prepare-the-wayThe story of Christmas is about people finding God in a place where almost no one was looking.

In the time and place of Jesus’ birth, people went to the Temple in Jerusalem to find God. Not only was it the religious centre of society, it was the centre of power and influence as well. They sure didn’t go to Nazareth, Mary’s home town, or to little old Bethlehem to find God. And of course, apart from Mary, Joseph, and Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, no one had even the slightest clue that the child Mary was carrying was the long awaited ‘Emmanuel’, literally ‘God with us’, promised by the prophet Isaiah so many generations before.

The Gospel of John says that with the birth of Jesus God “became flesh to live among us.” This happened, however, when almost no one was looking and in a place where almost no one was looking and so almost no one noticed.

A few people did notice, however, people who were ready to go well out of their way to find God when he came. The Magi noticed, and they were ready to go well out of their way to find ‘Emmanuel’. The gospel of Matthew says that when they finally found him (after a detour to Jerusalem) they were “overwhelmed with joy”. They were glad they had gone out of their way to find Jesus.

And then, of course, there were the shepherds. The shepherds spent their whole lives “out of the way,” and it was while they were literally way out of the way, in the fields with their flocks, that the message of Christ’s birth came to them. Just like the Magi, when the shepherds found Jesus they were overwhelmed with joy.

This is the God whom the season of Advent is meant to prepare us to encounter. He is encountered by those who, like the Magi, make the choice to go out of their way to find him, or like the shepherds are already so out of the way that God chooses to find them. But what might it mean for us to go out of our way to encounter the one whose birth we say we celebrate at Christmas?

The Advent Conspiracy offers four ideas for going out of our usual way to meet Christ at Christmas. They are:
Worship Fully: Because Advent and Christmas begin and end with Jesus
Spend Less:  So we can give more to the things that really matter
Give More: More of Your Presence, More of Your Time, More of Your Heart
Love All: The Poor, The Forgotten, And the Marginalized in Ways That Make a Difference

If you want more specific ideas for how to do these things there are Advent Conspiracy Family Guides available in the foyer of St. Paul’s as well Advent Conspiracy Calendars which are full of great ideas for taking a different approach to Christmas.

There are also activities and events taking place in the parish which can help us go out of our way, at least a little.

advent-1Worship Fully Events:

  • Seniors Advent Service and Dinner: 4-6pm Dec.3th Hampton United Church
  • Community Carol Sing in Support of the Hampton Food Basket 7pm Dec. 4th Hampton United Church
  • Christmas Eve Services: 5:30pm and 10pm St. Paul’s Anglican
  • CHRISTMAS DAY CAROLS & COMMUNION 10am at St. Paul’s –This will include a Children’s Program

advent-2Spend Less Events:

  • The Advent Conspiracy Small Group Series 6:30pm Friday, Dec. 2nd & 9th 58 Kennebecasis River Rd. and at 59 Raymond Street on December 16th Bring the kids!
  • Be part of the St. Paul’s / HUC Santa Clause Parade float Dec.10 Sign-up by calling or emailing the parish office

 

advent-3advent-4Give More & Love All Opportunities:

  • Christmas Donations to the Hampton Food Basket  Let’s full the shelves in the St. Paul’s with love or our neighbours.Non-perishable food of all kinds as well as small gifts in open gift bags well be collected until Sunday December 18th
  • Saint John Mission to Seafarers Small gifts of personal items, toiletries, and warm clothing (hats, mitts etc.) will be collected until Dec. 11th
  • The Hampton Refugee Action Committee Is looking for financial assistance to ensure that the families are we sponsoring are not forced to move into to new accommodations in the middle of the winter and the middle of the children’s school year. Donations can be made through St. Paul’s Church.

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2016 12 04 St Paul’s News