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A Christmas Message
from Robert Campbell
If there is a word that sums up December, it must surely
be “preparations.” By now, our preparations for Christmas
are in full flight. Trees and lights have gone up,
decorations have been hung, poinsettias are being
purchased, baking being churned out, malls being thronged,
cards and gifts being mailed or delivered, donations being
made, travel plans being finalized, lists being composed,
and, in organized households, lists being ticked off.
So much is happening: the frenzy of shopping and
gift-giving, the busy round of recitals and school
concerts and caroling engagements, the social calendar of
luncheons and parties and family gatherings, and, for
ministers, the churning out of special liturgies and
services. In the midst of all the busyness, we can easily
be seduced into imagining that Christmas is something that
we do rather than something that we receive.
That is why I am glad that, in our church, we gathered at
the Communion Table to celebrate the Lord’s Supper on the
first Sunday of Advent, right at the beginning of the busy
season. What happens at the Table reminds me that, before
Christmas can be about our preparations, it is about God’s
preparations. The Table is about what God has done and
what we may receive. It speaks of God how took this flesh
of ours and made it holy. It speaks of how God, through
the fruit of Mary’s womb, forever anointed humanity with
grace. It speaks of how “the Word became flesh and lived
among us . . . full of grace and truth” and how “from his
fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John
John Calvin, a towering
figure of the Reformation and one of the greatest-ever
theologians of the church, says that, in the Sacrament of
Communion, we have a witness to our life in Christ, a life
in which “whatever is Christ’s may be called ours.”
Imagine: Whatever is Christ’s becomes ours. How could this
be, that we should receive his blessings, his glory, his
riches, his life? Well, here the sacrament points to the
mystery of the incarnation, in which Christ comes to share
our life and give us all he has to give. Calvin calls this
the “wonderful exchange.”
“This is the wonderful
exchange, which out of his measureless benevolence,
[Christ] has made with us,
that, becoming Son of Man with us, he has made us
[children] of God with him;
that, by his descent to earth, he has prepared an ascent
to heaven for us;
that, by taking on our mortality, he has conferred his
immortality upon us;
that, accepting our weakness, he has strengthened us by
that, receiving our poverty unto himself, he has
transferred his wealth to us;
that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon himself, he
has clothed us with his
righteousness.” (Institutes, IV.xvii.2)
When you think of all that Christ has done for us, how can
you label it anything other than a wonderful exchange? In
a season full of exchanges, this is one that, in the end,
will make a difference. So may our preparations this
season focus on the wonderful exchange and may Christmas
be for us a time for living in response to Christ’s
||Murray Kerr & Roy Halstead with the
Mitten Tree with thanks to our knitters who
make it happen
||Shelley, Shayna, and Kayla Giesbrecht
the First candle of Advent on December 2nd.
||The First Sunday in Advent and the
Membership and Pastoral Care Committee
was busy sending out poinsettias to our shutin
members. Sue Fenwick is shown giving
plants to Bob Burton for delivery while Mary
Yanke and Mary Ann Taylor wait for their
plants to deliver.
A Christmas Message
from Joan Jarvis
Song, the Magnificat is one that certainly does not need an
introduction. Perhaps this is so, not only because it is a
familiar piece of scripture, but also because so many
wonderful musicians have composed special music, capturing
the passion - composers such as Monteverdi, Bach, Vivaldi,
Mozart to name a few. And so it is that in this Advent
season we once again are blessed to hear a woman break out
in song, praising God for coming to her in a special way in
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God
Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of
Mary is saying something like this… “My whole self shouts
and sings that God is great because God looks upon me, a
most ordinary woman, and asks me to give birth to the holy
child.” Mary is the woman asked by God to birth One who
turns upside down all of our values and shows us the real
meaning of our lives. Mary is so moved by this vision of
God, the lover of the lowly, that she breaks forth in song -
a song that has come to be known as the Magnificat.
The Magnificat reminds us that Christmas is about God coming
in ordinary life to love us fully in our concrete everyday
day-to-day lives. God steps into our lives, to say, “I love
you. I can give meaning, hope and joy to your life. I can
help you love others too.” In some ways, it is as simple as
that! This is what Christmas is really all about. And yet
the paradox is, that’s what we still have trouble believing
- that we have an everyday God, who is with us every moment
of our day, in all our situations, to hold us, to love us,
to remake us, to give us a new birth for life.
Over the years, many in the Christian church have venerated
Mary to such an extent that she has been placed high on a
pedestal, and in so doing, we miss the real point of Jesus’
birth. The miracle of Christmas is not so much that Mary was
a Saint, but that God chose a most ordinary woman for the
birth of God in our midst – a birth that brings new life to
the whole world.
This is the Good News of Christmas - it is not our presents,
our good food, or our heart-warming music. It is that God
becomes ordinary through a most ordinary woman to love all
of us ordinary people into a full life. That’s where we can
find meaning; that’s what we can share simply with others
searching for new life today.
In this blessed season, may God once again be born into our
lives so that we may find new life and, like Mary, be called
blessed, as God works through us to share God’s love with
others in our midst.
In peace and celebration
received an email after the 115th Anniversary service, a pat
on the back to the Choir. the text as follows:
“I have made a request for the CBC2 Radio Request show in
case you are home. I had asked for St. Cecelia’s Day but had
no idea that they would play it on the anniversary of John
F. Kennedy’s death. I was so impressed by the Westminster’s
Choir’s version of John Rutter’s All things Bright.... that
I have asked to hear it again. Maybe they will read my text
which said that I was in Winnipeg (that weekend).”
Our thanks to the gentleman who sent the message.
Blake Rodrick Rouxel: Died November
18, after a long illness. Our sympathies are extended to his wife,
Alaina, and his in-laws, Al and Judy Graham of Westminster Church.
By Ernest Janzen
time of year thoughts turn to baking, decorating, crowded malls and
even-worse-than-usual-drivers (it appears that many Manitobans
suffer from amnesia brought on by the first snow – have you never
driven in this before?).
My thoughts turn to the cold. Is there a nihilistic element among
the reasons that keep us plugged into this deep-freeze year after
year? I have often heard that Winnipeggers have a healthy
self-image, if not a delicious sense of humour that provides us with
the bravado to endure the bitter cold.
Humour is one of the ways we deal with something as mundane as the
weather. My friends and I “comfort” each other with near-daily
e-mails that at some point contain the following: ODC. It stands for
One Day Closer. And so, every day we are ODC to the snow melting. In
a slightly warped way, the message of ODC is comforting.
Humour is an innate part of life. Sarcasm on the other hand, is
discovered and/or learned behaviour. I did not teach my children to
laugh. Each of them came to enjoy the world of laughter in their own
unique way. But I distinctly remember as each of my children began
to notice that sarcasm was a particular manner of communication …
and they began to catch on to when I was being sarcastic.
Sarcasm can be used to teach valuable
lessons. Witness the statement: going to Church doesn’t make you a
Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
Have you ever thought about God as being sarcastic? In October, we
noted that God had many human-like attributes (eyes, hands, face,
etc.). Last month, we commented on the linguistic capabilities of
God and how this resulted in our assumption that regardless of the
languages we speak, God must understand them.
The notion of an anthropomorphized God is advanced further as we
read about a God who is not necessarily the progenitor of stand-up
comedians, but who is nevertheless a God who can fling sarcasm with
The text in question comes from Job. Just before the climax of the
text in chapter 42 (when all wrongs are righted), the reader is
given the impression that God has been “silently listening” to all
the musings of “why-bad-things-happen-to-good-people”. In chapters
38 and 39 (and trickling into 40 and 41) God lets loose with a
barrage of sarcasm that is unparalleled in the biblical text. In
“confronting” those who think they are so wise, God lambastes them
for their arrogance with repeated tongue-lashings.
My favourite “jab” from the Creator
comes in the response to one of the many rhetorical questions that
are levied throughout the extended tirade. To the reader it is very
clear that answers are not available because the questions refer
back to the beginning of time. Nevertheless, God says, dripping with
sarcasm: “You know, for you were born then, and the number of your
days is great!” (Job 38:21).
The exchange in its entirety is worth a read. In the end, and in
spite of the charged language, God accepts and responds in
restitution to the humility posited by Job.
Returning to the question that guides this series, do we have
sarcastic capabilities and tendencies because that is part of God’s
being? Or, have our “creative” abilities been read back onto the
Creator – as with the other anthropomorphisms? The presence of
humour and sarcasm is of existential relevance to those of us who
deal with Winter in a quasi-sarcastic manner (e.g., through the
mantra of ODC). Given where we live, sarcasm is far from the lowest
form of humour. I tend to view it as a required element to maintain
one’s sanity in anticipation of the day … the day that the
perennials start to push their way up gently through the earth that
only recently was as hard as concrete. Thank God for sarcasm …
wherever it comes from!
Sarcasm aside, ODC!
The crowd gathered at Marilyn Huband’s
in November 16th to put together the Famous Westminster Mincemeat.
137 2-cup containers were produced and sold to the congregation to
raise a profit of $462 for the Church. Once again Roy Halstead was
proudly responsible for adding the liquid zip which makes our
mincemeat so special!
Alice Nichol, Elaine Finbogasson, & Gladys Comeault, apple
Beth Derraugh, another happy peeler
Marilyn Huband, in her kitchen, grinding the
Sigrid Schibler fi lled the containers, while Elaine lurked!
Every Christmas Communion we give a
portion of our collection to L.I.T.E. (Local Investment Towards
Employment). And once a year LITE holds a Blueberry Pancake
Breakfast to further raise funds.
This year Joan, Robert, and Roy went to eat and support this
community organization. While there they met Lisa Caldwell,
teacher at Red River College who had her class at the event to
work as volunteers.
Good food, lots of entertainment, some people with balloon hats
and Joan almost bought a picture.
Westminster has a Singles group
An informal lunch-once-a-month
collection of as many people who show up on a Sunday after Church.
Sometimes it’s 10. Sometimes it’s 5. Carol Latter (email@example.com)
is Chair and CEO! Send her a message if you would like to be
included in the group. No fees. No hassles. No apologies if you
can’t make it some months. It includes women and men. And you pay
for your own lunch! Carol makes the arrangements and keeps
everyone informed. Can you make it in January?