changing events in your life? What did you lose and/or gain in those times?

December 02, 2007

PArade Float

Yes the Parade was a week ago but the pictures just got taken off the camera. Expand to see them