dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ at St. James,
is my sincere pleasure to be writing to you as we prepare through
this Season of Advent and celebrate in joy the glories of Christmas.
As we gather each week, we gradually light our Advent Wreath
candles, symbolizing the growing light of Christ into our lives.
Through worship and prayer, voices raised in songs and shared over
coffee following worship, we come together, assisting each other in
our preparations for the coming of Christ into our lives and into
the world. There is so much goodness and joy that God is sharing
with us. It is our pleasure and joy to share God's gifts with each
other and the world around us.
a child, I always looked forward to the Christmas season because it
meant that gifts would be showered and fun would be known. As I grow
older I still look forward to those gifts, but - amazingly enough -
the gifts have taken on new form. Now, as I look around the Church
and the congregation I am overwhelmed at the true gifts that are
shared: our young people formally beginning their faith journeys
through Confirmation, the toddler who yells out "Yay" in
appreciation of a song well sung by our Choir, the new people in our
midst and the faithful who have been here for years. And just when I
think that things can't get any better, I am moved to tears by the
compassion of one who whispers in my ear that So-and-So could use a
visit, or when someone yells out a Life Event that makes us all
laugh and appreciate the family that is the Congregation of St.
this Christmas Season there is much that pulls us away from
remembering who we are as Christians. The world is noisy. Our lives
are hectic. There are cards to be written, gifts to wrap, people to
visit, food to prepare. All of these things are a part of our
Christmas traditions and must be honoured. However, what must come
before, during and after all of these "new" traditions, is
the reason why we are here. We must take time to appreciate Christ
in our lives. Whether we sit as a family and read the Nativity Story
from St. Luke, or we venture out on Christmas Eve to gather with
like-minded folk who want to sing the carols and hear the story, we
are called, each and every one of us, to put Christ first.
time this Christmas Season to simply take time. Offer to God your
prayers of Thanksgiving for the boy child born in a manger who grew
to be our King and Saviour. Open your hearts that you might make
room for the true gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love that are given
so freely to you by God through Jesus. And last, but certainly not
least, open your hands that you might freely pass on those same
gifts to everyone you meet: family, friends, co-workers and even the
stranger on the street. You will find that the more of these gifts
you give away, the more you find you will receive. For in giving, we
receive, and that is one of the great truths of the Christmas gift
of Jesus. It is through his giving of himself that we receive life.
It is our Christmas gift to others to pass on to them the truth, and
the gift of life that Jesus has freely given.
God bless and keep you in these Advent and Christmas Seasons and in
the year to come. We look forward to seeing all of you throughout
the holidays and in 2013 as well!
- St. James Anglican Church, Armdale