Letting go of Christmas ?

I really don’t like to let go of Christmas through these winter days. I leave some of my “seasonal” décor in place through to Lent. Lately I have been thinking about nativity sets. They come in all shapes and sizes!

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I have a small set of nativity figures that are resin Bearington Bears dressed as the Holy Family, the shepherds, the angels, the magi (or wise men) and all the animals. They remind me of the many Christmas pageants I have participated in as a child and youth, the pageants our children were a part of, as well as the many Christmas Eve pageants I celebrated with children and youth in previous pastoral charges as their minister of Faith Formation and Care.

I have another crèche at home. It is the Willow Tree figures. They look like carved wood and have no real facial features. Some people do not like them for that reason. But as I looked at the many possible crèches there are I became rather fascinated with the lack of facial expression and how so much is conveyed through the suggestion of the whole body. I could see the openness and encompassing character of the figures drawing me further into reflection. It was like you could see the face of Christ in each and each being the face of Christ to the other. Just as we ourselves are called to be.

A few years ago I was blessed to attend a quilt show at the Ivan Pastoral Charge as they celebrated their 150th anniversary. As part of the celebration they had organized a display of nativity sets as well as the over 300 quilts and provided a delicious lunch. I really wish I had taken pictures of the 85 different nativity sets that were on display. They ranged in type from the very traditional to the very whimsical. It reminded me of the many ways that we come together to celebrate and offer our gratitude for the grace and love gifted to us through the birth of Jesus. I couldn’t help but think of quiet carol and lesson services and joy filled children’s pageants, Christmas Eve communions, (that now include shortbread – thanks to the Littlewood and St. Andrews – Westminster folks!) and carolling parties. I was reminded of all the activities that fill our calendars and keep our lives busy.

I think that the crèches help me to remember that the season of preparation in Advent and the season of celebration at Christmas are about the abundant love and grace of God. And that after our Christmas season has ended the message remains and continues. For as the Gospel of John tells us “for God so loved the world, that God gave his only son Jesus” and that “the word became flesh and dwelt among us”. For this gift of grace, we respond in love and acceptance. The crèche serves as a visual reminder of that very real and physical, spiritual and emotional gift that calls us to follow the Way and to be the very people that we were created to be. So … my Willow Tree crèche remains in place on my dining room buffet.

May peace, hope, joy and love be with you!    Rev. Wendy

Breaking the poverty cycle course – Woodstock

link to Breaking the poverty cycle course Information and a registration form for the “breaking the poverty cycle” course put on by Operation Sharing in Woodstock, facilitators are Stephen Giuliano and Jodi di Bartolomeo, PhD . Course runs April 21- 26 from 9-9 in Woodstock On.

 The emphasis of this training is geared toward assisting individuals who presently work with the impoverished or are planning to work in this field. This course will also interest those, volunteering in the field or an individual just interested in exploring new concepts that might have an impact on breaking the cycle of poverty in Canada

 

 

 

United Church selling its Fossil Fuel investments

The United Church’s New Creed affirms our commitment to live with respect in creation. How we do that is not always clear. However, we have different approaches to how we live out these shared values. In our diversity, it is inevitable that our church will make choices that some of us find hard to accept.

In an article posted Jan 12, our moderator,  The Right Reverend Jordan Cantwell, pictured below , tells….

This summer the General Council voted to sell our investment holdings in the 200 largest fossil fuel companies. We made this decision out of our deep desire to “participate in God’s work of healing and mending creation.” Many in our church celebrate this decision, seeing it as one way that we can live out our commitment to climate justice. At the same time, for those faithful United Church members whose work is connected to the fossil fuel industry, this decision has been a source of pain.

Read the whole story on the United Church web site, click on link below . The Right Reverend Jordan Cantwell pictured

 Link to article about UCC selling fossil fuel co’s portrait_cantwell

Christmas Newsletter

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See whats been going on at Rowntree and what’s upcoming over the Advent (Christmas)  season.The primary theme of Advent is one of expectation- expectation of the coming of Jesus.

DEC-NEWSLETTER

Syrian Refugee Crisis; an update and our moderator’s views

Update Jan 15, 2016

Thanks to the generosity of responders to the United Church’s Emergency Appeal for Syrian Refugees, as of January 2016, the United Church has received nearly $790,000 to support partners responding to this crisis.

Deadline Extended – On January 7 Global Affairs Canada announced the deadline for dollar for dollar government matching of individual donations made by Canadians to Syria Emergency Relief has been extended to February 29, 2016. Cheques designated for Syria relief from United Church individuals and congregations will need to be dated February 29 or earlier and received at the General Council Office no later than March 7 to be eligible for the government match.

For More Information – For more information about this humanitarian crisis and for details about how to make a donation, please visit The United Church of Canada’s webpage on the Syria Refugee Appeal.

 

See the thoughts of our new Moderator, the Right Rev Jordan Cantwell on this issue and 3 steps you can take to help. Moderator’s thoughts and plans re Refugee crisisportrait_cantwell