So… will there be a Christmas Eve service at Sicamous United Church? ABSOLUTELY! It all starts at 7:00 PM on Sunday, Dec. 24th (note – there will be no worship service in the morning) The evening service will include a beautiful original story by Rev. Teri Meyer, some traditional carols, and we will end the service with candle-light: battery-operated or the old fashioned fire-on-a-wick kind.
Come for the story and songs, the cookies and coffee, the mystery and the manger. The Holy Spirit will be there, waiting to be invited into our hearts.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…” Isaiah 61:1
There are so many ways of bringing Good News to the poor. Here’s one that I want to share.
I got a phone call last week from my friend Lynn Gairdner. I hadn’t seen her for about a year, but she’d been busy. “I’ve been making some quilts for the homeless”, she told me. Recently, she brought some of them over to my house. They are absolutely beautiful, and very practical too. They have a special layer of fabric insulation sown into them, and contain three `pockets’ at the bottom. One contains a pillow – when you remove the pillow, it’s a cozy foot-warmer. Another pocket contains a bag of new socks, mitts, toque, and towel, and a third pocket contains new toiletries. The foot-warmer pocket has some beautiful embroidery on it and the message: God Bless You.
What motivated Lynn? She’s seen some of the homeless people hanging around the downtown in Salmon Arm. The idea of the quilts came to mind. `But`, she said, `I tired to let it go.’ However the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let her go and basically said `Get on with it.’ Lynn could say, along with the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” She made 12 quilts over the past 12 months, and gave me two to take out to Sicamous United Church and Thrift Shop, trusting that we will find someone who indeed can use this beautiful gift. Lynn’s friend Trudy has been making baby quilts and scarves, and together they are blessing the community with their compassion and generosity. Thank you both for living out the Spirit of Christmas.
For centuries the olive branch has symbolized peace. In Palestine, olive oil is the primary source of income for about 75,000 farmers.
Under the military occupation of Israel, Palestinian farmers have suffered the destruction of their trees and land – bulldozed and burned to make way for illegal settlements or cut off by checkpoints, roadblocks or the imposing thirty foot high concrete `security fence.’
Still, there is a way to give hope and income to Palestinian farmers. Zatoun, (Arabic for Olive), is a company that markets fair trade Palestinian olive oil, soap and the aromatic herb mix called za’atar.
With every purchase of Zatoun, you support a fair price for Palestinian farmers in the struggle for their livelihood and land. As well, a share of proceeds supports Project Hope, an education and art therapy program for youth in Palestine. Another portion goes to Trees for Life, a project to plant tens of thousands of olive tree saplings to replaced trees destroyed by the military occupation.
If you would like to give a gift this Christmas that reflects the value of honouring the Holy Land as a home for both Palestinians and Israelis, you may want to purchase the Zatoun products. They are available at Sicamous United Church, and at my home. I have pre-paid Zatoun, so you can purchase from me directly.
750 ml. bottle of olive oil – $20 (comes with flower seeds from Palestine)
Bar of soap – $5 (beautiful for sensitive skin)
Za’atar herb mix – $5 (comes with a pamphlet of recipes)
Once again, I am delighted to welcome the whole Black & Bluez band to Sicamous United Church on Sunday, Dec. 17th at 10:00 AM. They have been working on a musical Christmas service – with sing-along carols and some special numbers. One of the songs we will be offering is `After the Magnificat’ a song I wrote over 30 years ago, as I wondered how Mary may have felt after the baby was born, and realized how vulnerable they all were – living under military occupation. I have been singing the song for 30 years, but only the words and chords were available before. Thanks to a beautiful piano arrangement by my friend Sabrina Trigg, the song is written out in harmony – the various band instruments filling in the voices.
Come and join us this Sunday and let the music bless you.
And… don’t forget, there will be no service on the morning of Sunday, Dec 24th, but everyone is invited to come to the intergenerational candle-light Christmas Eve service at 7:00 PM.
Now…in the midst of this busy season, set down all the `shoulds’ and `not finished yet’ burdens you carry, and embrace yourself with the same tenderness and trustworthiness that you would the Christ-child. Let love be born again.
Over the past few days, I have felt angry, sad, mortified and incredulous at the audacity of President Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, basically declaring it to be the capital of Israel.
I confess my understanding of the Palestinian- Israeli conflict has only really developed over the past few years, but I do have an inkling of what sorts things make for peace, and what is definitely counter-productive to peace. This action profoundly jeopardizes any chance at real and justice-centred peace. I lean then, into the wisdom and spiritual grace of Rev. Naim Ateek, a Christian Palestinian and Chair of Sabeel – a Palestinian Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem. Here is his Christmas message. May it gives strength to your spirit.
Blessings, Rev. Juanita
During this Christmas Season, we pause to give thanks and praise to the gracious and loving God for the coming of Jesus Christ through whom we have come to know God’s true nature of LOVE. In Christ we know that God’s love extends to all people and embraces all. We know that God wills for people to live in justice and peace with one another. God’s love for humanity culminated in the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem today is desperately in need of the manifestation of God’s love. Jerusalem’s fate is being decided by the powerful, by those who can, who do not realize “what makes for peace”. They do not realize that their power cannot bring peace to the city of Jerusalem.
During this Christmas season, and at the end of another year, it is appropriate to renew our commitment to the work of justice and peace for our Palestinian people by focusing on three essential qualities of our Christian life, namely, FAITH, HOPE and LOVE.
*Our life in the world demands faith. Faith, not only in God, but also faith in ourselves and others, that together with determination and diligence, we can persevere in striving for justice and liberation for the Palestinian people. We also need faith to fight despair, apathy and disappointments. We need faith to realize that we are not struggling alone, but we are laboring with God for the achievement of peace with justice for all the people of our land.
*Our life demands hope. Hope that is not dependent on the ups and downs of the daily changing circumstances. Hope, that is anchored in God, who working in us, will ultimately give us victory over injustice and oppression, and will vindicate truth over falsehood and deceit.
*Our life demands love. Love, not for the gods we create and worship, but the love of the living God; the God who calls us in love to serve one another. Love, especially for our brothers and sisters who are oppressed and suffering from the policies and greed of their fellow human beings, as can be seen in unjust politics and economics.
Amid life’s vexing uncertainties, we come to Christmas seeking refreshment and renewal. There is something about a baby with his mother in a humble setting that stirs within us deep thoughts and feelings of faith, hope, and love. May God’s love and peace shown at Christmas sustain us throughout the coming New Year.
Sabeel wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from your brothers and sisters in Palestine
A God who became so small could only be Mercy and Love. – St. Therese
Dear members and friends of Sicamous United Church,
As the snow gently falls outside my office window, and the hum of the traffic speaks of people on the move… I begin to imagine the movement toward Christmas. Already this morning, I delighted in the purchase of several picture frames which will hold and display treasured moments, and treasured faces – gifts for this coming Christmas.
As well as all the usual preparations, such as gift buying, baking, decorating, and making holiday plans, the church has an intentional four week focus called Advent. A new candle is lit each Sunday, building the light toward Christmas Eve. The term Advent comes via Old English from the Latin adventus (arrival). It is a combination of ad (to) and venire (come). In Advent, we are anticipating the arrival of the baby Jesus, as well as the fullness of God’s reign.
Traditionally, the four Sundays of Advent follow the themes, of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, although… I like to mix it up a bit. I’ve celebrated Elders, Adults, Youth and Children; the peoples from the four directions and four colours of the medicine wheel; the Candles of Creation, John the Baptist, Joseph and Mary. You get the picture! We’re back with the traditional four this year – almost. My former colleague, Jim Hannah recently wrote an Advent liturgy based on Hope, Peace, Justice, and Love, and, for Christmas Eve – Light.
Each week, Jim begins with a quote from a famous person.
Advent 1- the Candle of Hope: “Hope is the dream of a soul awake.” Aristotle
Advent 2 – the Candle of Peace: “When the power of Love overcomes the love of Power, the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendrix
Advent 3 – the Candle of Justice: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Advent 4 – the Candle of Love: “Where there is Love, there is life.” Mahatma Gandhi
Christmas Eve – the Candle of Light: “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” Helen Keller
You of course are welcome to celebrate the Advent and Christmas season in community each Sunday morning at 10:00 AM at Sicamous United Church, but however you celebrate it may you be touched by the One who is Mercy and Love.
Morning Has Broken, I Feel the Winds of God Today. Nope, that’s not a weather report. Just a couple of hymn titles. What’s your favourite hymn? You may have several – I know I do. On Sunday, Nov. 19th worship will be mostly music – we want to know what song rocks your soul, and why it is special to you. You can let us know by phoning the church at 250-836-4390 and leaving a message if no one is available to take your call, or email the church at email@example.com , of fill in the bottom portion of your bulletin next week and give it to Juanita. And of course, come and sing – sing out loud and strong, celebrate the ministry of music.
Why?I want to invite you to be a part of shaping Canada’s next 150 years as years of healing, respecting and celebrating diversity. As a witness to the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as a United Church minister and as a participant in the recent `Together Shuswap’ event at the Splatsin Centre, I took to heart Chief Christian’s invitation to think about what we each can do to help build bridges between communities in the Shuswap.
Here is part of what I said to my congregation in asking for their support in planning and carrying out the event:
“Racism and elitism are on the rise in so many parts of the world. How can we counteract that? What can we do to show that we honour the light in every person, in every race, religion, and gender expression? How can we honour Canada 150 and honour the thousands of years that indigenous peoples have lived in this land?”
Well, one way we can do that is to eat together and celebrate together. We can give thanks for the Indigenous people who helped new-comers survive in this land and we can give thanks for the rich diversity of people who now live here.
So, please come and join in the feast – we encourage everyone to bring a dish of foodto share, from their particular cultural background. Also, offers of entertainment – music, dance, story etc. that reflects your ethnic background is most welcome.Please let us know if you have something to share and we will add you to the entertainment.
You can phone Juanita at 250-832-6385 or Kris at 250-836-2528 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please post and share with anyone you think might be interested.
In light of the ongoing and distressing news constantly coming from the US White House, in light of the violence that killed a young woman protesting the White Supremacists’ rally in Charolettesville, Virginian, I offer this prayer which was forwarded to me by a friend attending Mount Paul United church in Kamloops last Sunday. May it be a source of strength and foster a sense of community.
A Prayer from the Streets of Charlottesville
To the God whom we have forgotten;
To the God who is not male and is not white;
To the God who takes no pleasure in violence;
To the God who is Love;
To the God who is tender-hearted and warm embrace;
To the God who is not deaf to Her children’s cries and is moved to tears by their suffering;
To the God whose law is love of neighbor, hospitality for the stranger, care for the weak;
To the God whose touch is healing, whose gaze is compassion; whose way is lovingkindness;
To the God who is Justice;
To the God who tramples fear and hatred under Her feet;
To the God who convicts our hearts, stirs our spirits, transforms our minds;
To the God who revels in the joyful dance of community and invites us to do the same;
To the God whose own child’s lynched body hung limp on a tree,
not by Her own hand,
but because of the fear and hatred of those human beings
who feared the kind of world they were promised would be ushered in
and hated the changes they would have to undergo to get there;
Our memory is so short:
Our failure to remember the sins of our parents,
Our aversion to repentance,
Our refusal to make reparations,
Is killing us.
Our souls are wasting away.
And black, brown, female, queer, trans, Muslim, differently abled bodies
Every day, so many.
O God whom we have forgotten,
We do not even know how to call on your name.
We have not seen you in the faces of our sisters and brothers.
We have not felt you in the pain of our neighbors, strangers, friends and enemies;
O God whom we have forgotten,
Do not let our imaginations be infiltrated by war-mongering forces of violence.
Do not let our spirits be colonized by the depressing fear of our oppressors.
Transform our minds that do not know how to think of you
existing without these heavy chains we have placed on ourselves
and on each other. Amen.