Here we go, into the first Sunday of Advent. We’ve moved things up a week since Advent 4 falls on Christmas Eve. We have too many activities, too much great music, and too many sermon ideas to miss a week, so we’re starting early and celebrating fulsomely.
Our theme throughout Advent is ‘Angels Among Us’. We’re not the first people to live through a stressful time. Every time the angels appeared with news from God, the recipients of the message were startled, and afraid. The angels’ first message was always: “Do not be afraid”. They needed to calm people’s hearts before the promises of God’s nearness could be heard. And so we too will gather, acknowledging the anxieties of our times, and being opened to the hope, peace, joy and love that is announced by the angels. We will learn how to fly in the face of fear, and stand hopeful in the face of despair.
Dec. 3 there will be a congregational meeting after worship to vote on a new name for the congregation.
This is going to be hard. Choosing a name is another step in transitioning from who we were, to who we are becoming. It is both exciting and, a reminder of loss. It gives rise to our joy and our hope and, to our sorrow. It may be a real acknowledgment of relinquishing what was. So yes, it’s going to be hard.
First, there will need to be a decision about whether adherents can vote. Historically both congregations have been very open to allowing those who aren’t members to vote. When the issue is so close to our hearts there might be a temptation to offer that privilege to only those who hold full membership – to those who historically have made the commitment through a declaration of faith at some time in their lives, and specifically to the former congregations of Ryerson and Dunbar. On the other hand, there are many, young and old, who for many reasons have not become full members, but who nevertheless contribute greatly to the life and the future of the congregation. And then, you need to chose a name. Dunbar Ryerson United Church, Arbutus United Church or Pacific Spirit United Church. For me, the greatest challenge is going to be not which decisions to make, but how to be if the decisions don’t go the way you’d like them to. My fervent prayer is that we are filled with the graciousness of God, and as widely open as possible to receive whatever the outcomes as something that the Spirit has aided us in attaining. Dec. 3 is the Sunday of Joy – let us make this decision with the gift of Christ’s joy and the promise of Christ’s hope, peace and love, whatever our name. I am holding you in deep prayer as this time of discernment and decision comes forward.
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