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St. Stephen United Church Newsletter Advent 2007 Friends: It‟s late November, and the countdown to Christmas has begun (how many shopping days? How much time to prepare for the big day?). Pressure mounts as we consider the chronological hours and days to December 25th. But what of the holiness, the sanctification of time and the season? Christians understand that God‟s in-dwelling spirit calls for odd ways of keeping time. The purpose of these rhythms is to sanctify time, to experience life as holy. Rather than chronological time, we forget the biblical notion of time as the place where God abides. Like the Sabbath itself, the Christian year shapes us to seek God in a „sanctuary of time‟. So Advent arrives not as a season just to be filled with preparations for one day, but as an opening, a window, into the surprising advent of Christ‟s coming among us wherever and whenever, here and now. In Advent, we redefine the profane time in which we live. “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is near” (Mark 1:15). God is with us! We are not alone! Be open and prepared for God‟s coming! Learning to live each day as part of God‟s new creation occurs during the most hectic season of the year. Our calendars are filled with “to-do” lists; crowded calendars are confused with holiness. But these days of Advent can be transformed into holy moments as we take time to look and prepare for God‟s breaking in upon us each moment, and what this means for our lives. Further, the genius of the Christian year at Christmas is sanctifying the 12 day celebration after Christmas. We can‟t cram all the joy and festivity of God-with-us into a single day. And we don‟t need to bemoan the ways in which Christmas has been hijacked by retailers and marketers. On Dec. 26th, everyone assumes that Christmas is over. This opens up the 12 days of Christmas for us to live in time that is marked by God‟s presence – the season of Emmanuel, God-with-us. Imagine finding creative ways to live in the season of Incarnation – perhaps 12 simple meals (possibly hosted by 12 families), or a 12 day Christmas calendar to celebrate each day, or 12 offerings of service by each family in response to God‟s gift of love, or 12 days to centre ourselves in prayer and draw closer to God-with-us. If we give shape to the 12 days of Christmas, might others not catch on as well? We can shape our memory of time, as we discover again the true meaning of Christmas – that it‟s not just time that‟s sanctified, but our lives as well, as we prepare for and celebrate Christ‟s coming among us. God bless you in this season of preparation and joy. Keith Mark your calendars…………look what’s coming up! Candy Cane Kitchen Saturday, Dec. 1st (9:00 am – 2 pm) Baked goods, Deli Table, Artisans, Grannie’s Cupboard, Christmas Table, and Lunch Room. Donations for the bake and deli tables can be dropped off Friday, Nov. 30th after 6:30 pm and if necessary before 9 am on Saturday. We appreciate your contributions. White Gift Service Sunday, Dec. 9th Any items listed on the Wesley Centre suggestion list; canned juice, baby food, cereal, diapers, toy/gift ideas would be most welcome. Also, if preferred, an envelope will be inserted in the Dec. 9th bulletin for a cash donation. The need is great and we expect that there will be many families needing support again this Christmas season. Christmas Poinsettias Envelopes will be available in the pews if you wish to donate a poinsettia in memory of a loved one. Place your donation in the envelope and place it on the offering plate. The Christmas flowers will adorn the sanctuary for the season. Women’s Group - Christmas Pot Luck Tuesday, Dec. 4th at 6:00 pm The men as well as the women of the congregation are invited. Only prerequisite is everyone has to bring their favorite dish! Come share in the camaraderie and joy at the beginning of the Christmas season. Family Christmas Party Please join us on Saturday, December 15th at 5:00 p.m. Turkey will be provided. Bring along your favourite vegetable casserole, salad or dessert. Santa Claus has confirmed he will be coming. 50th Anniversary Committee Update.... The 50th Anniversary Cookbooks have been for sale for a few weeks. They will make a wonderful Christmas gift – be sure to pick one up soon. The cost is $10 per book. Many folks are looking forward to the Santa Claus parade this weekend as St. Stephen will be represented with a float! The dinner dance committee continues to make plans for the Gala Event on January 12, 2008. Tickets will be on sale shortly. Please mark the date on your calendar and plan to invite your family, friends and former members of the church to celebrate with us. It will be an evening of entertainment, dancing and reminiscing. Dave Dalgleish’s band “RagTop” will be providing our dance music. There will be a silent auction as well, and donations of quality items or services will be gratefully accepted. Our 50th Anniversary celebration worship service will be held on Sunday, January 13th. Lunch will follow the worship service. During the worship service on November 18th, we listened intently to the brief, yet very interesting stories of Zambian travelers. Watch for details regarding an evening in January to hear and see more about their trip!. ~~~~~ From your Outreach Committee. . . „Tis the season‟ - once again the Wesley Centre is in need of warm hats, mittens, gloves, or other warm articles of clothing. The mitten tree is in the narthex just waiting to be filled with items. Individually wrapped candy is also needed and a box is located in the narthex for donations. Please submit by December 9th. ~~~~~ Annual Reports Another year is almost over and once again it is time to think about our Annual Report. It would be appreciated if all groups that meet at St. Stephen could have their reports submitted to the office by December 31st. ~~~~~ Financial Update…. Our General Envelope Offerings for the year to date are down about $9,000. from our Budget. While December offerings are historically much higher than a normal month, this will be a significant shortfall to overcome. Expenses continue to be wellcontrolled, about the same as the previous year. So, it will take an extra effort from everyone for us to reach a breakeven position by year-end. Please do your best to help. Travel News from our Zambian Group…. OUR CHRISTMAS SERVICES Sunday, Dec. 2nd 10:30 a.m. Communion and Memorial Service Sunday, Dec. 9th 10:30 a.m. White Gift Service Sunday, Dec. 16th. 10:30 a.m. Worship 7:30 p.m. St. Stephen Choir and children will present a cantata “The Birthday of a King” (refreshments will be served) Sunday, Dec. 23rd 10:30 a.m. Worship Christmas Eve 5:00 p.m. Family Service 10:30 p.m. Christmas Caroling and Cider 11:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight/Communion Sunday, Dec. 30th 10:30 a.m. Family Carol service Sacrament of Baptism Jesus' Dad's Name A Sunday school teacher asked her class, "What was Jesus’ mother's name?" One child answered, "Mary." The teacher then asked, "Who knows what Jesus' father's name was?" A little boy said, ”Verge." Confused, the teacher asked, "Where did you get that?" The child said, "Well, you know they are always talking about Verge n' Mary”.
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