Dear St. Stephen’s church family,
Greetings in Christ!
Tomorrow is the third week in Advent. The theme is JOY, the usually purple candle replaced by a pink candle on the Advent wreath. This colour signals that even in a season of waiting and making room, we anticipate the joy of God’s promises.
Singing Christmas Carols brings joy! Come and join us on Friday, December 16th, for hot apple cider and carols. The evening starts at 7:30. Bring a friend, bring 2! $5 donation at the door to help cover costs.
We will be holding our year end English Language conversation circle on Tuesday, December 13th at 7:30 pm on Zoom. We will sing Christmas Carols for half of the time, and chat for the other half. We have enjoyed another year of conversation, connection and community building. Thank you to Marg, Lisa and Joanne for volunteering at these sessions. We begin 2023 with alternating in person and online classes. This is one way that St. Stephen’s is a Caring Community, that is Outward Focussed. St. Stephen’s church family, please be aware of people who are new to us on Sunday mornings, and welcome them love and warmth! Christmas is a time of year when people may feel brave enough to come (back) to church and it is good for us to be prayerfully aware of this.
Youth are invited to come and rehearse our hybrid Christmas pageant tomorrow after the 10:30 service (noon). Youth will be narrating a Christmas presentation on Sunday, December 18th during the 10:30 service, with filmed excerpts from this past summer on the lawn. All children are invited to come and dress up on the 18th if they wish, and watch the Christmas pageant presentation. Julie is preparing an activity for children on the 18th as well and there will be treats following the service.
Youth are also invited and encouraged to come and help out at Samaritan Place on Saturday, December 17th from 2-4. Be in touch with me or Deidre for more info.
A reminder that Christmas Eve services are at 4 pm, 7:30 pm and 10:30 pm in Malayalam. All are invited to a Christmas Eve Potluck at 6 pm in the Prest Hall.
Christmas Day service is at 11 am. There will be just one service on the 25th, as well as on January 1st, also at 11 am.
This morning I was on a Diocesan Council Zoom, along with delegate Chris Wood. It was possibly Bishop Chris’ last council meeting with us, and he expressed his love and gratitude to the Diocese for the time that he has spent with us. There are ongoing conversations about the need for the province of Saskatchewan to join forces and share resources, known as the Tri-Diocesan meetings. These conversations will become more important and urgent over the next months, as our Bishop resigns and Bishop Michael Hawkins retires at the end of April. It was very helpful to have Archbishop Greg Kerr-Wilson joining us for the first hour, as he is the Metropolitan of Rupert’s Land. This means that Archbishop Greg oversees ten dioceses within the area that goes from the Arctic in the North, and stretches across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of Ontario from West to East. He is an excellent resource and shepherd and will help to guide us through these next steps, with God’s help.
Parish Cycle of Prayer
Monday: for our Diocese as we enter into this time of transition. For Bishop Chris and Tracy, for Archdeacon Alex as he takes on more responsibility. For our faithfulness in prayer and seeking of God’s guidance.
Tuesday: for all involved in Saskatoon Open Door Society, for volunteers and for newcomers. That our parish may be a place of welcome and warmth, seeking and serving Christ in all persons.
Wednesday: for Christmas Eve services, that Christ may shine on the hearts of all who walk in darkness. That we may receive God’s gift anew in our lives and in our church.
Thursday: for Matthew and Kerrie, with Jillian and Ben
Friday: for Benjamin D
A quote and a poem for this week:
While this is ‘Gaudete’ Sunday, there are many for whom Advent does not bring rejoicing. The great “Advent is not only a period of joy. It is also a time when those who are lonely feel lonelier than during other periods of the year… When Jesus was loneliest, he gave most. That realization should help to deepen my commitment to service and let my desire to give become independent of my actual experience of joy.” -Henri Nouwen
The Advent Moon Shines Bright and Clear
By Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
The Advent moon shines bright and clear;
These Advent nights are very long;
Our lamps have burned year after year,
And still their flame is strong.
‘Watchman, what of the night?’ we cry,
Heartsick with hope deferred:
‘No speaking signs are in the sky’,
Is still the watchman’s word.
One to another hear them speak,
The patient virgins wise:
Surely He is not far to seek,
All night we watch and rise.
The days are evil looking back,
The coming days are dim,
Yet count we not His promise slack,
But watch and wait for Him.
Weeping we hold him fast tonight,
We will not let Him go
Till daybreak smite our wearied sight,
And summer smite the snow:
Then figs shall bud, and dove with dove
Shall coo the livelong day;
Then He shall say ‘Arise, my love,
My fair one, come away!’
The Advent moon shines cold and clear.
We watch and wait.