Hello St. George’s Families,
Christmas is fast approaching. Please take care that you do not get so caught up in the frenzy of the season that you come to Christmas completely exhausted. Christmas should not be a marathon, but a journey in our faith.
Messy Church this month is December 14 and we will be doing our annual Christmas pageant. This year we have no babies at Messy Church to play the baby Jesus but there will be lots of kids to be shepherds and angels. You simply show up as usual for Messy Church. The costumes will be already. Both adults and kids are invited to join in if they want. You pick who you want to be in the pageant and put on the appropriate costume (sometimes kids will try on 2 or 3 costumes before they decide). The script has a couple of simple speaking parts, but mostly it is the narrator who reads the script and people participate. Afterwards we will have short celebration and supper. Everyone enjoyed the chicken fingers and fries so much last time that they will be back by popular demand. There will be cupcakes in celebration of Jesus’ birthday. Doors open at 5:00 and we will be done by 7:00.
December 15 (Thursday) will be our 9 Lessons and Carols Service at 7:00. Our Christmas Eve services are 5:00, 7:00 and 9:00. The family service is the 5:00 service, but families are welcome at all services. Attending the service is a wonderful way to celebrate Christ’s birth. December 25, Christmas Day is a Sunday this year and there will be one service at 10:00am.
Please remember that Christmas is now and always has been a celebration of the birth of Christ. Christmas without Christ at the centre is simply a shopping frenzy that ends with overindulging in a feast that celebrates consumerism. It is difficult to keep Christ in Christmas when we are encouraged to buy, buy, buy to ensure the happiness of those we love, when we are urged to work to make the day perfect, when the songs we hear on the radio and in the malls focus on Santa Claus and maudlin sentiment. It is challenging to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. As a family, spend time each day during Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, in God’s presence. This can be done in many ways, such as saying grace before the evening meal when the family is gathered around the table, or lighting a candle on the Advent wreath, reading the Christmas story together, as well as attending the Christmas Eve service.
I wish you a joyful and blessed Christmas and I look forward to seeing you during the Christmas season.
Here’s Nancy’s reflection on the Christmas Story to help prepare families for Messy church this month:
THE CHRISTMAS STORY
There are four books (called Gospels) in the Bible that tell the story of Jesus. They are Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Mark and John begin their story with the adult Jesus. Our Christmas stories come from Matthew and Luke who emphasize different parts of the story. In Luke is found the story of Mary and Joseph, their journey to Bethlehem, Jesus’ birth in the stable and the angels visit to the shepherds. In Matthew we hear the story of the visit of the Magi. We have heard the Christmas story, but I would like to explore some of the details and why these details are important in the overarching story of God as Jesus and his life among us.
Mary and Joseph were engaged, not married. At that time a man and woman would be promised to each other. They would live apart for a year and then would be married. During that time a man would build a house for them and the woman would gather the things to make a home. In our terms, it was more than an engagement as we understand it, but less than a marriage.
For Mary to be engaged and pregnant could be a death sentence. If Joseph had not accepted Mary and therefore Jesus as his child, the punishment for Mary was stoning. Mary was an example of courage and trust in God for all of us. For Joseph to accept her was a compassionate act, especially since he lost social standing, even ostracism, by doing so. Jesus was born into a loving home, and in that home Christ could grow in the child Jesus.
Shepherds were lowest of the low. They were scorned by the rest of society and their life was hard, dangerous and lonely. For the angels to have chosen the shepherds to hear the good news of the birth of the Messiah first, was an indication that God was not going to be working alongside the rich and the powerful, but among the marginalized people.
Convention holds that there were three Magi and that they were men. Matthew writes of three gifts, but does not specify the number of Magi. Magi were learned scholars who studied the universe and looked for signs of the gods’ activity in the world. They were not members of God’s chosen people, but honoured the gods of all cultures and nations. Magi, especially those from the lands east of Israel, could be men or women. Calling the Magi kings is a mistranslation. By including the story of the Magi in the story of Jesus’ birth, was Matthew’s way of emphasizing that Jesus was born, not only for the people of Israel, but for all people.
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7