As we enter into the Advent and Christmas season, in a world torn by violenceand so many seeking safety, let us remember that our faith is centered on a child born under military occupation, who had to flee his homeland with his parents shortly after his birth. The Christ child was no stranger to conflict, to poverty, to world in deep need of compassion. It was his life’s work to bring that compassion to a hurting world. In our small but powerful way, it is what we strive to do through our ministry at Sicamous United Church.
Our ongoing work at the Thrift Shop gives us opportunity every week to practice compassion in the way we interact with our customers and work with each other as staff and volunteers. Last week, a young woman that I’ve had some wonderful and tender conversations with, said: “You seem to show up, just when I need you.” I know it doesn’t always work that way, but when it does – I’m so grateful to be working here, listening, hugging, praying and laughing with people.
Our worship during this season is also rooted in compassion and justice.
The Advent Candles: This year our Advent Candle liturgy will be based on United Church of Canada resources seeking a just peace for Palestine and Israel. Each week, a symbol from the Advent Peace box will be offered, along with a story that comes from the Holy Land illustrating hope, peace, joy and love.
The Advent Peace Box: For over 10 years, Canadians working for a just peace in Israel and Palestine have been purchasing and distributing Zatoun olive oil and other products as a means of advocating for economic justice for Palestinians. Last year I purchased a box and had 5 bottles of olive oil for sale. This year I doubled my order of oil, plus an herb mix and olive oil soap. I’ve completely sold out! Thank you to those who supported this ministry, and my apologies to those who missed out. Nutters Health Foods in Centanoka Mall in Salmon Arm also has fair-trade Palestinian olive oil for approx. $20.00 per 750 ml bottle.
Saturday, Dec 19th 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM Complimentary Coffee & Cookies day: During the hectic and final $2.00 per bag sale before the Thrift Shop closes for the holidays, the congregation will be offering coffee, tea and cookies to our volunteers, staff and customers.
At 4:00 PM that same day, I will be offering a Blue Christmas service in the sanctuary for anyone who needs to acknowledge that this can be a difficult time of year if you are grieving a loss or significant change in your life. Come – light a candle, and be held in God’s love.
Sunday Dec 20th 10:00 AM: The seven piece Black & Bluez band will again be our musical worship guests – blessing us with some familiar carols to sing along with, and some beautiful new melodies. This is a great service for those who are a little church-shy, but love great music.
Thursday, Dec. 24th 7:00 PM: All ages Christmas Eve service. Come and hear afresh in word, symbol and song, the Christmas story. We will end the service with candle-light.
Sunday, Dec 27th 10:00 AM: We will worship together and bless each other into the New Year.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the congregation for blessing me with a modified sabbatical for three months starting in January. I will be here most Sundays to lead worship, but will be working from home during the week to do some writing and compiling for a book of my songs, prayers and short stories.
In the first chapter of Luke’s gospel, Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, sings a blessing to his newborn child. I have adapted the blessing and offer it to you during this holy season:
You, children of God, are the messengers of the Holy One.
Go into the world touching the lives of the broken-hearted,
so that the healing love of Divine Mystery may enter th
Teach and live forgiveness, so that Divine Light may enter
the dark realm of misery, pain, addiction, and loneliness.
May Love and Light guide you on the path of peace.
Many blessings for a happy and holy Christmas
Rev. Juanita Austin Sicamous United Church