This Sunday –ADVENT 2
After the rather frightening start to Advent with the readings from last Sunday, with this Sunday’s readings we start to see signs of hope, and new ways of seeing God. In the reading from the prophet Isaiah, the first words are “’Comfort, O comfort my people,’ says your God.” These are words that are to be spoken to a people who have been through a lot of suffering, they are words to be addressed to a people who have been in exile. The message continues with a view of something new happening. There is call to prepare the way of the Lord, by removing the obstacles on the path. We see a vision of a straight road over terrain where the valleys have been filled in, the high places leveled, and all the uneven ground smoothed out. Sounds almost like a call for accessibility. We also see an important vision of God. On the one hand, the prophet says, “See, the Lord God comes with might; and his arm rules for him,” and then a little later says, “He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.” Mighty God, cuddles lambs. Our Gospel reading this week is the opening of the oldest Gospel, Mark. I know it comes second in the order of Gospels, but Mark is the oldest Gospel. Mark’s Gospel does not start with a story of Jesus’ birth. It starts with the proclamation of John the Baptist, a proclamation which echoes the part or the reading from Isaiah. John is an odd individual. He came from a “good family.” His father was Zechariah, a priest at the temple in Jerusalem, his mother was Elizabeth, a cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus. Did John follow in his father’s footsteps and become a priest? No, not really. In Mark’s Gospel, we find John appearing in the wilderness, clothed with camel’s hair and a leather belt, eating locusts and wild honey. In Mark’s gospel, John is seen as the messenger, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Such interesting images for the Divine: mighty, gentle, seeking accessibility, and working through some rather unconventional people. As we move through Advent 2020, perhaps we can find more signs of hope hidden in the unexpected
The Scripture Readings are Isaiah 40: 1-11 and Mark 1: 1-8. In the Time for All Ages, because December 6 is also St. Nicholas Day in some parts of the world, I will be introducing St. Nicholas” My sermon is titled, “Mighty and Gentle God”
Communion this Sunday
This Sunday, we will celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The celebration at the Church will involve only three people from the congregation and me, but I would like you to be able to participate as fully as you can. So I would suggest that, if you can, watch the video at our usual church time of 10:30 on Sunday morning and that you have some bread and grape juice (or wine) for each member of your household. Follow the service and share together at your table, be it the kitchen table, dining table, coffee table or the TV table you have put in front of your television. And as you share the bread and cup in your home, know that others are sharing at the Table of Christ in their homes and around the world.
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!
We are having a virtual small group study on ZOOM on the four Wednesdays in December from 1:30 to 3:00 pm. The Study is called “Now is the Time.” The series begins by re-imagining the Advent and Christmas stories in the time of COVID-19 :
- When Mary Couldn’t Hug Elizabeth.
- When all Joseph Could Do was Dream.
- When Angels Couldn’t Sing.
- When Shepherds Were Sheltering in Place
- When Borders Where Closed.
SPIRIT WEST WOMEN’S GROUP – December ZOOM Meeting
Spirit West Women’s Group will be having a Zoom meeting, Monday December 7@ 7:00P.M. It will be a fun filled night of icebreakers, a brief meeting and a craft (unfortunately we are out of prepared craft kits,) but please join in the Zoom meeting for fun and fellowship.
Please contact Cathy at 780-264-0327, or 780-651-3915 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, to be sure to receive your ZOOM invite.
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 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org . 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 email@example.com. 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