December is surely upon us and the weather is an indication. I looks lovely outside, but be safe when walking or travelling.
We have begun our Christmas decorating at home. The house is beginning to look festive; the tree will go up this weekend. And the sound of the Christmas carols from our many CD's are full of joy. I trust that you too are preparing for the upcoming season of Christmas in ways that are meaningful to you.
Last Friday, the Uxbridge Climate Action
sponsored a rally in front of the Town Hall
as part of a global awareness raising around the world.
Three of us from St. Paul's participated.
The mayor and deputy mayor stopped to chat
and engage in conversation around the town's
approach to this important issue.
This happens each Friday at noon.
Watch for more events and information sessions
planned by The Uxbridge Climate Action
as well as deputations before town council.
Thank you to Marianna who will be working with our children
during the 930 service
to prepare with them dances to tell the Christmas story
at the family service Christmas Eve.
Be sure to bring your children out
so they can participate fully!
This year, St. Paul's will support three families
for Christmas ...
1. A mother and two year old daughter
2. A mother, father, 7 year old boy and 3 year old girl
3. A mother, father, sons 19, 15 and 12 and daughters 16 and 11.
We have also received two $30 Butterball turkey certificates
for the two larger families.
Gift tags are on the wreath at the entrance to the church.
Please have your donations back by December 15th
for packing and delivery on the 16th or 17th.
Thank you for your support of this important ministry!!
Community Choir Christmas Concerts at St. Paul's
"One Voice Singers" ... Friday Dec 6 at 7 pm & Saturday Dec 7 at 3 pm ... "Christmas is Coming"
"Uxbridge Chamber Choir" ... Sunday Dec 8 at 3 pm ... "Winter Nights"
Wednesday Dec 4 ... noon; Community Lunch at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Wednesday Dec 4, 11 & 18 ... 7 pm; Advent Candlelight Communion services Thursday Dec 5 ... 10 am; Communion followed by bible study at Mae's Thursday Dec 5 ... 7:30 pm; Choir practice Saturday Dec 7 ... 8:30 am; Men's Breakfast followed by putting up the Christmas tree in the church Sunday Dec 8 ... 8:15 am Traditional Quiet Communion; 9:30 am "The Table"; 10:45 am Classic Sung Communion Thursday Dec 12 ... 10 am; Communion followed by bible study at Mae's Thursday Dec 12 ... 7:30 pm; Choir practice Sunday Dec 15 ... 8:15 am Traditional Quiet Communion; 9:30 am "The Table"; 10:45 am Classic Sung Communion Sunday Dec 15 ... after 930 & 1045 am services; TAB bake sale Sunday Dec 15 ... 2 to 4 pm; Christmas Open House at the rectory Sunday Dec 15 ... 4:30 pm; Community Christmas Carol Sing Monday Dec 16 ... 1:00 pm; Coffee & Chat at Tin Cup Tuesday Dec 17 ... 9:30 to 11:00 am; Church is open for quiet, meditation and prayer Thursday Dec 19 ... 10 am; Communion followed by bible study at Mae's Thursday Dec 19 ... noon; TAB Christmas Lunch at Scrambles Thursday Dec 19 ... 7:30 pm; Choir practice Saturday Dec 21 ... 7 pm; Longest Night Service Sunday Dec 22 ... 8:15 quiet communion service & 10:30 am (note time change) Choir Cantata "Emmanuel" Tuesday Dec 24 ... 10:30 am; Douglas Crossing Christmas Communion ... please note time change Tuesday Dec 24 ... 4:30 pm Family Christmas Communion service ... 10:30 pm Carol Singing ... 11:00 pm "Almost Midnight Communion" Wednesday Dec 25 ... 10:00 am; Christmas Day Communion Sunday Dec 29 ... 8:15 quiet communion service & 10:30 am Communion with Carol singing
"Challenges or Opportunities ..."
We so often face challenges in life that are daunting, overwhelming and cause us to feel anxiety and stress. We also often learn that those challenges are in fact opportunities that open a different way of being and an alternative way of living which in the end is far better than we could have ever imagined. Although stressful at the time, these moments can be a gift when we are ready to receive the newness of life God is opening before us to embrace.
A couple of weeks ago there was a report released about the future of the Anglican Church of Canada. It was startling, although not news in the statistics that were presented. It said that over the past 40 years, our church has been in sharp decline and that that trend is only expected to continue even more rapidly. The bottom line was that given the past and expectations of the future, the Anglican Church of Canada could have only 20 years left. That presents a challenge for sure ... or could it be an opportunity?
There is no doubt that the church is going to need to continue to change and adapt to the times we are in. I don't doubt for a moment that the church as we know it may well die out. But our faith is based on the belief that out of death comes resurrection and new life. There are opportunites in these next years to begin examining now how we can transform the church to engage communities in way that keeps us relevant, present, visible, active and engaged. As an integral part of the fabric of our communities, there will, I believe always be a need for the message of hope and promise the church has to offer. For sure this is a challenge ... but I think there's an opportunity here as well.
This past week we met as the budget working group for St. Paul's. We are always aware that we are living beyond our means and that revenue from donations, while increasing, isn't enough to cover our expenses. This is a concern in the long run as we draw each year from the capital of our investment bequest. This too presents a challenge going forward ... or could it also be an opportunity in how we steward the abundant resources God has blessed us with.
In the midst of all of this, our children's ministry is in a moment of crisis. Thanks to Marianna who has volunteered to work with the children throughout December. The question that remains is what then? I think this again is both a challenge and an opportunity.
A proposal is being considered by the wardens, which will be presented more fully before vestry to the parish, to hire a family ministry coordinator. This person would work and minister to both children and their families. Their job description could include Sunday School, correspondence & follow up with baptism families, monthly games and movie nights for families, summer vacation bible school, march break and PA day activities ..... and who knows what else. There would be an element of outreach too in looking to reach children and families that are not part of the St. Paul's community.
If we pass this at vestry, the cost will become an expenditure requiring a matching revenue. There are grants from the Diocese we can apply for. The remainder will need to come from our investment bequest. What we are trying to do in this is see the reality of our children's ministry not as a daunting challenge but as an exciting opportunity.
There is work that needs to be done over January including consultation with families and other interested parishioners. If this is an area you would like to be involved in, please speak to me. We need as many voices at the table as possible.
Whether we are talking about the church nationally across the country, or locally here in Uxbridge, there are challenges before us that may overwhelm us. But let's be faithful in asking God to guide and direct us that we may serve God always and God's desire for His church.
I offer us this prayer for faithfully making decisions as we embrace opportunities God places before us ...
O God, we find ourselves almost daily
facing situations that can be challenges
but which are equally opportunities too.
We don't always know what the future may bring.
Please help us to be ready for whatever the future holds.
If we are to stand up, help us to stand bravely.
If we are to sit still, help us to sit quietly.
If we are to lie low, help us to do it patiently.
If we are to do nothing, let us do it obediently.
We pray for the ability to cooperate with others
according to the way Jesus taught us to live.
"Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
May these words that he taught us become more than words.
Please free our thinking and feelings
and the thinking and feelings of others,
from all forms of self-will, self-centeredness,
dishonesty, and deception.
Along with our brothers and sisters,
we need this freedom to make my choices
according to your desires for us. Amen.
Remember, if you have a question, I encourage you to send it to me in an email and I will do my best to answer it either in a weekly update or in a sermon.
As always, my inbox is open, and so is my office door if you'd like to chat. I'm usually in my office most mornings Monday through Thursday unless otherwise announced due to a meeting. Stop by or make an appointment!