It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas! Our advent musical activities kicked off this week with the first advent recital, followed by another absolutely amazing Choir festival featuring 14 choirs and bringing in over $4000.00 for ‘CBC Feed A Family’. What a wonderful way to get our advent season rolling. There is even more music this coming week with our second Advent recital on Wednesday, December 13th at noon and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Dec 15th at 7pm.
We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported the Angel Tree and those who brought items for the pantry last week. Your support of these programs is a great way to reach out and serve in our community ensuring that families in need have a joyful Christmas and that nobody goes hungry.
Last Sunday we were invited to take a moment to think about what it would have been like to be refugees, forced to leave our homeland and all that we have known. We were called to remember that this is what happened to Jesus’ family shortly after his birth. And that through this exile from home, God is faithful and our practices are touchstones to remind us of God’s presence. In God’s presence we find hope. Did you know that St. Paul’s has a long history of helping refugees? Right now there are two families in Fredericton that the interchurch refugee committee (IRC) are responsible for until the end of July in 2018. For each family the IRC is involved with Wilmot, Forest Hills and St. Paul’s share the financial load for supporting families for one year, however one congregation signs the sponsorship documents and is the legal contract holder. St. Paul’s is the signing congregation, for one of our current families. It has taken 6 years since the sponsorship agreement was signed for this family to come to Canada! Sometimes it seems like waiting the 4 weeks of advent is a long time to get to Christmas, could you imagine living in refugee camp for 6 years knowing that you were someday going to go to your new home? This family consists of a Father, with three now grown girls and a 3 year old grandson. The other family is from Syria and consists of a Father, Mother, 5 year old daughter and 6 month old son. You may have seen the announcement in the bulletin about supporting the IRC. With two active families there is a great need for financial support to help fulfill our commitment of supporting and keeping these families. If you can, even a small donation of $5 would help provide the basics of food and shelter for these families who for reasons beyond their control have had to leave everything behind in their search for peace. Making a donation is as easy as marking part of your offering as going towards the Refugee Committee or writing a separate cheque and placing in an envelope with your name and envelope number on it, or seeing Cathy in the office throughout the week.
We extend our sympathy and ask that you hold Don and Margaret Fletcher and their family in your prayers as they mourn the death of their daughter Gillian. A service to celebrate her life will be held at St. Paul’s this Saturday (Dec. 9) at 2pm.
Back in September we mentioned that this year we, along with the worship committee had chosen to use the narrative lectionary this year. A lectionary is a prescribed set of readings for each Sunday. The narrative lectionary seeks to chronologically tell the biblical story so we can see more fully how God has been at work in the world. For many of you advent signifies the first time you have noticed a significant change. Some of you are wondering what these “new” readings have to do with preparing for Christmas? Well at the most basic level they are the stories we have from the time before Jesus birth, they represent and tell us about the context that Jesus was born into and set the stage showing us why God needed to resort to becoming incarnate in the first place.
This Sunday is Peace Sunday, we will hear the scripture of how dry bones on what had probably been an ancient battle field, are filled with new life. As we hear the scripture from Ezekiel 37:1-14 let us consider how the new life breathed into the bones is like the new life that God started by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb and the new life that her baby would bring to all humanity who on our own seem to only be able to live in valleys of death.
As we continue to move closer to the manger and the great gift we find there let us pray, God of peace, as we rush and fuss during this season help us to hear your call to slow down and stop, That we may feel again your Holy Spirit blow through us, clearing out our anxieties, our grief and our guilt. For you seek to prepare us for the wonderful gift of peace, a peace that is more than the absence of violence and strife. As we wait for the Prince of Peace to come again, make space within us that we may welcome him with open arms. This we pray through the one who is to come. Amen
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Michelle and Rev. Richard
Also the bulletin for this week can be downloaded from here