A Lovely & Memorable Christmas Tea
Come and attend a cherished tradition and community event at Presteign-Woodbine United Church 2538 St. Clair Avenue East on December 11th at 7:00pm.
Reverend Emily Gordon will offer one of three short reflections at the service alongside Reverend Rose Ann Vita. Refreshments to follow.
Photo credits: http://www.presteign-woodbineuc
Last week, we thought about the need to keep the meaning of Christmas big enough, to not let it be reduced to delicious baking, time with our closest friends or family, and some lights on a Christmas tree. As a vision of what is possible, what the world might be, we need to be ambitious. At times, given the way the world is turning, this ambition feels delusional – and yet, it is necessary. In an image that we heard from Isaiah this week (Isaiah 11:1), our faith calls us to see where a new shoot might emerge, where the unexpected branch might grow. Even as we face fear, anxiety, grief, and despair, our faith demands that we seek the signs of new life that emerge. Our faith reminds us that death, in all its forms, is not the final word.
For the past year or two I have been actively thinking about the question: “What do we want our world to look like?” and its counterpart “How do we, as a church, work to support, to help bring about this vision?” With these questions, faith is the motivation, the driving force for action. For me, what we do is not about the insistence of a certain intellectual belief system, the perpetuation of nominally Christian values, or the continuance of what we call the church. Instead, it is about being driven by the spirit to bring about what our scriptures call variously terms such as the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of God” (which are about this world and this life, by the way). It is about working towards a vision so incredible, so powerful, that it can only be described through poetry, through metaphor, through dreams.
How will we work to bring about this vision? On Sunday, we discussed a little about wrong ways of trying this – being too caught up in the details and so missing the spirit of the thing, or allowing differences in our visions to become points of division. Of course, this has implications for our personal lives in the busy Christmas season, as well as for our congregation now that we have voted to accept the amalgamation covenant with Presteign-Woodbine United Church. But the implications don’t stop at the personal or the community. I’ll be returning to this question and look forward to hearing some of your answers, some of your poetry, possibilities and dreams. This congregation, and our new congregation to be, are filled with intelligent, creative, compassionate, questioning and dedicated people – the perfect people to take part in this challenging and wondrous work. I can’t wait to see what we do together next.
For now, we approach Christmas remembering the miracle of new life hidden in our midst: God-with-us, Emmanuel.
So here we are in Advent already. The time when we approach Christmas – waiting and preparing. The word advent comes from the Latin “vent” or “to come” and “ad” or “to”. During advent we are coming toward Christmas, approaching the stories and the wonder of the fragile and beautiful human life and love. During advent, we await the coming toward us of Jesus, the birth of the sacred in our midst. We look not only to the past, but await where this will happen in our lives and in our world. We not only treasure our stories from scripture, but seek where this is happening right now in our lives and in our world. (The Moderator’s Christmas Message this year speaks to this idea; it can be found in the December 2016 Observer – if you don’t get the Observer, feel free to stop by my office and read the message, and consider signing up to get it the next couple of weeks after church).
There’s lots I could say about this past Sunday (and please ask me if you’re interested in hearing my thoughts about whether hoping for something and having hope in something are different) but I want to focus on my claim that I can tell you authoritatively what the “magic of Christmas” looks like, because I watched quite a few of those Christmas TV movies a few years ago. The “magic of Christmas” is getting together with your family on Christmas Eve to decorate a tree, eat Christmas cookies (baked at home of course), and finding your true love – who does not happen to be the unlikeable person you were with at the start of the movie, easily identified because they are too busy with business meetings to enjoy home baking and family time. This is what the magic of Christmas looks like and, besides the soulmate bit, it is not an entirely bad image. But it is also not a particularly big one. It is centered on small relationships, a single home, a return to the familiar (traditions and traditional notions of family). Advertisements offer us another glimpse into the meaning of Christmas, where we reach our happy Christmas ending not through cookies and tree decorating but what is given and received beneath the tree – the perfect gift or present, as well as the perfect party. And while gift-giving can be a meaningful way to express love, it is also not a very big image.
What do we want our vision of a happy ending to be? What do we wait for, long for, prepare for during this time of Advent? What do we want to recognize as the meaning of Christmas? I want mine to be big enough. And so I turn to visions like the words of the book of Isaiah, a dream for peace for all people:
They shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
Advent knitting preparing for winter. All hand knit goods, if you are interested in purchasing any of these items see Joan Bell. Proceeds will be donated to local Outreach programs.
Leaside United Church’s FUNdraiser, Give & Go … has LAUNCHED! And what a launch it was! The bell rang throughout the gym announcing one sold out event after another! Overall we raised just under $15,000 for the local needs of the church with fabulous events from Chocolate and Champagne to Meat Pies donated by Presteign-Woodbine United Church.
Although many events have sold out, some are still available for sale. Check in the Hearth Room after church for one of our committee members to sign up. On behalf of the Give & Go Committee, we can’t thank you enough – both the hosts of all the terrific events and the participants who will enjoy the generously donated events. We are thrilled to be part of such a vibrant community!
My name is Molly, I’ve been attending LUC since I was a little girl. My husband and I returned to LUC together shortly after we moved to East York in early 2010. At this time I joined the worship committee. After welcoming our first daughter into our family, we both joined the CD committee. Recently I re-joined the worship committee, and my husband remains a member of the CD committee.
As a young girl, my involvement in this church had a significant impact on my confidence and self-worth. I was a member of the junior choir, singing hymns walking up the aisle in my choir gown every Sunday is something I have fond memories of. Being a founding member of the C-flats church band, playing clarinet was something I was extremely proud of too. Playing a lady bug in the Easter play, participating in advent decorating parties, reading scripture, attending Youth group, going to choir parties, enjoying Sunday fellowship, and being engaged as a member of this church as a young girl has shaped who I am today.
As a young mother, my involvement at Leaside United church continues to have a positive impact on my confidence and self-worth. I know that Leaside United Church is also offering my family and my two girls, the same, safe, nurturing, and supporting environment that I had as a young girl, allowing us to explore our beliefs together.
Leaside United Church is important to me because of the sense of community it brings to my family and to my faith. Having a network of support is essential as an individual and as a family. I grew up going to Leaside United, and have returned with my own family because the community of faith it offers is so special and welcoming.
Long ago, when I was in highschool, one of the essays we read was by Ursula K. LeGuin. In it she compared her storytelling style to a woman in a hunter-gather society, who would forage for food, placing in the bag she carried anything she came across that might be good to eat. She said her writing was like that – maybe she would come across herbs, or some berries, and in they would go, all held together by a bag rather than forced into a narrative arc.
I’ve been thinking these past few weeks how that might be a good description of my ministry. You will come up and tell me something, or give me something – an idea for something the congregation might do, someone who is ill, an issue that you care deeply about, a challenge you are facing, your worry for someone else, your enthusiasm over something that has happened, an interesting article, book or resource… And I put it in my bag. You might not see anything happen right away, but it’s there, nestled against someone else’s story, or worry, or joy. I mull it over, wait for the time to pull it out, connect it to something else, hold it up for everyone to see in a sermon or reflection. Wait for the time to give it back to you with a question or reflection, or to pass it on to someone else. So, if you’re wondering, “why isn’t she doing anything about what I said?” know that I’m carrying your words with me. It may not be that everything follows a clear narrative arc, but that isn’t what life is like. And I’ll journey beside you as you continue to share your insights and questions, your concerns and inspirations. Let’s see what feast appears, as we continue to break bread together.
(416) 425-1253 ext. 25