"Can Covid 19 Steal Christmas??"

Mark's Midweek Musings ... December 10, 2020

Beth and I were recalling that this Sunday would have been our open house for the parish at the rectory. We so enjoy welcoming you into our home especially as part of our Christmas celebrations. We look forward to doing so again hopefully in 2021!!

We're certainly in the midst of the preparations for the upcoming celebrations of Christmas here at St. Paul's. Despite Covid 19, although different from years past and hopefully from years to come, it promises to be a joy filled celebration that stirs our hearts and souls with the gift of the Christ Child. Check out the videos that will be released over the next couple of weeks for the Online video "Old Tyme Carol Sing", the Online video "Lessons and Carols Service" in partnership with Trinity United, the online "Family Christmas" video and the Online "Longest Night" worship video.

And of course ... we are preparing for Christmas Eve with in person Communion services at 4 and 7 that will be live streamed and available following through a video posted on our YouTube channel. 

I pray that you will find ways that are meaningful for you to enter this holy season and experience a sacred encounter of faith with God.

At this time, with Durham region in the Red Zone
St. Paul's will continue to offer
in person worship as we have on Sundays.

As well, we will continue offering
the live streaming and videos
for those who don't feel safe coming to church.

There are relatively few cases
here in Uxbridge and north Durham region.

If the situation changes in the future
we will make the necessary decisions
to comply with any health protocols and restrictions.

We will keep you informed
of any directions from the Diocese or public health.
This Sunday we would have normally gathered
at the church for our annual "Old Tyme Carol Sing"

Stuart, Tiina and I have
created a video which will be posted
on our YouTube channel
with many of your favorite carols that we love to sing.

The video will go live on Sunday.

Watch for an email with the link.

Maybe think of joining in watching and singing
at 2 pm, the usual time we would have gathered.

That way, although separated
we can be singing together.
We are pleased that some are using
etransfers to make their donations to St. Paul's.

We are still working out a few details.

At present you need to include 
a security question ...

Please use ... "What is the town where the church is?
The Sunday in our parish cycle of prayer
we remembered and gave thanks for ...

Jane, Jayson and Samuel, Kim and MG, Mark and Beth,
Pauline and Martin and Sally and Norm and their families.
We have some 2021 Church Calendars
for those interested.

Please speak to Evelyn.

The cost is $6.
This week ...
  • Tues Connections email
  • Communion at St. Paul's ... Wed 10 am
  • Please register in advance if you are planning on attending worship on Sunday (see note below)
  • Zoom "Coffee & Conversation" ... Wed 11:15 am
  • Mark's Midweek Musings ... Thurs
  • Conference Call Bible Study ... Thurs 11 am
  • On line worship links will be emailed on Saturday
  • Communion at St. Paul's ... Sun 10 am ... or viewed live or using the video posted later in the morning on our YouTube channel ... Advent 3 ... "Joy in Pandemic Times"
I have been asked to share
some scripture passages
that people can read over the week
and reflect in their own personal times
of prayer and bible reading.

These are the appointed lectionary readings
from the psalm and the gospel
for celebrations of the Eucharist
  • Tuesday ... Ps 96; Mt 18:12-14 
  • Wednesday ...Ps 103:1-10; Mt 11:28-30
  • Thursday ...Ps 145:1-4, 8-13; Mt 11:7-15
  • Friday ...  Ps 1; Mt 11:16-19 
  • Saturday ...  Ps 80:1-3, 14-18; Mt 17:9-13
  • Sunday ...   Advent 3 ... Ps 126; Jn 1:6-8, 19-28
  • Monday ...  Ps 25:3-8; Mt 21:23-27
Thurs Dec 10 ... Mark's Midweek Musings
Thurs Dec 10... 11 am; Conference Call Bible Study
Thurs Dec 10 ... Online Hymn Sing
Sun Dec 13... Advent 3 ... "Joy in Pandemic Times" ...10 am; Communion at St. Paul's ... safe and physically distanced ... live streamed and available later via video on our YouTube channel
Sunday Dec 13 ... 2:30 pm; Old Tyme Carol Sing ... online video on our You Tube channel ... join in singing your favorite Christmas Carols ... watch for the email with the link
Tues Dec 15 ... Tuesday Connections
Tues Dec 15 ... 7:30 pm; Zoom Compline
Wed Dec 16 ... please register if you are planning to attend the in person worship on Sunday (see note below)
Wed Dec 16 ..."Prophetic Voices for our Time" ... Advent Video reflections on hearing the prophetic words of scripture in light of our experience and need today
Thurs Dec 17... Mark's Midweek Musings
Thurs Dec 17... 11 am; Conference Call Bible Study
Thurs Dec 17 ... Online Hymn Sing
Sat Dec 19 ... Service of Lessons & Carols ... a video in partnership with Trinity United including scripture readings, choral music, Christmas Carols and prayers celebrating the joy of the Christmas season ... available on our YouTube Channel ... a link will be emailed to you
Sun Dec 20  ... "Advent 4" ... "Peace in Pandemic Times" ... 10 am; Communion at St. Paul's ... safe and physically distanced ... live streamed and available later via video on our YouTube channel
Sun Dec 20 ... "Christmas for our families" ... a video with a prayer of blessing the creche and a story; available on line on our Youtube channel ... a link will be emailed to you
Mon Dec 21 ... "Longest Night" ... a video with music, prayers, readings and reflections acknowledging that even in the darkness of our world and this time we anticipate the light of a new day
Tues Dec 22 ... Tuesday Connections
Wed Dec 23 ... please register if you are planning to attend the in person worship on Sunday (see note below)
Wed Dec 23 ... 11:15 am; Zoom Coffee & Chat
Thurs Dec 24... Mark's Midweek Musings
Thurs Dec 24 ... Online Hymn Sing 
Thurs Dec 24 ... "Christmas Eve" ...  4 & 7 pm ... in person celebrations of Jesus' birth with communion ... safe and physically distanced ... it will be determined which service will be live streamed
Sun Dec 27 ... "Christmas 1" ... "The Celebration Continues!" ...10 am; Communion at St. Paul's ... safe and physically distanced ... live streamed and available later via video on our YouTube channel 
We are doing some advance planning
for our Christmas Eve worship services
on December 24 at 4 & 7 p.m.

Please register if you are planning to attend
to assist us with ensuring there is space for everyone
following the diocesan protocols for physical distancing.

If we have more planning to attend than we can accomodate
we will make provision for extra seating in the parish hall
using a television and the live stream.

Here is the link to register ...

To assist us in planning for our Sunday worship services
we are asking you to please register
if you are intending to attend.

This will help us know in advance
how many people to expect
and if we need to open the lower hall
to accommodate all who wish to attend.

We will be allowing some space for those
who haven't registered.

There are two ways to register ...
1. Using the internet, go to and click on the Sunday you plan to attend, following the directions to type in your name and email address.

2. Phone the church office at 
905-852-7016 and leave a message by Wednesday.

Thank you for your assistance in registering
for Sunday morning worship at St. Paul's.

What to expect as we gather for worship ...
Things are different from our usual pattern of worship!!
  • please ensure you are healthy with no symptoms of Covid 19 and that you haven't been in contact with anyone who has symptoms or has tested positive for Covid 19 or is in quarantine
  • please self-screen by asking yourself the following questions … do you have a new cough, runny nose, or any new respiratory issues; do you have a fever; do you have any nausea, gastro issues, diarrhea; have you traveled outside Canada in the last 14 days; have you had contact with anyone who has been told to self-isolate in the last 14 days; have you been told to self-isolate in the last 14 days … If you answer yes to any of these questions, please stay home and consider getting tested.
  • everyone attending worship is expected to wear a mask
  • please arrive early for the service to allow an easy flow into the church 
  • there will be markers on the sidewalk leading to the church to ensure appropriate physical distancing as people arrive
  • please use the main front doors to access the church … those who use the right front door will be sitting on the right side of the church and those who use the left front door will sit on the left side of the church … the entrance on the south side of the church will be reserved for those requiring the elevator
  • a record will be kept of those who attend worship at the church for tracking purposes in case we should need to make contact 
  • there will be hand sanitizer available at each entrance 
  • please take your coats or umbrellas with you to your seat ... no coats are to be hung at the back of the church
  • you will be ushered to where you will sit in the church … beginning with pews at the front, working to the back … please sit where you are assigned, appropriately and safely distanced from those around you
  • children will stay in church with their families and are encouraged to bring soft toys or books for during the service
  • there will be no hymn or prayer books in the pew ... everything for the liturgy will be projected at the front
  • there will be a few printed service leaflets for those who find it difficult to see the projection ... please take these home with you if you use them
  • there will be no congregational singing ... music will be instrumental and soloists
  • you will be encouraged to remain seated throughout the worship service
  • the priest, readers, intercessor, musicians, and soloists will be wearing masks 
  • there will be no congregational responses to the prayers
  • offering plates will not be passed from person-to-person ... parishioners may deposit their offering into plates which will be prominently placed near the entrance/exit … offerings will be counted and deposited every two weeks
  • communion will be administered as you leave the building ... please stop leaving appropriate physical spacing between yourself and those who are distributing communion ... come forward with your mask on to receive the bread ... move away before you remove your mask and consume your communion as you exit the building 
  • we discourage using cash in your envelopes preferring a check and encourage other options such as PAR, Canada Helps or E-transfers  
  • instructions will be given about leaving the church at the end of the worship service exiting from the back to the front using the same door you entered
  • the washroom on the main level will be available for use with instructions for sanitizing after each use
  • the church will be fully cleaned and sanitized after each service

What to expect when I come to church
for Wednesday Communion …
  • All of the above instructions are to be followed except we will use only the front doors on the right with instructions to sit on the right side of the church safely and appropriately distanced
  • Communion will be administered at the end of the liturgy as you leave the building

Everyone needs to feel safe and comfortable.

As we gather, we need to mitigate stress.
There will be people available to give direction.

We pray that this will be
an inspiring opportunity to gather in worship together.

We will do what we can
to try and meet everyone's spiritual needs
as we remain faithful and engaged
in our relationship with God
and with each other as the body of Christ.

Whether you join us in person or on-line,
we look forward to worshiping with you!

An option to make your St. Paul's donations
which is easy and convenient

we have online banking available for e-transfers.

If this is helpful as you support the ministries of St. Paul's
the email address you need is
If you or someone you know
is in need of pastoral support
during this time

please leave a message
at the church office or email me.

Trust me when I say
it is no bother!!

This is what I'm here to do!!

"The Grinch" is an entertaining Christmas movie that is often enjoyed by adults as much as by children. Dr. Seuss tells a story that reaches to the heart of what Christmas is about, especially when Grinch tries to silence the bells and steal all the presents. In Whoville the Whos are full of excitement about celebrating Christmas. The only one who is not into the spirit is the cantankerous green furred Grinch. He does everything to ruin Christmas and take away the spirit that galvanized this town in their joy as they went about their various traditions. Of course, he didn't succeed. The Whos still gathered and sang with delight "Welcome Christmas". Even the Grinch couldn't steal the spirit of Christmas and ruin their celebrations.

Some might think that Covid 19 has the potential to steal Christmas for us. And in some ways it might feel like that could be a reality. We can't sing our favorite carols; for some they don't feel safe coming out to church; families can't gather for the turkey dinner; parties are on hold for this year. All in all, it may feel like the spirit of Christmas is lost; it may feel like Covid 19 has stolen Christmas 2020.

And yet, the truth is that December 25 will come as it always does; Christmas will happen. The question is, "how will we celebrate it" this year; how will we maintain that sense of joy; how can we embrace what we can do rather than focus on what we can't do? From a faith perspective, how can we still go to Bethlehem and encounter they mystery and miracle of God with us, Emmanuel in the baby lying in a bed of straw.

How can we faithfully engage in these days leading up to Christmas so that we feel able and ready to celebrate however we can.
  • We need to be creative and flexible in our celebrations this year, and be realistic about our expectations of ourselves and others around us.
  • We need to take care of ourselves which in turn will enable us to take care of others, even if needs to be from a distance.
  • A spiritual rhythm we can embrace is the practice of gratitude; be aware of the things we have to be thankful for, even the smallest and seemingly insignificant things that make us smile.  
  • Be attentive to moments when we experience God in our midst, especially in ways that aren't necessarily grand, but simple.
  • Buy the cashier a chocolate bar simply to be nice; or order pizza to be sent to the hospital emergency department to say thank you for all they do.
  • We're playing our Christmas carols in the house like we always do. I find myself humming or singing along as usual, but am more focused and engaged with the words and the meaning the express.
  • Take the time to re-read the Christmas story from Luke, including the annunciation when the angel appears to Mary; read the account in Matthew of the angel appearing to Joseph; read the prophets, especially Isaiah; and remember what this season is all about, Jesus Christ who is at the very center of why we celebrate.
  • Plan to enter into the various video opportunities from St. Paul's that remind us we are a community of faith together and not isolated on our own.
  • Send a Christmas card to someone you haven't been in touch with for a long time. Maybe now is the time to re-connect.
  • Donate to an organization providing a Christmas meal to those who can't afford on one their own; give a toy to the local drive.
  • Send a "secret Santa" gift to someone you know who needs cheering up.
  • Sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus on December 25.
The truth is, Covid 19 can steal Christmas and our spirit along with it. However, we can and need to ask ourselves if that's what we'd really like this year. Or, perhaps we need Christmas and the Spirit of Christmas all the more in the midst of Covid 19. If so, then we need to take responsibility for doing what we can to make this the best Christmas it can be. 

In all of that, what's important to remember is that this is but one Christmas. And generations before us have had Christmases compromised by a pandemic, world wars, a depression and a recession. And yet Christmas still happens and their resilience is a witness to us of how we can embrace these days holding on to the hope that there will be "normal" celebrations of Christmas to come.

Most importantly, remember and embrace the faith of this season ... Christ will be born; God will again be Incarnate among us; and Christmas will will mean as much if not more than it usually does.

Can Covid 19 steal Christmas ... sure. But I hope it won't for any of us.
An Advent Prayer ...

Almighty God,
we hear it over and over: you are coming to us.

We feel our hearts stir in anticipation,
and we sense that you are inviting us
to enter more deeply
into the mystery of your birth.

Help us to feel renewed patience,
and to lift our face in joy.

We have been like lost lambs,
but we hear your voice calling us
and we feel how deeply you want us to return.
Somehow we know that you rejoice in our desire to find you.

Help us not to be afraid to say out loud, to believe:
Here is God, coming into our life. Amen.
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59 Toronto Street South, Uxbridge Ontario L9P1H1 Canada

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St. Paul's Anglican Church, Uxbridge · 59 Toronto Street · Uxbridge, On L9P1H1 · Canada

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