Note from the Minister's Desk:
I don't know how many of you actually sit down and take notice of the direction that the Bible and the lectionary readings take us during Advent. Most of the Gospel writings take place after Jesus had declared to the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem.
We often only think of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem as a short walk taking place over a day or two before Passover, or what we as Christians call Palm Sunday. But some biblical historians believe that Jesus' journey actually took several months, beginning in the fall of the year (Feast of Tabernacles or Booths) and lasting until the spring (Passover).
This was an arduous journey, not only because Jesus realized his final challenge with the authorities, but also because Jesus and the disciples had to travel through pagan lands teaching the way of God, while dealing with bandits and rogues along the way.
You must be thinking that this is the weirdest Christmas message that you have ever received, but there is a point to all of this.
The scriptures and the lectionary take us on a journey of hardship and challenge, a journey that seems so bleak and dark, to a place where there is hope, peace (tranquillity), love, and joy. We enter into the light of Christ, which embodies the healing love of God.
Many individuals in our community of faith, and those outside of it, are experiencing difficult times in their lives; illness, death, financial difficulties, a lack of purpose in life – there are a whole host of reasons. This year the Church too is facing a challenging time, like so many other churches. You are in the midst of finding a new minister. The United Church is embarking on the most significant restructuring since its inception, which will also have an impact on you.
We are in the midst of transition, a time of change. None of us like change, we like things to remain as they are. We are comfortable, why must things change? We wonder; where are we going from here? What are we going to do?
I cannot answer the question as to where you as a church community, or I personally will finally end up. Trusting is hard; but we must trust that God's Spirit will lead us to the Promised Land. Truly trusting in God is difficult, because it often leads to the unknown, those places where we feel vulnerable. This is true in our personal lives and in the church community as well.
Every place that I have ended up serving as a minister, I never expected to go to; be it Orillia were I did my internship, up north for my settlement, Carleton Place, a short stent at Boyd's, or down here to Lakeridge Presbytery – and eventually to your community of faith at Dunbarton-Fairport. However, each move has been a blessing to me, and allowed me to grow as an individual, and enhanced my ministry.
Have these changes been difficult, yes. It entails a change in employment – even if one is still doing the same basic job, a change homes, saying goodbye to old friends, and accommodating one's self to a new situation. Change is difficult even for a minister; but at the same time rewarding, when we put our trust in God.
While we may not know what God has instore for us, I do know that as we follow Christ, we will be embraced in God's love. Love will reign supreme!
There may be difficult spots on our journey, but with the guidance and support of the Spirit, all of us will come to a place where God's shalom embraces all.
For me, that is what it means to be a Christian. It is a message of hope. God's Spirit will guide us through the difficult times in our lives, ever leading us to the Light of Christ.
My prayer for you this Advent and Christmas season is that you will discern new ways of making the path straight in your own lives, enabling the ministry that you each do.
Yes, in this season of celebration, I am thankful that I have been part of this community of faith.
May the love and hope that I feel in my heart, be extended to each and every one of your homes this Christmas Season.
Please come out and join us at one of our Christmas Eve services!!!
Family Service 7:00 pm
Traditional Service 11:00 pm Communion