second Sunday in Advent, our gospel lesson was the beginning
of the first chapter of Mark. What is immediately apparent
to any reader is that there is no Christmas in this gospel.
Jesus makes his first appearance as a fully grown man and
we are immediately drawn into his ministry. Two other gospels,
Matthew and Luke, do contain the stories that we retell
at Christmas-time: the angel Gabriel coming to Mary, an
angel appearing to Joseph in a dream, the journey of the
young couple to Bethlehem for the census, the child being
born in a manger because there was no room in the inn, the
angels appearing to the shepherds, the wise men following
a star, arriving at Herods court, and finally making
their way to Bethlehem to present their gifts of gold, frankincense,
and myrrh. These are what we now call the Christmas stories,
but when you think about it, there is no Christmas in their
gospels either. For Christmas is a festival and a season
in the churchs life that only began to be celebrated
much later, making use of the infancy stories that these
writers tell.The need for some festival of the birth no
doubt arose from the
growing popularity of the birth narratives. Christians
recognized the importance of Matthews and Lukes
stories on several fronts:
in the late third century, the emperor Aurelian proclaimed
that date as the Festival of the Invincible Sun, marking
the beginning of the lengthening of days. Christians in
Rome, witnessing the pagan festivities, eventually began
to rename this date the celebration of the birth of the
Sun of Righteousness, and began, in effect,
to colonize the pagan festival. By the year 336, Christmas
was clearly in existence
and began its spread from Rome throughout the Christian
By tradition, the Christian season is regarded as consisting
of twelve days, and ends with Epiphany. It remains the most
widely observed of all Christian feasts, perhaps because
this festival combines the human need for a party to enliven
the gloom of winter, the natural response to childbirth,
and the message of Emmanuel God
Though Christmas was not a part of biblical times, it was
inevitable that a Feast of Christmas would one day come
to be, for the angels message Behold,
I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to
all the people; for to you is born this day in the city
of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord,
is a message that cannot be met with austerity but must
welcomed with celebration.
Merry Christmas from
because the accounts bear witness to the Incarnation, the
that God has, in Jesus, taken flesh, become human; politically,
because the accounts reveal a God who partakes of the common
and lowly, and in so doing exalts the common and lowly;
devotionally, because these wonderful pictures
of the birth provide many different gateways into participation
in the life of the Son of God. By the third century, church
fathers such as Hippolytus and Tertullian were speculating
as to a date for the nativity. They identified the date
of the crucifixion as March 25 and adopted the same datefor
Jesus conception, thus making December 25 the date
of his birth.
A Message from Joan
Rush, rush, rush seems to be the expected order these days
of Advent, leading up to Christmas. For many people, there
is little sense of surprise. Stores begin advertising Christmas
merchandise in October (or earlier) and people start dropping
hints of what theyd like for gifts. Calendars are
marked well in advance with activities for the busy days
of the holiday season. Christmas carols are blaring forth
everywhere we turn. The Christmas story is so familiar to
us that we think weve heard
it all before. We have lost sight of the meaning of Advent
when we once again hear the word declaring Gods comfort
to the people. Advent marks the start of a new year. It provides
us with a time to prepare ourselves as we journey to the birth
of Christ and what that still means for our world and us.
Unfortunately, in our busy round of activities, we often cut
ourselves off from the potential for spiritual renewal that
this Season offers.
We would do well to look to the Celtic approach to God that
opens up a world in which nothing is too common to be exalted
and nothing is so exalted that it cannot be made common. These
words invite us into a different approach to Advent and Christmas
one that keeps these seasons open to spiritual renewal
and strengthening of our relationships with God and with one
This is a time of hope a time of hope for our world,
our families and for ourselves. This is a time when we seek
once again those signs of assurance of God with us
in the ordinary and not
so ordinary events of our lives. In Advent we need to recognize
Gods claim on our lives.
In these days of preparation and celebration, we are challenged
to hear the voices of the prophets who proclaimed that a new
age would dawn. In the midst of glitter we are encouraged
to keep in sight the power of Gods presence and the
strength of Gods consolation. In the midst of the busyness
of this time we acknowledge the joy and laughter that only
Gods peace brings.
We celebrate the humble birth of the exalted Prince of Peace,
Gods Word made flesh that dwelt among us. May the ordinary
events of our lives in this extraordinary time of year be
blessed so that we know Gods presence with us and with
our world. May we each find room in our hearts for the coming
of the Christ Child and the gifts of love, hope, peace and
joy that are offered in this time of celebration and throughout
the coming year.
Blessings and Peace to you all
Marion Abra Circle
is a group for the younger women of Westminster Church.
The goal is to provide fellowship and service opportunities
for mothers with young children and teens, working women
fact, every woman looking to make friends and feel a little
more connected to the Westminster community. Some of our
activities include a book club, a movie night, a bake exchange,
a craft night, helping out at the Garage Sale, and putting
together a hamper for a family in need at Christmas.
The Marion Abra Circle meets on the last Tuesday of every
month (excluding December) at 7:00 pm, usually at the church.
If you are interested in attending one of our meetings,
please come! For more information, contact Joan Jarvis at
the church 784-1330, Katherine Abra at 453-2498 or
firstname.lastname@example.org, or Marilyn Huband at 284-5514.
Just ask to be put on the e-mail list/phone tree, and we
will keep you up to date about what the group is up to.
is a list of our upcoming events in 2006:
Tuesday, January 31
- Movie Night - movie TBA
Tuesday, February 28
- Book Club, Book: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis
Tuesday, March 21
- Craft Night
Tuesday, April 25
- Guest Speaker: Val McIntyre, who will talk about her experiences
with International H.O.P.E.
Tuesday, May 30
- Year End Potluck
4:00 pm - Blue Christmas Service
A service for those
Family Christmas Service
An Organ Recital of Carols given by Don Menzies
Choral Candlelight Service
JANUARY 14, 2006
1:30 pm 3:30 pm
An Epiphany Journey
Deadline for Annual General Reports
Website of The Month:
"Earth Light" calls itself a journal of
spiritual and ecological living. In their own words "Empowering
indivduals and communities to live and work in touch with
Earth and Spirit." The current issue has some thoughtful
quotations from the writings of Annie Dillard.
Shop Christmas Sale
How far can you make $300 go this Christmas season? A Christmas
dinner for the extended family? New jackets for the kids?
How about the latest video game system? Thanks to the generous
donations of Westminsters congregation,this year $300
will be given to West Broadways Art City drop-in art
studio, where it will fund a variety of community-enriching
programs. The money was raised at the sixth annual Children
Shop Christmas Sale, held December 4th at Westminster.
The Christmas Sale is organized by Outreach Committee member
Lisa Caldwell, though its continued success hinges on the
support of many volunteers and donations from the congregation.
The list of valued volunteers includes Outreach Committee
members as well as others like the Friday morning Disciple
group and the adult choir, which moved its practice into
the sanctuary on the Friday evening before the sale. The
congregation, meanwhile, pitched in items for the sale,
sewing bags and provided treats for those involved.
The value of the sale is felt throughout the community,
as evidenced by a phone call one Outreach Committee member
received a few years ago. Speaking with the Outreach worker
at nearby Mulvey School, the committee member heard how
much the sale means to the areas children. Many of
these children, she heard, come to school on Mondays after
the sale and speak with excitement about their purchases.
Back to Art City. Established in 1998 by painter Wanda Koop,
Art City has transformed a boarded up nightclub at 616 Broadway
into an art studio that offers programming for people of
all ages. Each month over 275 participants take advantage
of its free programs, which include aboriginal arts and
crafts, adult and kids pottery, photography and trips
to cultural institutions around Winnipeg. Snacks are also
offered to participants, many of whom may have not eaten
previously that day. Art Citys brightly painted storefront
has become an integral part of the neighbourhood over the
years. Seven years after its creation it remains a focal
point for community members to get to know each other and
develop their own sense of self-esteem and pride.
David Huband Again!
The Globe and Mail Reports: In the new comedy
series The Buck Calder Experience, Hollywood screws
up Canada's history but gives us the last laugh."
The series, six episodes on CityTV early in 2006,
features David Huband as the bombastic, dim-witted
Director, Buck, who "Hollywood- izes"
Canadian history (Louis Riel dog-sledding in the
North Pole, actors wrestling "Arctic Pythons"
and so on). Another star in David's comedy acting
Congratulations to Sarah Joyce who celebrated
her 101st birthday on December 7th.
Congratulations to Murray and Bonnie Kerr
who celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary, December
Amahl Has Come and Gone
A great way to begin the Christmas season, we had our own production
of Amahl and The Night Visitors. This was a Three Choir Presentation
with host, Westminster Choir, and guests, Fair Warning Women's
Chorus and Brochan Lom Men's Chorus. The chorus of shepherds and
shepherdesses never sou nded better. Leads were Cathy McIvor,
Mother, Tyler Drachuk, Amahl, and the royal connection Fred Simpson,
Steven Byquist, Bradley Taylor-Pirogov and Roy Halstead. Glen
and Margaret Harrison guided us through the production. Proceeds
went to the Betty Halstead Music Bursary Fund.
EVENTS at WESTMINSTER UNITED CHURCH
During the course of each year, regular fundraising events
are organized to support the operations of Westminster United
Church. These events also provide fellowship opportunities
for the congregation and surrounding community. A committee
has been established at Westminster to look at new opportunities
that may exist for fundraising. This committee also coordinates
the scheduling of new and existing events. At this time the
following projects are in the works for the coming year:
September to December Sale of Peak of
the Market Recipe CDs. These CDs will be available for
$12 each at all events.
Sale of potted plants Christian Education Project
April Afternoon of Bridge (with door prizes
May Giant Garage Sale (volunteers needed all
June Golf Tournament (with dinner)
September to August Be our Guest.
Details to be announced
Other events will be announced as they are confirmed. Volunteers
are needed for all events. If you are interested in assisting
in any of these projects, please call the office at 784-1330
and your name will be forwarded to the appropriate liaison
Rita Menzies, Chair, Fundraising Committee
your Company in the
Ad size - 9 1/4cm x 12 1/4cm (one-quarter page) camera
ready Newsletter published monthly
Price - $200 for 10 months or $100 for 5 months.
Distribution - The newsletter is copies are distributed throughout
the church; the newsletter is posted on the church website.
Please contact church office at 784-1330 for print deadlines.
Having to pack up and travel almost 150 km because the
government told you to! Moreover, because they want to
count and tax you. So you pack up what little you have
(which isnt very much) and prepare your pregnant
wife for the journey
.Yes, I said pregnant wife!
And not just a little pregnant; Nine months pregnant at
You are going to travel all that distance with the expectant
mother, not on a plane, or a train, or even a bus. No
car, not even a horse-drawn cart. You are traveling on
foot; She is riding a donkey! Now I ask you, for someone
whos pregnant, whats worse: walking for ten
days or riding a smelly animal over a bumpy landscape for
that time? (If her body wasnt ready to give birth
at the beginning of the trek, shell definitely be
ready when they reach their intended town.)
Finally after all that traveling, you reach your destination
(and by now your wife is groaning from contractions) only
to discover there is no place to sleep! What now? Fortunately,
one of the innkeepers has taken pity on the two of you and
has offered his stable. Now were talking about a dwelling
that is open to the cold of night and full of more smelly
animals. (Just what the mum-in-labour needs.)
Not the ideal conditions to usher in a new life to the world.
Sure, they may have received clean cloths and
quite probably a
was fetched to catch the baby; but imagine with
all the sounds and smells, and flies, flying around, it
could not have been pleasant for poor Mary. (Anyone who
has given birth can attest to that.)
Never-the-less, a child was born that night in the little
town of Bethlehem to Mary and Joseph that was destined to
cast out darkness and shed light, not only for the proud
parents, but ultimately, for the whole world as well.
Born in blood and pain, He came into this world and through
pain and blood, He left it; This begotten Son of God.
In case you missed our report on the great light display
and train ride out at Bill Taylors place heres
a picture of Len La Rue engineering the train
with young guest.
Flowers in the Sanctuary in Remembrance
Joyce Bennett In loving memory of my beloved Peter
and others so loved.
Derraugh Family In loving memory of Orville Derraugh.
Betty Dick In loving memory of loved ones.
The Mort Family In loving memory of Ernest Mort, husband
and father; and Susan Peters, mother and grandmother.
Effie Isford In loving memory of loved ones.
Carol Macoomb In loving memory of Anne Smith.
Robert, Linda and James Campbell In loving memory of
Yvonne Ballentyne Chase In loving memory of my parents
Alfred and Ruth Ballentyne.
Ron Clement In loving memory of my parents, my sister
Claire Stubbs and my nephew Robert Stubbs.
Karen, Jennifer and Michael Romanoff In loving memory
of Barrie William Romanoff a wonderful husband and a great
Ron and Elizabeth Russell In loving memory of Anne
and Ray Fines, and Mary and Laurence Russell.
Sigrid Schibler In loving memory of my husband
Jim and my daughter Suzanne.
Isabelle Tiwari In loving memory of my precious son
Rudy Tiwari, I miss you so much.
Elizabeth and Mercedes Toral In memory of our dear
mother and father Dinora and Belarmion Toral.
Eileen Weir In loving memory of my beloved parents
Mary and David Weir.
Pat Allan In loving memory of Perry Lynn Allan
Ted and Margaret Cuddy In loving memory of our parents
and Keith, Teds brother.
Ross and Shelagh Yarnell In loving memory of Marguerite
and J.E. Yarnell.
Judy Hill In loving memory of Tom and Vernice Hill.
Bob and Ann Peeler In loving memory of family and friends.
Roy Halstead In loving memory of Betty May.
Deborah Riley In loving memory of Kathryn Bracken and
Deborah McCawley In loving memory of Kathryn Bracken
and Campbell Wright.
Mary Yanke In loving memory of my dear husband, Dan.
Margaret Pattison In loving memory of my husband
Gordon, and our parents Edna and Gilbert Manning, and
Elizabeth and John Pattison.
Margaret Johnstone, Jim and Teresa Young, Larry and Joan Coombe,
Jack and Beryl Lammens, David and Mary-Beth Parrish.
Memory of Kathryn Bracken
I met Kathryn one and a half years ago. Kathryn was helping
me to sponsor my sister and her family. Through this time
we got to know each other very well. We have developed a
great friendship. Through the process of all the paper work
we had to meet numerous times at the church and at her house.
What can I say? She is a wonderful person with positive
attitude. Every time we met she gave me a big smile and
a big hug. I felt the same way and happy to see her too.
Through our meeting I had a chance to meet her husband and
her mam. They are wonderful people. I was glad to know them.
Sometimes we just call each other just to say Hi.
One day we were supposed to meet on the weekend at her house
but it didnt happen. She called me to tell me that
she had flu and was feeling too tired. I told her dont
worry about it. We will meet when you feel better. After
a couple of days I called her back to see how she was doing.
She told me they
to run some tests and she was not feeling well. I told her
to take it easy and get some rest.
One morning she called me and told me about the disease.
I was speechless. I felt so bad about it. I told her you
know why before I moved to this house my neighbor 37 years
old was diagnosed with breast cancer and I was helping her
get through the disease emotionally and physically. Now
she is cancer free, so dont worry about it. You are
young. You will fight this disease. I will help you in every
way I can. She said to me thank you very much. I really
need to hear that. Through her illness I had a chance to
see her once. After that we have talked over the phone.
I know that each day she was getting tired. I told her me
and my family are praying for her.
I have never met a person like Kathryn. What a big loss.
I missed her terribly. She is too young to die, but its
Gods will. We have no power. May God bless her and
Our sympathy is extended to Gary and Cheryl Drachuk and
their sons, Jeremy and Tyler, on the death of Garys
father, John, on November 15th., and on the death of his
mother, Lena, on December 6th.
We extend condolences to Margaret Hudson on the passing
of her daughter, Karen Kowbel, at the end of October