Christmas Newsletter 2010 Follow a Star Mount Seymour United Church Inclusive, Inquisitive, Involved A Message from 1200 Parkgate Ave., North Vancouver, BC (604)929-1336 www.mtseymourunited.com our Minister A wise person recently said to me ―change- but right in front of my face as I stood staring at management is an oxymoron… You cannot that poster full of pictures. It makes me wonder manage change.‖ In the words we use in Godly how often Christ does come in my life, or in the Play with our children, the season of Advent is world, in the form of light in dark places, people the time we prepare to enter the mystery of in need, in unexpected grace and wisdom that Christmas. It could be said that mystery- changes our lives for the better. How often do I management is also an oxymoron. We cannot completely miss the moment and the mystery? manage mystery. Our theme for worship this Advent is ―Follow a The bible readings traditionally used in churches Star.‖ Throughout the season we will explore during the season of Advent, the four weeks that this theme to keep us on an intentional path of lead to Christmas, include many that suggest the watching and waiting for those places and ―Son of Man‖ meaning Jesus, will come when we experiences in which the coming of the Christ least expect it, like a thief in the night. It’s not child is most likely to be experienced. Those the most comforting imagery, but that’s not its places, as described in the bible will most likely purpose. The language is meant to invite us to be be in places where the lowly are lifted up and prepared, to be awake and at the ready to the hungry are fed, where peace is found and experience the mystery of Christ’s coming at any joy springs forth. Following a star, we hope, will time, in any place. It’s language that begs the open us to mystery that cannot be managed, but question, how do we prepare to be surprised? can be missed. And, what does it mean for Christ to come Advent Blessings, anyway? Nancy I only remember being completely caught off Follow a Star this Christmas… guard once in my life. I was 16 years old and Sunday Services @ 10 am heading off to party in the next town for a friend with Childrens’programming and nursery care that was leaving the country on a student exchange. Before we left town, my date drove by Events a mutual friend’s house and said he had to pick Nov. 27 9:30 am Advent Spiritual Retreat something up. I volunteered to go to the door. Nov. 28 4:30 pm All Ages Advent Event When the door opened the first thing I saw was a Nov. 29 7 pm Camino de Santiago Presentation large poster full of pictures of me. I was Dec. 5 2 pm North Shore Chorus Concert perplexed and couldn’t figure out what was going Dec. 11 11 am Turkey Lunch & Bake Sale on. Then 30 of my own friends jumped out from 7 pm Singspiration Concert behind couches and walls yelling surprise! Dec. 12 7:30 pm MSUC Choir(s) Concert Without my knowing, they had planned a party to Dec. 19 12 pm Flash Caroling at Parkgate send me off on a student exchange I was going Dec. 20 7 pm Blue Christmas Service on. It was a total surprise. Dec. 24 Christmas Eve Services The thing that remains with me from that 4 pm Families with young children experience is how completely unaware I was of 7 pm All Ages ~ Christmas Pageant what was going on not just right under my nose, 10 pm Candlelight and Communion Page 2 of 8 Advent Christmas 2010 Page 2 of 4 POTLUCK DINNER AND ADVENT WREATH MAKING NOVEMBER 28 AT 4:30 PM Prepare for advent at this all ages gathering. Bring your family and friends and a food dish for the Potluck Dinner. Sign up at the Action Table or email the office (firstname.lastname@example.org). (If you have your green advent wreath base from last year. Please write your name on it for re-use, by you. Bring it to the Office. Then all you pay for are new candles.(more environmentally friendly too!) SPIRITUAL RETREAT - SAT., NOV. 27 ~ 9:30 AM TO 1 PM Join Rev. Nancy as she leads a 1/2 day retreat to prepare your soul for the season of Advent. The theme of the retreat is ―The Star in my Heart‖. It will be a time to spiritually prepare for Christmas. Sign up at the Action Table or email email@example.com. The cost is $20, includes lunch and can be paid the day of the event. “First Star I See Tonight” Follow a Star ~ Sundays in Advent Mount Seymour’s Christmas Pageant 2010 Nov. 28: Starry Night: With hope we seek a star and walk in the Light of God Dec.5: Signs in the Stars: In times of darkness we find peace through the signposts that remind us we are not alone You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll ponder the true meaning of Christmas. Come witness the chaos Dec. 12: First Star I See Tonight: We celebrate and wonder that unfolds when a modern family every life as the Christ Child literally becomes the Christmas story! Be Dec. 19: Shine for All to See: The love of God flows careful what you wish for, on the first star you through us to the world see tonight, because it just might come true… Join us for one or both of our performances: December 12 at 10AM Advent Candle Lighting December 24 at 7PM (to use with your wreath) Each week as you light the candle you are invited to say All Ages Christmas Pageant these words: Thank you to everyone who has signed Living Christ, light of the world, give us the warmth of up to be a part of our Pageant this year! your love and the promise of your (hope, peace, joy or If you haven’t submitted a form, but your love). Fill us with joyful expectation and help us to share children would like to be a part of the group peace with one another and care for our world. Amen. performances, it’s not too late -- Please bring For each week, ponder or share with family and friends the them to church on Nov. 21 and Dec. 5, so that places you see (hope, peace, joy or love) growing in your they can rehearse with us during the regular own life or in the world. Children’s program time. On December 25th light a candle to represent the birth of If you’re creative or you like to shop, please Jesus, who we call the light of the world. As you light the volunteer to help with our costumes and props. If candle say these words: you’d prefer to assist behind the scenes, we’d Living Christ, light of the world, we give thanks for your love to have you on board as a stage assistant! coming long ago and still today bringing hope, peace, joy and love. Help us to live the Christmas story of goodwill Contact Bethel at (778) 887-1036 or in all we do and all we are. Amen. firstname.lastname@example.org Christmas 2010 Council News Page 3 of 8 Update on Music Minister Search On December 31st Brian Tate will officially finish his tenure with us as Music Minister. We will be very sad to see Brian go. In his time with us he has helped us become a congregation that sings with joy and enthusiasm. Under his capable leadership, both the Joyful Noise and Community Gospel Choirs have delivered uplifting and moving music ministry. What rich blessings we have received. A search committee has been formed to search for a new Music Minister. Members are Jen-Beth Fulton, Mary Sparks, Pandora Furniss, Olivia Santa- Croce, Anna Ashbourne-Bruder and Bryan Ralph. Their work will begin with an evaluation of the current music program early in the new year. In the meantime, our plan is to make an interim appointment from January 1 to June 30. Our purpose in making an interim appointment is to ensure that we have time to carry out a careful search for a new music director. We hope to announce that appointment in the very near future. There will be a farewell party for Brian early in the new year; watch the Sunday bulletin for details. educate ourselves on what resources we will need to A Message from our Council Chair continue our operations. At the end of the program we invited people to intentionally consider how they By Judy Ashbourne could support our day to day operations. People responded by increasing their givings where The message of the advent season - to be prepared, possible, giving through PAR and pledging their to be awake and at the ready – is a most appropriate time. Over the years, we have learned that it takes message for our church community as we move vast reserves of energy, imagination, creativity – and forward in today’s world. At the most recent event of funds – to maintain a vibrant church. Mark Devries the Emerging Spirit initiative ―Stepping Further Out – tells us in his book "Sustainable Youth Ministry" that Facing the Future‖ this fall UC leaders Keith Howard to maintain and grow a vibrant children and youth and Rob Dalgleish spoke of the many challenges and ministry, without burning out the changes that modern day church communities must leadership, requires the energy and support of one be prepared to meet. Both speakers encouraged volunteer for every 5 children, a full-time staff congregations to better understand their own purpose person for every 30 children and between $1,000 as well as the realities of the world in which they and $1,500 per year for every child. Research exist today. during the Daily Bread program informed us that it costs $894.16 per day to run MSU. In 2008 MSUC embarked on a bold campaign to better understand our purpose and engage more fully in our Now that the campaign is nearing its official end, we community. At the outset of our "Something's know that we have our work cut out for us, but we Happening Here" campaign we developed a vision that are prepared for the hard work. We know that our over the next three years we began to fulfill. congregation cares about the people and programs Together we raised the $500,000 we projected was at MSU. Others see that "Something's Happening needed to meet the goals of enhancing our music Here". When the General Council of the UCC program, building our children and youth programs, recognized that many churches require relief from fixing our building, supporting our staff, staffing for the burden VIM loans place on growth as well as the future and connecting with our community. We everyday operations, they, as well as the local have undertaken many capital improvements, Presbytery and BC Conference, all noted that MSUC supported Nancy in taking a well earned sabbatical, was a perfect candidate because of our daring plan developed a vastly improved website and our major to become a church that is fully alive. I look outreach initiative on the north shore is now forward to the new year as we continue to explore operational. And along the way we built stronger together how to become an increasingly vibrant and relationships with each other. relevant presence in our community. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy and Last fall, as we neared the final phase of our vibrant New Year! campaign, we put in place the Daily Bread program to Page 4 of 8 Outreach Christmas 2010 Meet Barbara Ralph The Giving Tree Thrift Shop Volunteer During Advent our Giving Tree will be in the sanctuary and will be used to receive donations of socks, sweat suits, underwear, gloves, razors, shaving supplies, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and shampoo. We will deliver these to First United Church and Lookout Shelter on the North Shore. Look for the tree on Nov. 28th! Need help with your Christmas How long have you worked in the Thrift Shop? shopping? I started about nine years ago. The Mission and Outreach Team have some What do you do there? suggestions for those of you who have to shop for I help mostly with the pricing of donated goods and someone that has everything. with the turnaround of seasonal stock that happens Or like many of us who would like to cut back on 4 times a year. consumerism, we encourage you to give a gift that keeps on giving. What do you find most rewarding about your work? We will have gift-giving envelopes ready for your I am pleased that we are able to sell very reasonably donation to: priced goods to people who really appreciate them. The United Church Mission and Service Fund First United Church in the downtown eastside I also have the opportunity to pass on goods that we North Shore Lookout Shelter are unable to sell to a group of new South American Ten Thousands Villages immigrants in New Westminster. Just recently I delivered a television to a single mom with 5 Your gift, in someone’s name, will help so many children from Guatemala. She burst into tears of people that may have very little, or nothing, at happiness and said she had never expected to own a Christmas. Check out the website links for more television in her lifetime. information on these organizations. It is wonderful to see the difference the Thrift Shop makes in people’s lives. Frail Elderly Bus Program Our Campaign Outreach Project is up and running Thanks to Barbara and the many volunteers that help in partnership with Parkgate Community out in the Thrift Shop during the year. We always need Services. Check out the article in the North Shore volunteers to sort and price goods during the week and News on our website or on the bulletin board. to set up/take down and sell on Thursdays. Contact Gladys (604)929-2917 if you can help. Volunteers are needed to meet the participants at the mall and assist them with shopping. Training for volunteers will be done by Parkgate Community Services. Contact Erin Smith at (604)983-6376 or email@example.com to For more alternate volunteer. For more information, talk to ways of celebrating someone on the Outreach Team or call Joyce and giving this Jones at (604)987-0168. Christmas, check out... Our Thrift Shop has raised $55,188 year-to-date for First United and our church.www.buynothingchrist Thanks to the over 60 Thanks to the Outreach Team for getting this mas.org volunteers that help out in the Thrift Shop during project off the ground and running! the year. We always need volunteers to sort and price goods during the week and to set up/take down and sell on Thursdays. Contact Gladys (604)929-1917 if you can help. Christmas 2010 Study Groups Page 5 of 8 Living the Questions2 this mystery may just be the new challenge of an Reflection educated and thinking Christian. By James Fulton As an engineer, with a scientific predisposition to [Bible study ?? Who me?? No way!! worshipping at the alter of scientific, provable fact I’m spiritual, not religious!] and a love of mystery - especially those mysteries which have to come to a logical conclusion, in a set Last night, we ended LTQ with the session 21 amount of time or effort, this is quite a tall order. entitled ―Embracing Mystery” which also advised Over time, it seems, we naturally delude ourselves that the ―Mystery” refers to something into concluding that all mystery has to be solved unexplainable and beyond comprehension: in other instead of embraced as we are now being asked. What words, it is beyond humankind’s ability to see and a relief, after a lifetime of having to suspend my define. Wow! belief in so many things holy to no longer have to try and resolve logically the more puzzling of Almost one year ago and some 52 session hours Christianity’s many, many conundrums. earlier, LTQ, Chapter 1 had invited us on “An Invitation to Journey” opening with a quotation by Over this last year our diverse group of between 10 Robert Louis Stevenson that “To travel hopefully is and 20, including a number of our friends from St. a better thing than to arrive” and concluded with a Clare in the Cove have met regularly, expressed open quotation by Harold Beck that “Asking questions for and vulnerable ideas in a caring, comfortable and which there are no answers is the beginning of trusting environment, so very capably led by Nancy wisdom.” and Wade. My own apprehension at sharing my faith beliefs for the first time with others in a group On this basis our group could certainly be considered instantaneously evaporated in creation of an inquisitive but, have we become wise[r]?? environment where we explored new thoughts about Christianity without being given all the answers or Could it be that after a year of striving to find a being told what we have to believe. clean and simple answer to The Complete Theory of Everything, I am now instructed that it is mystical, To be able to share with our group the collective unexplainable and beyond anyone’s ability to see theological wisdom and thought of 30 of our leading and define, apparently returning me to my starting religious voices at the forefront of a new emerging point. Moreover, we are also called to a far greater Christianity is a privilege beyond measure. faith to seek and to trust that which we accept as infinite, beyond our comprehension and subject to What an incredible challenge our leadership faces in change: and also that to retain a faith in the face of ministering successfully to the huge diversity of opinion this new exploration creates. Perhaps the greatest gift to me, after a lifetime of The Nearly Legendary supposedly heretical thought was to realize that those Men’s Turkey Lunch voices of greater theological minds than mine had shared similar questions to mine without diminution of and Bake Sale their relationship with their God Dec. 11 ~ 11am –1 pm To paraphrase one of the greatest scientists of all Don’t miss this lunch cooked time: and served by the men in our congregation. Bring your friends and family! ―The most beautiful and profound emotion we can Contact Alan Furniss (604-929-4585) if you can help experience is the sensation of the Mystical. It is the with the lunch and/or cook a turkey. sower of all true science.‖ He or she to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and Donations of home baking and preserves are needed. stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.‖ You can sign up at the Action Table or email the office Albert Einstein to donate baking. They can be dropped off at the Our longing to be connected to Mystery connects us to kitchen on Friday, Dec. 10 from 9 am – 7 pm. Contact one another and the hope for a world renewed. Doreen at (604)929-3561 to help. May it be so. Page 6 of 8 Events Christmas 2010 A Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago Presentation – Monday, Nov. 29 from 7-8:30 pm Sept. 17-18, 2010 Workshop was Amazing… The sacred gifts workshop was very exciting and In May this year, Allison Rennie and Diane Ransom interesting. I would recommend it to anyone of any walked 500 km on the Camino de Santiago, an ancient age. Discovering your sacred gifts and finding new pilgrimage route across northern Spain. Join them for opportunities in your life can be very eye-opening. an evening of images, sound and prayer as they share Many of us have sacred gifts that we don’t even stories from their life-changing journey. Over realize we have. Many of us have more than one 200,000 pilgrims walked this trail in 2010. Allison gift at the same time. Many of us discovered and Diane have offered their empowering leadership reasons that we were unhappy with ―dream‖ jobs. and passion for creating community in the United It was especially helpful to me, a 15 year old, Church and other settings for more than 25 years. because I realized early on what gifts I had, so that I could follow the path of my gifts. The workshop itself was just as amazing as the results. Many people, from all walks of life showed up - 15 year olds to grandmothers. There was something there for everyone. Many were unhappy with their current jobs, or parts of their life. Others, like me, were simply curious to know what it was all about. Everyone went away with something; knowledge of their gifts, a new understanding of their life, and even plans to use their gifts in the future. Eye Care Mission This is one workshop everyone can use. Philippines – Nov. 2010 Submitted Olivia Santacroce About 30 people (20 from our congregation) gathered on a Friday night and all day Saturday to participate this workshop led by Monique MacDonald (www.yoursacredgifts.com). We learnt about 24 biblically based sacred gifts and how to recognize and appreciate them in ourselves and others. We made a plan on how to use our gifts and looked at the blocks that keep us from following through. Contact Kathryn in the Kathy McKay, church member and TWEC volunteer, office if you are interested in exploring your performs an eye test in Barangay Santa Rita. scared gifts. TWEC (Third World Eye Care) volunteers brought 12,000 pairs of donated glasses and performed over 1,600 eye tests on their first three days. Kathy sends a great big thank-you from the indigenous Aetas for the clothes she brought from our "Treasures Thrift Shop." Find out more about the mission at www.twec.blogspot.com Christmas 2010 United Church Mount Seymour Page 7 of 8 Page 7 of 7 Thoughts from EVOLVE 2010 BLUE CHRISTMAS SERVICE Youth Conference – Nov. 11-14 Monday, Dec. 20th at 7 pm It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was a teenager, Rev. Nancy and Music Minister Brian Tate will but when I witnessed 4 straight days of 200 youth bursting with energy in every song, dance, and offer a service for those for whom Christmas is spiritual practice they embodied, I realized just how not an easy time. If you are grieving the loss of a aged I had become. loved one, struggling with an illness of the body, mind or spirit, overwhelmed with the pain and I was given the privilege of accompanying 3 of our suffering of our world, or simply finding it youth to the Evolve Conference in Naramata where difficult to cope with the season, this service is we were embraced into a community of youth, young for you. If this is not your personal need, you adults, and youth leaders who gathered together to might consider whom you might accompany or celebrate, build relationships, and be nurtured. invite to attend. The service will be a gentle time of singing, ritual and prayer with ample I thought that I was supposed to be a ―leader‖ during time to hold before God those people, places this time, but I was mistaken. The passion for God and concerns that weigh heavily on our hearts. and one another flowing out of these bright-eyed Please join us for what will surely be a time of youth was what inspired and guided me throughout rich blessing. the weekend – their joy was infectious. May the Church be infused with such enthusiasm and delight, now and in the year awaiting just around the corner~ Submitted by Bethel, Family & Children Minister Falling Star CHRISTMAS CHOIR CONCERT Do you remember still the falling stars that like swift DECEMBER 12th at 7:30 PM horses through the heavens raced and suddenly leaped This annual event will feature several across the hurdles of our choirs: Joyful Noise, the MSUC wishes--do you recall? Community Gospel Choir, the Youth And we did make so many! Choir, and the Children's Choir. The For there were countless numbers of stars: concert will also feature Christmas-carol each time we looked above we were astounded by sing-a-longs—come with friends, the swiftness of their daring play, families, and strangers—it’ll be a fun and while in our hearts we felt safe and secure festive time for all! watching these brilliant bodies disintegrate, knowing somehow we had survived their fall. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke Mount Seymour United Church Page 8 of 8 The SpiritFusion Curriculum blessed with very skilled facilitators and many in the group regularly worship and learn together. Writing Experience You might ask how someone, particularly from as By Jen-Beth Fulton far away as Australia, had chosen our Community of Faith to assist them in the creation of this The first weekend of October at Mount Seymour material. This was partly due to our very striking United Church was spent by varying sized groups from Website and what it tells about our ―Experiencing about ten to twenty people helping the Seasons of the the Sacred in Community.‖ As well as the word of Spirit Curriculum editing and writing team, Susan Burt, mouth value placed on Nancy’s leadership of Australia, Diana Scorer, Bowen Island, Keri Wehlander, courage and integrity. Every participant, affirmed Penticton and Cathy Talbot, Vancouver Island, to the value of gathering together in this way to create intergenerational worship and study sessions for study and work with Scripture in the context of our the 2012 Northern Hemisphere Fall Season. lives together, our yearning for experiencing the Sacred in Community, and the challenges of life in The ―intent‖ for the weekend was to ―break open‖ 12 the 21st Century. What a privilege. focus texts with up to three supporting texts from the international liturgical readings, ―in a fresh and The Team joined us in worship on Sunday Oct 3rd. meaningful way for 21st century audiences, through and they expressed their feelings of joy and listening for God’s voice in the voices of one another, appreciation for the inclusivity of children and all the voice within, and the voice of the wider that took place that day in the context of rich community; to leave with weekly themes identified, worship experience for the Community as a whole. and kernels for creative, inclusive, inspirational worship, learning and serving opportunities for congregational life‖ This was all done through a process of hearing, wondering and imagining. Hopefully, experiencing through this work the MSUC’s First Ever ―transforming nature of the story‖ FLASH Caroling The first text we considered, and wrestled with, was Sunday, Dec. 19 at 12 pm Mark 9 verses 38 -50, which, amongst other more positive images, has verses 43 to 47 saying, ―If your Parkgate Centre (by the Library) hand causes you to stumble, cut it off……‖ etc. etc.. One person wondered how and why we would read this text in the presence of children, one called it a ―text of terror‖ that did not portray a God of unconditional love which is what we teach. Another asked how a newcomer to the church would hear this and how do passages like this affect the welcoming environment of the church. Someone else asked the questions, ―what causes me/us to stumble – what do we need to let go of? What would a loving God want me to cut out of my life? How do we explore this reading metaphorically, rather than literally?‖ We felt an acute awareness of hearing this text in the midst of violence in the world; that it was re-directing us back to ourselves, our relationship with God, our spirituality, and a consideration of the reading as addressing our Bet you’ve heard of flash mobs. Well, if you haven’t, unsustainable ways of living on this planet. What might this is Wikipedia’s definition: the metaphors for us be today? (―If your carbon footprint is….then it is better to…..‖) Also spoken of ―A flash mob is a large group of people who assemble were recent stories of young gay people taking their suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action own lives. for a brief time, then quickly disperse.‖ As you can imagine, this conversation needed a So…plan to sing with us after worship on Dec. 19. trusting environment in which to happen. We were Invite your friends and family. Let’s make it a big mob!