Mennonite Church Alberta - News Bulletin, 2005-12-14
There is a hush that comes on Christmas Eve - Life's hurry and its stress grow far away;
And something in the silence seems to weave A mood akin to sadness, yet we say
A ‘Merry Christmas' to the friends we meet, And all the while we feel that mystic spell,
As if the Christ Child came on noiseless feet, With something old, yet new to tell -
The eyes grow misty, yet they shed no tear, And those that we have lost, somehow seem near.
GREETINGS AND THOUGHTS FROM OUR LEADERS
This Christmas season I have been humming two familiar pieces of music and I am struck by the majesty of the words
and the tunes affixed to them.
From Handel's Messiah - the passage taken from Isaiah 9 - “And he shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty
God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”. We recognize the Christ child to be the fulfillment of that promise.
The other carol that runs through my mind is “O Come all ye Faithful - Joyful and Triumphant....O Come let us Adore Him
- Christ the Lord.” These are powerful and magnificent songs of the season, and inspire us to praise the Prince of
In recognizing this, we are reminded that in our world the “peace” Christ brings doesn't seem so near for many. In our
celebrations, let us keep those persons in our prayers - those close to us and those far away. Some are dealing with
work related or farming stresses, others are mourning the absence of loved ones, or suffering from poor health. Too
many are experiencing war and its consequences. We must pray for those who incite the wars - they are also loved by
the Prince of Peace.
Let us be the faithful in working together to bring the Peace of Christ to this world - understanding that so much can be
done through Him - Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Marguerite
I think all of us would agree that we want the Advent season to be one of spiritual renewal. But if you are anything like
me it is so easy to let the spiritual message of Christmas be "fogged" by all of the extras. By extras I mean the shopping,
the crowds, the deadlines of Christmas mailings, the anxious care of preparation for family gatherings, the extra travel for
some, even the traditions such as the tree, the decorations and the special foods. Don't get me wrong, I love it all for the
most part, but I can do without the crass commercialization!
What has been helpful for focus on the real meaning of Christmas this year, has been our Advent Theme- "God's
Unstoppable Purpose". It was helpful for me (and I hope for the Pastor's as well), to walk thru the Advent Scriptures
during our devotional times at our last Pastor's gathering which happened to be just prior to Advent.
This year with the fate of the four Christian Peacemaker Team members still unclear at this writing, the Advent Scriptures
are a reminder, that while we live in a world system that is often hostile to God's way of peace, His Purposes will
ultimately prevail! Isaiah 64 is a reminder in spite of our sinfulness that God will break through the heavens on our
behalf. Isaiah 40 reminds us that though we are weak frail human beings, He will gather us in His arms like a Shepherd
carrying his lambs.
Isaiah 61 reminds us that Justice and Salvation will prevail, just as gardens cause seeds to grow. And the person closest
to the birth of Hope, Mary, could foresee in Luke 1 the mighty hand of God which overcomes all the powerful strongholds
of this world.
Keep these wonderful scriptures in front of you and let them "Pierce the Fog" of all those Christmas extras!
Jim Shantz, Conferance Pastor
REFLECTIONS FROM OUR PASTORS
Tofield Mennonite Church - Bob Crosland
Running, running everywhere. Try Walmart, how about Sears? Maybe Canadian Tire! Surely this is the trail to follow,
this one will lead to what we are looking for. But what are we looking for? Part of the Advent preparation includes
scriptures about John the Baptist. “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John...He himself was not
the light, he came only as a witness to the Light.”JN.1:6-8
John the Baptist came so to speak, as a compass. He came showing people the direction to the true destination-Jesus
Christ. In this endless running and buying, it is easy as Christians to forget we are compasses. We need to point people
in the right direction during Christmas-Christ!
For our church, as a way of helping those around us, we have had at Thanksgiving, and now at Christmas, a Food
Hamper box. It has overflowed a number of times-joyously. We have also made and sent 106 school kits (a joint project
of our ladies and the Sunday School), health kits and numerous bags of blankets, pieced and tied from recycled
materials. Merry Christmas to all.
Lethbridge Mennonite Church - Ruth Preston Schilk
My parents have the gift of hospitality. If people happen to drop by, they ask them in, often inviting them to stay for a
meal. They've been honing this gift for a long time. As a child and teen living at home, and even later when I returned
"home" as an adult to visit, I was impressed with who would be invited to our home. Certainly guests included
neighbours, family, friends, and among these were also the single minister and her son, the three older bachelor
men who always occupied the back pew at church, the "city" neighbours who came up from Toronto on weekends,
the in-laws, the out-laws, those who talked a lot, and those who could not speak. There wasn't (and isn't) anyone
who would not be welcomed-anticipated or not-into their home, regardless of the tidiness of the house or the
plainness of the menu that day.
At Christmas, we are reminded to welcome Jesus again (or for the first time) into our hearts. "O come to us, abide
with us, our Lord Immanuel!" It's easy to make room for Jesus, especially as a baby, but let us also make room in our
lives and homes and churches to welcome the others who were present at Jesus' earthly beginnings--those who
make a bloody mess, the ones who track straw onto our floors, the VIP's. May we say to all: ‘Come on in, you're
Calgary Vietnamese Mennonite Church - Chau Dang
I have been meditating on the “angel's song” and this has given me some ideas about Christmas:
* The purpose of Christmas is to bring God the glory through Jesus' ministry, restoring people to the original condition,
healing and completing God's plan of salvation
* The result of Christmas: Peace on earth ,reconciling between God and humanity, the inner peace for those who have
Christ in their hearts and peace to their earthly fellows
* The blessing of Christmas: God's goodwill toward men. It begins the era of grace, no more condemnation for those
who are in Christ.
In November, the Calgary Vietnamese Mennonite church packed and sent 430 Christmas shoe boxes to Samaritan's
Purse. The Christmas Eve service will be held on Dec 24 at 6:30 PM. The English congregation will host a Christmas
evangelistic service on Christmas Day.
Also, we have just decided to go ahead with the expansion of our church building. Merry Christmas to all!
Foothills Mennonite Church - Doug Klassen
Ever notice how much ‘Christmas music' speaks of dreaming? “I'm dreaming of a white Christmas” sings Bing Crosby;
Frank Sinatra sings “I'm Christmas dreaming a little early this year”. I think it is Perry Como who sings, “I'll be home for
Christmas, if only in my dreams”... And then there are the stories too: T'was the Night Before Christmas, “ kids had
visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads”...and even the “little Who's down in Whoville” were having sweet dreams.
I think it is a fine thing that our culture associates this holiday with warm and homey sentiments, and a time where we
encourage kids, and everyone actually, to wish and to dream of what could be. I think there is something very special
about Christmas celebrations going on inside warm houses, beside the fireplace while the snow is gently falling outside,
and everything seems to be a dream - picture perfect.
And yet, when I read the Gospel accounts of the first Christmas in Matthew and Luke, there is a very different
tone there. There is Christmas dreaming here too, powerful dreaming in fact, but the nature of those dreams is very
different from “Dreaming of a White Christmas”. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, has a dream/vision so powerful
that it leaves him mute. Mary has a dream where she is told that she will become pregnant out of wedlock. Joseph has a
dream that tells him of Mary's child, and that he is to follow through on his engagement.
A lot of Christmas art depicts Jesus' family as icons stamped on gold foil, with Mary calmly receiving the angel's message
almost as a benediction, and Joseph receiving the message of his dream with a serene, contemplative look. And though
the confidence and the assurance did come in time, it didn't begin that way. In both dreams, the angels are quick to say,
“Do not be afraid.” First, because it is not everyday that an angel appears in our dreams, and second, the message that
was coming was not about homey images of chestnuts roasting on an open fire or yuletide carols....the messages that
they were receiving were deeply disturbing in their nature. The message brought ‘evangelion'...the “good news”. Yet, as
John Howard Yoder once said, the best way to understand the ‘evangelion' that the angels brought, would be to think of it
in terms of ‘revolution'. A word, I might add, that is still in desperate need of being broadcast today.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he
will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Calgary First Mennonite - Marv Thiessen
In a recent church newsletter at First, I wrote about a poll taken by the Pew Research Center in the United States. In
this poll, 50% of all Americans said the government should help more needy people, even if it means more national
debt, while 39% of “committed” evangelicals (defined as those who attend church at least weekly) say this.
(source: Christianity Today, March 2005, p. 22) Does this mean that those who attend church at least weekly are
less compassionate than other people?
Not necessarily. The numbers might not relate to Canadians at all. Or they might say that “committed” evangelicals
trust the government less than the general population and wish to practice their generosity on their terms instead of
on the government's terms. Or they might indicate that “committed” evangelicals are more fiscally responsible than
other people and object to the section of the statement that says they would support government going into debt in
order to help the poor.
Whatever the case, it is interesting to think about what such a poll says about people and it should give us pause.
Whether we think it is for us or for our government to do, we should be in favour of compassion. The prophet Micah
asked what the Lord requires of us and he answered, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your
God.” (Micah 6:8) It seems to me that if all of us followers of Jesus were to take those words seriously, we might
say yes to the question of whether our government should do more to help needy people. In addition to that, and
even though we might already expect a bigger tax bite, we would dig into our wallets to give assistance to the needy
beyond that which the government is doing. We tend to do this at Christmas. Compassion does quite well at
Christmas. But it ought to be a year-round condition.
Edmonton First Mennonite - Tim Wiebe-Neufeld
Silent night...All is calm...All is bright...Sleep in heavenly peace... We sing the words together as our program draws to a
close. The words are so familiar--we've sung them hundreds of times. But tonight is different. Tonight they trigger a rush
of thoughts and feelings, as the world awaits news of the fate of four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams held
hostage in Iraq. Tonight all is not bright. Deadlines have passed; the calm is foreboding, the silence ominous. Where is
this heavenly peace of which this song speaks? It seems no one is free from the threat of violence in our world--and
tonight, certainly not four men speaking words of peace in the face of brutality and war. We know that freedom from
violence was also certainly not the case for the tender, holy infant. The joy of Christmas masks the winding road that lay
ahead for the newborn King. There would be a flight to Egypt, confrontation with authorities, and eventually a rugged
cross. The world would conspire to kill God's son and his message of peace, hope, and love. But the world
underestimated the power behind that message and the strength of the God of life. When all seemed lost, the power of
God entered the world in a bold new way. No one on earth could have predicted the nature of the coming Kingdom, and
the depth of the sacrificial love upon which it is built. No one on earth could have predicted how Christ would overcome
death, and so clearly demonstrate the victory of light through the resurrection. By the time these words are read, we may
know the fate of the four kidnapped peacemakers. What may not be as clear is how God may use their faithful actions
and the convictions that led them to pursue peace, no matter what the personal cost. Whatever the short-term outcome,
no one can predict the full impact these events may have on each of us and on our world. What we do know is that at
Christmas we celebrate that God entered our world as a tiny child, a glimmer of light in the darkness, a promise of hope
And we know this promise was realized in ways that went beyond all expectation. May we live our lives in the light of
that promise, and may God use our own actions in some small way to bring hope and peace to all the dark places of the
Trinity Mennonite Church - Erwin Wiens
Meaningful Christmas memories certainly involve family gatherings. Since both Marian and I come from large families,
we have a flood of memories, dating back to childhood, of large gatherings with lots of love, laughter and fabulous food.
However, the most memorable Christmases are the ones in which strangers of friends became part of our celebrations.
Early in our marriage we served with MCC in Kenya - which of course meant being separated from our families.
However, the large MCC family in East Africa became a wonderful substitute as 30 of us roasted gazelle over a large
charcoal fire in our back yard followed with homemade ice cream.
Many years later, while living in Ontario, not all our children were able to come home for Christmas. We filled their places
at the table by inviting a foreign student couple plus a recently released prisoner. This past summer I met this man again
and one of his first comments was, “That was the most memorable Christmas of my entire life”! Amazing what memories
the gift of a pair of socks and a turkey dinner can make!
Last year we were living in Korea and none of our children were with us. While we dearly missed being with family, nine
young Canadians working in Seoul, were only too happy to serve as our surrogate family. And the misadventure of the
Christmas turkey will bring laughs between us for years to come.
While the original Christmas focused on the holy family, it certainly included strangers like shepherds and travelers from
the East, along with temple devotees and worshiping widows. May God surprise you, and your family, with the rich
blessing of strangers in your life this Christmas.
Re-examining our Traditions - Marv Baergen, Missional Formation & Congregational Partnership Facilitator
Our culture's shift from Christendom to Post-Christendom is never more sharply delineated than during the Christmas
Season. Every year we hear people bemoaning that schools don't have enough (or perhaps any) Christian symbols in
their Christmas programs anymore. Recently there has been more debate about politically correct greetings. Merry
Christmas is out, Season's Greetings or Happy Holidays is in. One does not want to offend non -believers or followers of
other faiths, after all!
Christmas trees, the giving and receiving of gifts, gatherings of friends and families, eating (and overeating) and merry
making have long been part of our Christmas traditions. But if we take a moment to think about it, what do Christmas
(Holiday) trees or ever more extravagant gift exchanges have in common with the Christ child, born in a barn to a couple
of impoverished Jewish peasants?
Jesus talked a lot about money and generosity, often with the suggestion that one should give anonymously and to those
not in a position to reciprocate (see Luke 14:12 -14). One rather recent tradition which I think more and more people are
finding to be more in keeping with God's Gift to us, and Jesus' teaching as well, is to give a gift to the less fortunate in
place of gift exchanges between those “who already have everything.” Both MCC and Mennonite Church Canada have
put out some excellent gift giving ideas for this Christmas - even options for whole families to participate in! Check them
Holyrood Mennonite Church - Hugo Neufeld, Pastoral Advisor
.A few years ago we decided to save our Easter lily by planting it outside after it had bloomed in spring. Unfortunately, the
leaves all shrivelled up and I thought it had died. Then in the fall just before the frost, under the dried up plants, I noticed
some fresh green sprouts emerging. Wow, why not take this plant inside for the winter? Maybe we'd have our own lily in
time for next Easter.
But did the plant ever grow! By early November we were totally shocked to see a flower bud emerging. There was no
way we could stop this surprising burst of growth.
The first of Advent a flower emerged. Shouldn't we have the bright red poinsettia rather than an Easter lily? Advent 2
the second pure white flower unfolded. Then the third and finally the fourth flower broke open, just in time for
What a powerful message! The white flower that we have come to associate with the risen Christ, was now connected
with the celebration of the Christ child in the manger. Isn't that the way it should be?
As we move toward the celebration of the miracle birth, it is easy to sanitize the cute little baby Jesus with “no crying he
makes.” Too easily the reality of the unpleasant parts in the Christmas story are glossed over - an actual birth in a crude
stable, a feed trough for a cradle, fleeing as a refugee to another land. God's unstoppable love moved through the
pleasant as well as the tragic parts of the story, which eventually ended up in the death and resurrection of Jesus. God's
life-giving force will also permeate the realities of our own lives that carry both joys and tragedy, and that is the Good
news of Christmas.
Bergthal Mennonite Church - Elwin Garland
A - Authority. Advent is a proclamation that God is the ultimate authority over life and Salvation
D - Divinity. In advent we affirm the divinity of a babe born in a stable.
V - Vulnerability. Though God could have come in any form or way to redeem humanity, God chose to come in
human yet divine form as a vulnerable baby.
E - Eternity. Through this babe called Jesus, God chooses to offer eternal life to those who believe in him and on him. It
is the prelude to Easter
N - Near. It is a promise that God will always be near to us through the gift of His Spirit
T - Timbrels. Advent is a time to worship God in unique ways primarily because we use exclusive hymns and carols not
associated with other times of the church year......and........
C - Jesus Becomes Christ. As trite as it may sound, Jesus is still the reason for the season.
H - Humour. Humour is rich tonic for an ailing spirit. Often we may reject the humour that God provides for our health
instead of welcoming it.
R - Relationship. Advent and Christmas are all about relationship, God to us, us to God and us to creation which
obviously includes each other to each other
I - Interruptions. The Christmas story: God interrupts the lives of ordinary people for the purposes of God.
S - Servanthood. Jesus the babe grew to be the suffering servant for humanity.
T - Time. Christmas and advent, if I allow it, provides us with time to remember softly to ourselves times gone by and the
present time we are given.
M - Miracles. God still does miracles both large and small.
A - Answers. Advent and Christmas remind me that I have more questions than answers but the one answer that I can
be certain of is this, Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.
S - Sovereign. In spite of everything that happens in this world - good and bad, God will always be sovereign.
Springridge Mennonite Church - Jerry Buhler
Our Advent theme this year, "God's unstoppable purpose," nudges us to examine our impact on God's purpose. As
God's presence arrives into our lives in new and surprising ways, do we contribute to a rough path or a smooth one? Are
we potholes, speed bumps, obstacles, icy patches, dark spots? Or are we lenders of light, levelling agents, salt and sand
of traction, reliable road maps?
In families, communities, conferences and countries that increasingly need the peace of God, let's respond to the
Christmas invitation to be peacemakers and instruments of God's good will on earth. Hidden behind society's Christmas
charades of lavishness and festivities lurks its true message of consuming as much as possible, for as little cost as
possible. In contrast, God's people are the ones who are called to know how to break open the jar of expensive perfume
and kill the fatted calf.
As Christmas approaches, lets be models of celebration and generosity, by purchasing fairly traded gifts, tipping
generously, and shouting with the shepherds.
Our Christmas project this year is to contribute to MCC's Central America Emergency effort.
Farewell - My farewell to MC Alberta is softened by the fact that we're simply moving to the neighbouring province of
Saskatchewan and my work will keep me in touch with MC Alberta. I sense a hopeful anticipation and an energetic spirit
combined with very committed leadership and clear vision in MC Alberta. I'm grateful to have had the privilege of sharing
in this conference and will always treasure its input in my formation. Best wishes and divine blessings to all.
- Jerry Buhler
CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES IN OUR CHURCHES
Rosemary Mennonite Church - Cindy Paetkau “The Story of Christmas”
This is the title of the Sunday School Christmas play this year and we are rejoicing as we remember this great gift God
gave to us, His Son, who allows us to be restored to a loving relationship with our God!
Preparations to celebrate this Christmas are in full swing . Here are some of the happenings: Kindergarten to Grade 6
are busy with rehearsals with the Sunday School play, Sr. Youth will be doing some carolling to share the joy of
Christmas with others. Our Annual Music Night is on Dec. 18th and many are busy with rehearsals for this. One care
group collected for the local Food Bank as they had their Christmas party and another Bible Study group filled a few
hampers with baby items for the Brooks Pregnancy Care Centre. These are a few of the ways we are trying to reach out
and share of God's great abundance. The Sunday School kids also collected shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
As we plan family ‘get togethers' and celebrations we also pause to remember those in difficult circumstances. Some of
our congregation are dealing with serious illness or have recently lost loved ones and our hearts go out to them. Our
prayer is that many will experience the true joy and peace found in Christ this Christmas We wish all of you a very joyous
Christmas and God's blessings in the New Year.
Foothills Mennonite Church - Dorothy Dick
The long awaited Christmas season is here and for the past number of Sundays our worship services have been
centred on Advent themes - we already have enjoyed many of our traditional activities and are eagerly anticipating more!
On. Dec. 3, five church choirs and an enthusiastic audience sang the songs of Advent at the Inter-Mennonite Advent
Service; the evening ended with a rousing rendition of the Hallelujah chorus by a large ‘volunteer' choir! An offering of
$1,500.00 was gathered for the work of Mennonite Disaster Service. The UBJ's [Seniors] Christmas banquet featured
the choir from Menno Simons Christian School - and also a Christmas tree decorated with mitts, scarves and toques for
homeless people - monthly our church hosts fifteen homeless individuals -often families with small children - for
overnight stays through the Inn from the Cold program.
On December 3, our annual Christmas Banquet, a wonderful turkey meal was prepared by the Senior Youth, and their
hard-working and talented parents under the direction of Shami and Deanna Willms. We sang carols and stepped back
into the 50's to hear the story of Christmas through the eyes of some of our more mature members. Our Sunday School
presented its annual program on Dec. 10; during the Advent Sundays, the Sunday School has been collecting items for
Newborn Kits to be distributed through MCC.
We welcome all to an evening of Christmas music presented by our Senior Choir on Dec. 18., and to a Christmas Eve
service of scripture, music and singing. For Foothills, the year 2006 marks the 50'th anniversary of our church - be
prepared to come worship and celebrate with us, June 3 - 5,2006!
Lethbridge Mennonite Church - Fred Unruh
Our 2005 Sunday School Christmas Celebration on December 11 featured drawings by the children and youth of our
church in a PowerPoint drama presentation called “Our Christmas Album”. The young artists of our Sunday School
were invited to portray various scenes in the story of Jesus' birth with drawing, paintings, or collage art work. Their
creative pictures were projected on screen for all to enjoy. Five youthful narrators, assisted by young actors who
helped dramatise familiar scenes, presented the biblical Christmas story in the language and perspective of children.
The script for “Our Christmas Album” was a collaboration between children and adults in the congregation. Several
familiar Christmas carols were included in the drama so we could all share in celebrating Jesus‘ birth. All the children
played some kind of instrument accompanying the carol “Little Drummer Boy”. And, of course, the evening
concluded with the sharing of Christmas baking and festive beverages. A silent auction of the art work of our talented
children gave us an opportunity to affirm the creativity we experienced in worship.
Our children have been very busy creating original art this early Winter. They also produced the art work for each
month for a limited edition 2006 calendar. The calendars, a project of our children's activity program called
WWW.COME, were sold at $10/each as an offering project for the Lethbridge HIV Connection Society. The Society
provides leadership in building individual and community capacity to respond to HIV and Hepatitis C in South-
Calgary First Mennonite - Betty Wiehler
A quick look at our church bulletin this week reveals that we are asking our church people to participate in a variety
of special giving opportunities during this Christmas period. The Sunday School has chosen MCC health kits as
their Christmas giving project this year so we are all being invited to donate contents for these kits. In addition to
that, we have an annual tradition of filling paper box ‘Pigs named Pete' with coins and bringing those boxes to the
Christmas Eve Sunday School program. The proceeds of these boxes are given to Leprosy Mission Canada for its
ongoing work in compassion to those who suffer from leprosy. Also this past Sunday, we invited people to contribute
money for food hampers. The deacons have ongoing contact with various people who request food help from our
church and they will put together hampers of food for distribution to some of these people. And that wasn't all. Our
annual Christmas banquet takes place on December 17 this year. One of our traditions for this banquet is to have a
silent auction of donated items. Most of the items donated are of the home made or home baked variety. The
bidding at the silent auction can become quite spirited (in a quiet way!) and the substantial proceeds are given to our
youth group to be used for a mission/service project. Are we asking for too much? Our experience says that we will
see good responses and generous giving and that mercy and compassion are alive and well at First Mennonite.
Edmonton First Mennonite - Deb Baergen
This year the Edmonton First Mennonite Church Women in Mission Stuffed adult socks as Christmas gifts for inner
city males. The items stuffed into the “40 below” socks included toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, hairbrush, soap, lip
balm, shampoo, conditioner, razor blades and shaving cream. We decided to add a few extras. We included
deodorant, Kleenex, candy, band-aids, hot chocolate, chicken soup, gloves, toque; whatever we could fit in. We tied
the socks with Christmas ribbon, added a tag and delivered them to the Mustard seed Church downtown. We hope
our little gifts will bring some “comfort and joy” to people who don't have a lot this Christmas.
Holyrood - Millie Glick
How then do we share? For the advent season, a tree is put up at the front of the sanctuary- bare branches at first.
The "Mitten Tree" takes on colour as new mittens for inner city persons decorate its branches. The Christmas Eve
"Christ Gift" offering is divided between local and national needs.
Once upon 2002, a Holyrood family began the tradition of an annual family service project. This Christmas they
chose school kits since seven of the eight grandchildren are in school and understand MCC's appeal for school
materials. All five kids were part of the Holyrood church family in their growing up years. The parents have made
Holyrood home for forty years.
From Indiana, Oregon and Alberta, the clan will make 20 kits - one for each family member. Grafted into the family is
a Vietnamese couple, who join enthusiastically in family planned activities. What will this family choose next year?
Bergthal Mennonite Church - Diane Jonson
This year as I sat and watched the Sunday school rehearse for their Christmas pageant I took the opportunity to
reflect upon the evolutions that have occurred in my own Christmas experience. I remembered times of excited
expectation and also times of nervousness and also feelings of dread. For many Christmas is a time that follows a
pattern that has been built and followed for a lifetime. The simplicity of remembered events seems to have escaped.
Technology has increased plunging us into a world of unlimited possibilities and information. This has seen many
people from diverse traditions joining together striving to create an experience that is comforting or meaningful for all
with in the advent time frame. The immensity of that vision has resulted in demands that pull in so many directions
that the purpose of the exercises sometimes becomes lost. The rush and demands of December can leave a feeling
of being stretched beyond coping, all the while hoping deep within to find meaning or purpose. There I was one of
those over-extenders sitting with pen and paper next to me jotting notes for this newsletter, my cell phone ringing to
finalize arrangements for later that day, a needle and thread in hand making last minute alterations to costumes and
to add the finishing touches to an advent banner. Somewhere with in the swirl I was looking to experience the joy of
Christmas! I knew I was not alone in the throes of demanding schedules yet the program directors had managed to
assemble most of the cast to practice. It was the familiar story but presented in away that seemed to confuse many
of the participants!
Observing the children trip over words and fumble with costumes, looking uncomfortable and struggling to remain
focused and quiet was surprisingly refreshing. The noise and confusion were probably quite authentic to the
atmosphere surrounding Jesus' birth. It was amazing to watch as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. It was a
marvel how the leaders had put so much thought and effort into matching a role to each individual, there was space
for every one to contribute in a meaningful way. By the time the dust had cleared, the noise had ebbed and the
production had taken the shape of another great presentation the kids had filled the entire church building with a
wonderful joy. They had shared in creating a new memory that would shape their personal Christmas traditions. By
sharing themselves with their peers and the adults present they had captured the essence of Christmas. The
unimaginable gift that God gave was being celebrated in the relationships forged by those gathered round. The
interactions were priceless. I quickly whispered a pray that experiences shared this Christmas will be as life
changing for all of us children of every age shape and size as it was for the figures that lived the story we celebrate
Our church leadership has also put effort into presenting a Christmas experience that is meaningful in many different
forms. We have already been treated to a display of over 150 nativity scenes, a ladies program and the children's
pageant. Still to come is an evening of Traditional Caroling, a Blue Christmas Time of Hope and Healing, Christmas
Eve by Candlelight with Song and Scripture and a Celebratory Christmas Morning complete with dinner. All are
warmly invited to attend any or all of our services. For dates, times and details please contact the church office at