Tag Archives: Christmas

Marshmallow Creations from Christmas Banquet 2015

We had our annual Christmas Banquet Dec 5 and the Social Committee asked each table to make a Christmas-themed creation from marshmallows and toothpicks. Here are some of our creations:

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It’s The Most Loneliest Time of the Year

Our family has a pretty regimented Christmas routine: we make some hot apple cider, put on some Christmas music by Loreena McKennitt and Sting, decorate the tree, and then follow everything up with Swiss Chalet festive specials and a viewing of the film A Christmas Story.

The repetition of this tradition helps our family to remember that we have one another; and that God has given us what we need and enjoy together as a family.

One Christmas in particular though, we invited a friend of ours to join us for this annual tradition. We’ll call him Carter. Carter was quite regularly homeless and transient. One year, he found himself moving between 3 different Canadian cities all within the course of a year. Carter had a hard time holding down housing and was constantly unemployed due to various mental health and poverty issues that he constantly faced.

When Carter showed up at our door, he brought gifts: a photography magazine for Michele (my wife loves photography), some toy cars for our children, and some tea for us to enjoy. Needless to say, Carter didn’t have a huge income, and the fact he thought to bring Christmas gifts was amazing. I was instantly reminded of the widow who gave her last two pennies to the Temple in Mark 12: 41-44. Sometimes, those of us who have less give the most generously.

As I drove Carter home after all of the festivities, he said to me, “I’ve lived in this city for 3 years, and no one has ever invited me into their home.”

Just when you think Christmas is the happiest time of the year for our culture, for many people, it will be the loneliest. A recent article in Psychology Today gives 5 main reasons why people will often be depressed at Christmas time:

  1. The excessive commercialization of Christmas
  2. Excessive self-reflection and rumination about the inadequacies of life
  3. The pressure to spend a lot of money on gifts and incur increasing debt
  4. The expectation for social gatherings with family, friends and acquaintances that they’d rather not spend time with
  5. The loss of loved ones or jobs

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201011/why-people-get-depressed-christmas

For Michele and I, our hope was that a simple act of hospitality might help make a difference for even just one person at the most loneliest time of the year. We had been given much. What could we now give?

The trick however was that this wasn’t just a gift for Carter. We, as a family, also needed to see a renewed sense of significance and joy to Christmas. What was Christmas for exactly?

In Carter’s loneliness, we saw the reflection of our own loneliness that we hide with material goods and money. And for that Christmas, we were several lonely people who came together to remember that we have one another; and that God has given us what we need and enjoy together as a family.

Who might you extend hospitality to this Christmas? Who is that person in your life who could use some good news? What’s that Christmas tradition you enjoy each year that for just once you might include someone else? You might be surprised at the gift you receive in doing so.

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An unsettled Christmas

This was an unsettled Christmas.  It was December 17th.  We were all getting ready for Christmas, going to Christmas programs, enjoying Christmas banquests, doing Christmas shopping when we listened to the news.  Maybe you heard it on the radio, or on TV, or someone told you.  A man had walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  By the end 27 people were killed, 20 of them small children.

For the next week you couldn’t turn on the TV or open the newspaper without hearing details about the massacre.  Pictures of the children, newsclips of parents of the murdered, speculations about why Adam Lanza had done this crime.  Everyone was talking about this, everyone was shaken.

It was jarring to look at the Christmas tree, seeing children doing a Christmas program, while thinking of the horror that happened. How did that shooting affect you?

This Sunday we are going to be talking about the “Slaughter of the Innocents”; the children that Herod murdered when he was trying to kill Jesus.  The writer of the gospel of Matthew puts this story right next to the story of Jesus’ birth.  Birth and murder in one breath.  Why?

Come to church, and we’ll think about this together, and what this means for our church and our world today.

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What do you get someone who has everything?

It never occurred to me till this year
to put God on my Christmas list.
Heaven knows, I’ve been on the receiving end
too many times to count,
with a God whose giving knows no ending.
Maybe God would like a gift,
for a change.
What do you get Someone who has everything?
Slippers?  Does one size truly fit all?
A book?  What hasn’t God read yet?
An ipad?  Are there apps made in heaven?
Can everyone really use socks?
Tickets to a show…theatre?  sports?
Is God hopeful enough to be a Maple Leafs fan?
Maybe I should get God something more personal.
A home-made gift perhaps,
like a coupon book.
What God might really like
is a coupon that says,
“One minute of world peace”.
I wish we could send messengers to God,
holy angels singing,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will from all people.”
This Christmas, a present for God
seems out of reach.

If I can’t get a present,
maybe I can be a present,
by being present for God.
This minute, this hour as my present.
I will completely turn my attention to God;
tuning in instead of tuning out,
deciding to be an active listener.
I will take the Bible at its word
and believe that God wants to hear from me.
I will present my requests to God
humbly, gratefully, honestly.
It`s not wrapped in shiny paper,
it`s not a perfect gift for the Father of Lights;
but I will try to be a cheerful giver.
Here`s hoping that God will say,
“This is just what I’ve always wanted!”

 Carol Penner

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