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18
November 18, 2019

I missed being with my church family – I really did! Yesterday was just not the same for me. Which makes total sense, since I spent the weekend at Clergy Retreat and most of my Sunday on the road travelling back from Stratford. Don't get me wrong, our – my – time of worship was good. But there is something about being in your home church with your church family that makes things . . . I don’t know . . . not comfortable, but . . . satisfying, maybe? Regardless, I was with those of our "extended church family" – other pastors from our district – and was encouraged as I was with them for the weekend, to fellowship and re-connect.

Unfortunately, Pastor Charmaine of the Bridlewood Church was not able to be with us – her back is troubling her and she was not able to travel. Pray for her as she recuperates. Pray also for Pastor Bob McLellan of our Shelburne Church, and for his family. Pastor Bob has been undergoing treatment for cancer. Unfortunately, it has spread from his prostate into his kidneys and his liver. He too is experiencing great pain.

The theme of the weekend was "dealing with anxiety". Rev. Albert and Rev. Christine Hung (Albert is District Superintendent of the Northern California; his wife Christine is District Director of Pastoral Development) led the sessions.

We are blessed at Trinity Church with a core of young people who have accepted the challenge to ministry leadership. I appreciate Matt for sharing the message yesterday, and the worship team for their faithfulness week after week as they bring us into the presence of God. I am also thankful for those who were leaders in the past and who are encouragers of this generation.

I have not received a copy of Matt's message yet, but will post it on our web site and on our Facebook site when I do.

Call it not a missed opportunity – call it a delayed opportunity! Our message this coming Sunday morning – as we conclude our series on things we don't talk about in the church – will deal with a number of the isms that are part of our society, and have in some ways entered the mindset of the church. We must be aware of our biases and our prejudices, especially in light of what the gospel has to say.

The missed opportunity was a great illustration of bias from last week's Coach's Corner. We'll take it [the opportunity] this Sunday as we look at The Isms and Theism . . . with a bit of a nod to Don Cherry.  

You don't need me to point out that the countdowns along with  the frayed nerves that come with the busyness of the season have all started. Even though the first Sunday of Advent is two weeks away, the Christmas frenzy is upon us (with Black Friday to come). Our own calendars fill quickly, so please note the dates and times of our own church activities for the Christmas season.                                                                                                          

  • The first Sunday of Advent is December 1 . . . we'll gather for our annual Festive Fellowship meal out following our service.
  • The second Sunday of Advent is December 8 . . . we'll celebrate communion in our service as we prepare our hearts for the season.
  • The third Sunday of Advent is December 15 . . . our day of musical celebration. Everyone who would like to share a special Christmas song or reading is welcome and encouraged to participate – please see Matt as we look forward to a great time of congregational worship. 
  • We will gather for our annual open house and fellowship at the parsonage in the evening [beginning at 6:30pm].
  • The fourth Sunday of Advent is December 22 . . . a time of worship and wonder as we look to the manger and the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.
  • Christmas Eve we'll gather for our candlelight service . . . a time of joyous reflection of the incarnation. Our service will begin at 7pm.
  • Our year end service is a service of remembrance of the year past and a look to the hopes and dreams of the future. 

There are certain times that people are more open to an invitation to attend a church service than other times. To attend a baptism, for example. A wedding. A funeral. There are certain times of the year that people are more open, too. Easter. And Christmas.

Even though the secular celebrations overshadow the spiritual celebrations of the season, the "religious nones" – people who don't attend and say that they aren't interested in church – and the "religious somes" – those who don't attend but say that they are spiritual people – often connect with the Jesus of their past at Christmas. Such people are more open to an invitation to a church service during the Advent season, especially if there is a definite reason or an out-of-the-ordinary event to attend. They find a connectedness with other people in a church service. They find comfort in the rituals or in the songs or in hearing the Christmas story once again. They find a peace that they might be lacking. But many of them will not take the initiative to go to a service. They are uncomfortable. They feel like intruders. But they will attend if invited.

This December, with all of the different activities at our church, might be your opportunity to invite someone to an event where they won't feel threatened.

It can be easy to focus inwardly at Christmas and a challenge to focus outwardly, but we want to do just that: to look outside of our own wants and desires and to be aware of others in the world around us that may not have the opportunities that we have. We deliberately focus on being compassionate people.

We can be aware of the opportunites that we have as a denomination. The 2019-2020 Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Canada gift catalogue can be found on-line [click here to access a copy; you can also pick one up from the table at the back of the sanctuary]. You can give through the church or directly to NCMC either on-line [click here] or by mail. 

You might also want to think about a reverse advent calendar. Instead of opening a door to take a treat [mmm, Lindt chocolate!], place a non-perishable food item in a basket each day of Advent and at the end of Advent take the basket to a food bank. Or come up with your own unique idea to make Christmas more giving than receiving.

The Sixth Annual CHRI Pajama Drive is underway. The station is asking for donations of new PJs, which will be distributed through local and rural food banks and to given to families who face difficult challenges such as poverty, addiction, domestic violence and mental health challenges.  The Pajama Drive will continue until the end of February. Click here for more    information.

You might be interested in the Alta Vista Cooperative Nursery School's winter fundraiser: Purdy's chocolates. Click here to go to the order catalogue – you'll have to sign in or open a new account – the customer number is 37568. It might take a while to get used to the site and find your way around it. Orders must be made by November 27; pickup is December 13.

It is still Movember – a month of fundraising for men's health and the search for cures for cancers specific to men. I have Movembered for the past 10 years. I do not set a specific fundraising goal, but do invite those who wish to support me to  click here to donate. Thank you.

The renewed FreeShare/Care and Share ministry is operational! Our Facebook page is up and running, and a few available items have been noted. Instead of having items stored at the church and opening the building once a month for people to come and see what is available, we'll post pictures of available items on this Facebook page and have people make arrangement for pick-up. 

If you have "gently used" items that you no longer need and would like to give to someone who has a need send an e-mail along with a picture of the item to the church or to Emmanuelle, who is going to lead this ministry initiative.

Sundays Ahead . . .

  • Nov  24   The Isms and Theism – bias
  • Dec     1   Advent 1: In the Flesh
  • Dec     8   Advent 2: In Our Hearts        
  • Dec   15   Advent 3: Christmas Musical Celebration
  • Dec   22   Advent 4: In Glory
  • Dec   24   Christmas Eve Candlelight Service: In the Manger
  • Dec   29   Remembering

Christmas Events and Activities

  • Dec     1   Advent 1: In the Flesh
  • Dec     1   Festive Fellowship, following our service.
  • Dec     8   Advent 2: In Our Hearts        
  • Dec   15   Advent 3: Christmas Musical Celebration
  • Dec   15   Parsonage Open House, 6:30 pm
  • Dec   22   Advent 4: In Glory
  • Dec   24   Christmas Eve Candlelight Service: In the Manger
  • Dec   29   Remembering