Dear family in Christ,

The week leading up to Christmas always leaves me with a long list of ‘to gets’, and things ‘to do’, and after our not being able to celebrate Christmas for the last two years liturgically, there’s a different anticipation as we make our way through the week with a renewed expectation that ‘we will’ be celebrating Christmas as a parish for the first time since 2019!

The orders of service are in process, the decorations are in place and final preparations are being made to open our hearts once more to the message of the birth of Jesus.

Yesterday in church, we heard the familiar story and listened to the spoken and sung words we know so well, and are familiar sign posts in the recurring seasonal journey we embark on in the Christian year. This year, for me, the familiar words were like refreshing rain drops, replenishing my soul and refreshing my mind to the central reason we gather, anticipate and pledge to love again as we await to receive this vulnerable child into our lives.

It’s nice to gather with the ones you love around the table, and the fun of giving and and receiving, and the laughter that comes with snuggling in for a moment. I’ve never cared for the panic and frenzied shopping that’s overshadowed the importance of the season particularly as an excuse not to attend divine service. To me it makes the intent shallow and the main event secondary, and to an extent a failure of the church to generate the right and good teaching this season requires to prepare our hearts and minds for the journey ahead. For me, to love Jesus, is to put him first.

The significance of this season, the incarnation, the word becoming flesh, God becoming one of us, the beginning of our redemption, renews our hope and our mission as individuals and as members of faith communities, the church, reminds us of both, our mission and responsibility to be lights in an often darkened world, to be the ones who invite and host, at no cost, so that redemption can spread throughout the world. One person at a time is what is necessary as Jesus demonstrated, for the greater and lasting difference to be made.

The death of our long time friend and parish member, Lloyd Lewis, reminded us of the sheer energy and generosity of one person who mobilized many and generously gave on so many levels to the Jesus and the parish he loved. It was with gratitude that we celebrated his life in a Eucharistic meal and celebratory afternoon tea here last week to give thanks for his exemplary life, kindness, action and love to so many as a disciple of Christ in this place. How blest we are to have had him in our family, and at the very least we could give back an afternoon tea in his honour. It was a beautiful day, and Jan and family felt secure and loved in the midst of their grief as they in part said their goodbyes. For many of us, in the busyness of these last weeks for many reasons, our time to grieve has been delayed, and there are still moments for me, when I expect him to walk through the door with his loving enthusiasm and ability to tell a good story or to express concern of one of our community of faith. He will be missed, for as much as his personality as his service to God’s church.

Thank you to all those who have stepped up over these last weeks, with four major dinners (around 240 plates), Carol Services, catering, music, reading, decorating and visiting. Bob Owen carved 20 roast Turkeys over 2 weeks, one session, 10 turkeys, lasting over 4 hours, and the kindness of Don Anderson, Liz Reid’s husband, who came and cooked turkeys and made gravy for all those people, very generous and a sign of Lloyd’s legacy to this parish.

Thank you to all of you in our partnership in the gospel and our working, praying and worshipping together and for you continued stewardship of giving and service for the continuance of the parish.

May you all have a blessed Christmas and May 2023 be a year of renewed energy and vision for the parish we all love.

With love and Blessings
Fr. Jeff and team.