Please read through this whole eMessage so that you don’t miss the information about our continuing Outreach at Spirit West.
This Sunday –Advent 3
This Sunday is the Sunday of Joy in the Advent cycle. It’s old Latin name was Gaudete Sunday. This name came from the introit, or opening phrase that was said at the beginning of the Mass for the day. “Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, Gaudete.” “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice.” The line comes from Philippians 4:4–6. If you have been following our Worship Videos you may recognize this passage, as I have frequently used it to introduce the centring time and prayers of the people. The colour that is associated with Gaudete Sunday is rose (which some people call pink), and you will notice that the third candle of our Advent Wreath is rose. And I am using a sort of rose coloured font for this part of the eMessage. I hope it is not too hard to read. The challenge with this Sunday of Joy is that our world usually confuses joy with happiness, so that the call to rejoice sounds a lot like “Be Happy!” And we know that there are times, and right now may be one of them, when we just can’t be that happy. So the call to “Be Happy!” can actually be hurtful. So what is the difference between joy and happiness? Can we be joyful when we are not happy? The theologian Henri Nouwen described the difference between joy and happiness this way. While happiness is dependent on external conditions, joy is "the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing – sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death - can take that love away." Thus joy can be present even in the midst of sadness. One of the scripture passages often associated with this Sunday (but we’re not using this year) is the Song of Mary, or the Magnificat from Luke 1: 47-55. This is a song of rejoicing sung by Mary as she meets her cousin Elizabeth. The whole “song” reflects an overturning of all that is expected and accepted as the way things are in the world. And this is being sung by a young pregnant women, whose child was not conceived in the normal or socially approved way. And we are told that Mary “went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country.” Mary was going into hiding, she stayed with Elizabeth for three months. Perhaps this was how long it took to get things sorted out with Joseph. Luke tells us later that when the couple went to register in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary were still just engaged, not married. Awkward. And yet as she went into hiding, she was able to say, “my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”. As we live through this strange Christmas of 2020, in separation and isolation, may we know divine joy. Joy can be present even in the midst of …..
The Scripture Readings are Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11, 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24 and John 1:6-8, 19-28. In the Time for All Ages, I will be looking at things “That makes me joyful” My sermon is titled, “Divine Joy”
ADVENT AT SPIRIT WEST
ZOOM Coffee Hour – Sundays in Advent
We had a very nice ZOOM coffee hour last Sunday. We even had someone join us who is new to the area and has been worshipping with us through our YouTube videos. So for the Sundays in Advent join the virtual coffee hour on ZOOM at 11:30 am on Sunday. Visit with others from the congregation over a cup of coffee (or tea, or whatever…). This is a trial, and if it is successful, we will continue it. You do not need to register in advance, just click on the link.So, starting on Sunday, November 29 at 11:30 am ZOOM to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85252850387?pwd=NmhhV0VvbjhEVERQajFDNm90cXpqdz09 for our coffee hour.
Advent Small Group Study – “Now is the time” and you can still sign up!
Our virtual small group study on ZOOM continues this Wednesday at 1:30. The Study, which will continue for the next two Wednesdays in Advent, is called “Now is the Time.” In the third session we will looking at “signs of the times.”
Registration is required for the study, so that I can send out the resource material each week. And it’s not too late to register. Email or call the church to register. Even if you can’t attend every session, you can register so that you will receive the study material
Just email me, email@example.com or call the church.
CHRISTMAS EVE AND CHRISTMAS EVE OFFERING
Our Worship Team at Spirit West will be creating a special Worship Video for Christmas Eve this year. It will be available on December 24. Part of the service will be by candlelight, so we would encourage you to have small candles available for each person in your household (maybe battery operated for young children).
In “normal” years when we gather at the church for Christmas Eve, we take up a special offering. For a number of years now this offering has been divided between the needs of Spirit West United Church and the No Room in the Inn program of the Edmonton and District Council of Churches. This year No Room in the Inn has chosen Catholic Social Services - La Salle Shelter and St Katharine Drexel Place for their 2020 campaign.This campaign’s focus is domestic violence and the need for women’s shelters. We are appealing for support for two women’s shelters, LaSalle Shelter and St. Katharine Drexel Place, which are in need of backyard upgrades so that the children in care can safely play outside on the properties:
- La Salle Shelter, a second-stage shelter, annually helps more than 30 women and their children escape domestic violence, and transition into stable housing. La Salle shelters those who are fleeing abusive relationships, where they can stay for six months to one year.
- St. Katharine Drexel Place supports dozens of women each year to stabilize their lives by helping them pursue career and educational goals, focus on family, and find permanent residence in the community. This is subsidized, transitional housing for women in crisis and their children. Clients are homeless, vulnerably-housed, or at risk of homelessness.
SPIRIT WEST OUTREACH
It’s that time of year when we are usually collecting toys and putting together stockings for the Bissell Centre. This year due to Covid-19, Bissell will not be having their annual Christmas Party.
Winter warming meals are currently under discussion for the Jasper Place Wellness Centre. If we are able to continue with the bagged lunches we made in the past, we will have approx. 3 dates January - March 2021 that our church will be responsible for. (More details to follow as this program is confirmed).
Bissell Center and Jasper Place Wellness are still in need of warm accessories like mitts, hats, hand warmers, scarves, winter underwear, socks, etc. Bill and Lori thought about organizing a drive and drop like they did for the Food Bank - but they didn’t want to stand out in the cold. Also, with the increasing Covid numbers and the new restrictions it doesn’t feel right asking you to drop things off at the church let alone go out and shop.
So, those of you who wish to give something this Christmas to help others in need - please do so in a monetary way directly, by mail or online to one of the many organizations out there.
If you have items at your house that you would like to donate - please don’t take them to the church at this time. A date will be posted in January for when Lori will be picking up from the church.
SPIRIT WEST WORSHIP VIDEOS
Using the list of those who have volunteered to be Scripture readers, Norma has drawn up and sent out a schedule of readers for the next couple of months. If you have read scripture for one of the worship videos, you will be on the schedule and will have received a copy. Please confirm with Norma as soon as possible that you are available to do your reading. Readings can be recorded well in advance of the date required.
Sharing our Celebrations (note the submission deadline)
In this time when it is important for us to look for signs of hope and joy, opportunity is being given for you to share your celebrations (birthdays, anniversaries, new grandchildren etc) with the wider community. If you have a celebration you want to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the church. (must be sent in before noon on Thursday for inclusion on the Sunday) During the opening section or our Worship Video, I will announce celebrations that have been shared with me.
Prayer Requests If you have a prayer request that you would like included in the Prayers of the People that are part of our worship videos, your request needs to be into the church by Thursday at noon for inclusion on Sunday. The best way to send in your request is to email email@example.com. During the Prayers of the People, only the first name of individuals will be mentioned, and the specifics of request The prayer request are also forwarded to the Prayer Chain.
I appreciate all the positive feedback that we have received about the Worship Videos. We (Margaret, Bonnie, Glenn, Paul W. and I) are trying our best to provide you with something that will assist you in your faith journey during this “crazy” time. We would also like to hear from you if you have suggestions on how we could make the videos better or more helpful (like Scripture readers, Greeters, music with the hymns …). Email your comments to me firstname.lastname@example.org or post them on our Facebook page.
YOUR BOTTLES FOR THE CHURCH
You may have bottles piling up for recycling. You can bring them to the church (or you can call for pick up). If you want to bring your bottles (and any other recyclable beverage containers) in during our office hours and put them directly in the Bottle Shed (by the garage), give us a call, and we can have the shed open for you. All money raised from the return of bottles goes towards paying down the principal on our mortgage.
We can now accept donations by eTransfer. The contact name for the eTransfer is Spirit West United Church, and the email address is email@example.com . If you include a security question with your eTransfer, please notify Norma at the church office by phone or email. And remember that if you are not on PAR(Pre-Authorized Remittance), you can also mail in cheques to the church office (Spirit West United Church, 7003 – 199 St. Edmonton, AB T5T 3A8, include your envelope number if you have one.) The church office is open and you can drop off your offering/donation in the offering plate just inside the front doors. You can also donate online, see ANOTHER WAY TO CONTRIBUTE… below.
Spirit West Prayer Chain
Prayer is important. We know that people still face challenges and difficulties not related to Covid-19, and we cannot forget them. Our Prayer Chain will continue to be active. If you have a prayer request, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. These requests will be shared regularly with the prayer chain and will form part of the Prayers of the People in our Sunday Worship.
ANOTHER WAY TO CONTRIBUTE FINANCIALLY TO SPIRIT WEST DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
You are stuck home, Spirit West is not holding services, you are not on PAR, but you want to make a financial contribution to the work of Spirit West, because the church has bills to pay even when we are not gathering on Sunday. Check out the online donation option on our website spiritwest.org and click on the Donate tab in the navigation bar.
SPIRIT WEST ONLINE!
Facebook: Spirit West United Church and Friends of Spirit West Outreach
YouTube: Spirt West United Church, Edmonton
The Spirit West Church office remains open.
- Norma => Noon to 5:00 pm, Monday to Thursday
- Larry => 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Tuesday to Friday
(Rev.) Larry K. Wright, CD, BA, MDiv
Spirit West United Church