Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Church Year: The Second Season - Christmas

 CHURCH 101      January 19, 2022  Church Year   

The Second Season- Christmas

When the Christmas Eve candle is lit on Christmas Eve, we


mark the beginning of the Christmas season. It is not just December 25 but a season that stretches until January 5. It is in this season that we celebrate the birth of Jesus through feasting, celebrations with family and giving thanks to God for His Gift to us in the Infant Jesus.  It is appropriate to continue to sing Christmas carols and keep the visual reminders of Christ’s birth in place.

It is during this time that schools are closed for winter break, businesses slow down and many people travel to see family or just stay home to enjoy the different activities within the home.

From Isaiah’s prophecy of the “child who would be born for us” 9:2-7 to the story of the shepherds visiting the stable where the infant Jesus was born, we hear the message of God’s love. The Promised One, the messiah is born. This baby would be the one who would change the course of human history and save all people from sin.

We listen to the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2:8-20

The colours often associated with Christmas are green- and red.. Green trees symbolizing life and eternal life given to us through Jesus Christ. Red- symbolizing the blood Jesus shed for us at his death.

Other colours like blue and white often appear reflecting the snow and clear skies but this is often used in the season after Epiphany a little later on.

Christmas—is a season and to know that Jesus is born gives us hope, peace, joy and love. All we need to do is share in faith and rejoice- Christ is with us. Thanks be God.

PRAYER: Thank you God for the season of Christmas and the joy we experience  with Jesus’ birth. Enable us to hold on to the symbols of love, peace, joy and hope all wrapped up in the baby born in a stable. Enable us O God to keep Christmas in our hearts, all year long. Show us your way O God.  Teach us to understand the seasons of the church so that we may learn and grow in faith. Amen.

 

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

The Season After Epiphany; Lent; Advent—What Season is it now?

 

CHURCH 101      January 12, 2022  Church Year   

The Season After Epiphany; Lent; Advent—What Season is it now?

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-4 There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 a time to be born and a time to die,
 a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 a time to kill and a time to heal,
 a time to tear down and a time to build,
 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
 a time to mourn and a time to dance,

 The Church has its seasons beyond the spring, summer autumn and winter. Most of these Seasons of the Church year follow this cycle of rest, preparation, remembrance or celebration.

The First Season of the Church year starts in late November or early December depending upon the year. The Season of Advent comprises the four weeks before Christmas which is counted on the 4 Sunday.. It is a time of preparing for Christ’s birth and a time to prepare for Jesus’ coming into our lives again.

Some churches mark these four Sundays by lighting one more candle per week to signify that we are getting closer to celebrating Jesus’ birth. The candles are usually 3 blue or purple and 1 pink. Each candle represents hope, peace joy and love.  The gifts that we each receive at the birth of Jesus.

Advent is a time of waiting and hearing again what took place before Jesus was born. The prophesies from the Old Testament and the words of the New Testament teach us to wait and be patient. For when we wait, Christ will come to us and call us to him.

We have recently experienced Advent with the four weeks before Christmas. Did you wait or dread Christmas celebrations? Was Christmas Day worth the wait?

Children often like to count the sleeps before Christmas as an activity of preparation. Others have advent calendars which begin on December 1 and may have a small treat for each day. However, you prepare for Christmas the anticipation of celebrating Jesus’ birth is a time of learning and preparing. Advent is a time of waiting! Waiting for Jesus to be born!

 PRAYER: Thank you God for the season of Advent when we wait for the blessing of your Son’s birth into the human world. Help us to wait and when we wait, may we always call on you to see us and cause us to rest again in you. Show us your way O God.  Teach us so that we may learn about your church and how we may take part in its life and work. Amen.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Church 101

 

CHURCH 101      January 5, 2022

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And, I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 

Matthew 16:18-19

What is a church?

A play song taught to children years ago asks them to


fold their hands together with their index fingers pointed up. “This is the church and this is steeple; open the doors and where are the people?” The child was then to interlock their fingers backwards. The verse then was “This is the church and this is the steeple, open the doors and THERE’S all the people.”  So what is a church?

A church is a gathering of people whose focus is on God. If a Christian church, the emphasis is not only on God as Creator, but also on Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. When the people gather together it is a time of worshiping God because He made us and all that there is. Through music, hearing passages from the Bible being read, and a ‘talk’ or sermon by a biblical speaker, what is shared is a time of learning, growing and experiencing God’s presence.

The church is also be known as the building where people gather for the purpose of worship and Christian education as well as sharing in outreach to others.  The Christian church started when Jesus told Simon Peter that he would establish the church. At that time, churches were house churches. They were gatherings of people who met in houses to pray, eat and hear the stories of Jesus. These stories would include his teachings, healings and the story of his death and resurrection. These house churches grew and eventually special buildings were constructed or the purpose of worship and praise to God.

Churches have evolved since that time. Some are huge almost like stadiums; others are small hosting small groups. But, each has as its focus, Jesus Christ and His gift and promise of eternal life. A Christian church should teach about Jesus’ way of love and life. The church should also inform its members on why and how we may follow Christ in what we say and do living in the 21st century.

So what does “church” mean to you? Is it a place filled with good thoughts; memories of the deaths of loved ones, good food and friendships, or is a church something you need to learn about?

As we continue in these Blogs in 2022—we will explore many concepts, questions and understandings of what church is and can mean for you!

PRAYER: God of grace, we thank you that you established Christ’s church through Peter. Help us to understand what this is as the church in the 21st century continues to change and evolve. Bless us we pray as we strive to worship you in faith and with hope. Amen.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - The Rest of the Story.

 

Rev Cathy Reflects

Wednesday December 8, 2021  

                Christmas is just 3 weeks away and the Hallmark

Romance movies are on every two hours. These movies show people falling in love during the Christmas season based upon specific situations and circumstances. The scenery is usually somewhere in Canada in the winter and of course Christmas carols play throughout reminding us that there is a reason for Christmas and it is Jesus’ birth!

                A minister in Wayland, Massachusetts write a hymn 1849 as the Industrial Revolution had arrived in the New England states. Edmund Hamilton Sears saw the challenges and changes around him, as many people had left their home farms and began to move west to find better soil.  Others left their land and entered the mills and factories only to endure long days of labour. There was much social upheaval because of the Industrial Revolution. There was also a sense of loss and wonder. Leaving the agrarian lifestyle brought many challenges but when the words were sung from the heart, a stirring of hope was made possible. ‘It came upon the midnight clear/ that glorious song of old”. It was just 12 years later when the American Civil War began and in those years, though the words were filled with despair, there was also message of hope!

‘beneath life’s crushing load... who toil  along the way,

-- hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.”       

 All that is being asked is simply to listen:  “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. “(Luke 2:10-11)

Listen to the words of the angels- rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing!

What is the song of the angels? What song are longing to hear them sing?

The song of the angels rings out loudly as we pray, sing and celebrate Jesus’ birth. Are we ready to sing like the angels? Jesus is born. Thanks be to God!

PRAYER God of grace we praise you that the song of the angels is still heard in the hearts of many people. Be with us O God as we strive to know this song as we seek Christ within us. Bless us we pray in the name of Jesus, the Promised One! Amen.