If you’re not quite ready to say “good-bye” to the Christmas season, then I’ve got some really good news for you. This Sunday, January 6th is Epiphany, which means Christmas isn’t over yet.
Sometimes known as the “12th day of Christmas” or “Little Christmas” Epiphany is the ancient Christian celebration of the day a group of Magi (a.k.a. wise-men) from the east arrived in Bethlehem to worship the young Messiah Jesus. But of far greater importance than the excuse it gives us to squeeze in a few more Christmas carols and to leave our trees up a few more days is the reminder that Epiphany provides us that Jesus is God’s gift to everybody, regardless of their religious or spiritual background.
The religious background of the Magi was just about as different as you could get from Jesus’ own very Jewish background. For example, the wise-men’s fondness for astrology is explicitly forbidden in the law of Moses and elsewhere in the Old Testament scriptures. And yet, in spite of all of the ways in which their religious views and practices diverged from the very scriptures that foretold the coming of the Messiah, the Magi chose to journey hundreds of miles across deserts and mountains in order to kneel before Jesus and worship him with precious gifts as the true king of God’s people.
Perhaps even more remarkable is the way in which God alerted the Magi of Jesus’ birth and of its significance, and then guided them to his Son to worship him as Messiah. We are going to explore all of this in more detail on Sunday, but what it all points to is the fact that Jesus did not come into the world to be the Messiah of just one particular ethnic group, nor was he born to be the saviour of just one particular religious community. Jesus came as a gift to the whole world and to every single person in it, and whatever their religious or non-religious background might be God is actively drawing everyone to the amazing gift of his Son. All of that and more is what we are going to celebrate this Sunday at St. Paul’s.
On a sadder note, this Sunday will also be St. Paul’s last regular Sunday morning with the Gowan family (Christian, Jessie, Gillian & Elliot).
After more than six years of Christian
Gowan leading our musical worship at the 10:30 service, and Jessie Gowan
contributing to our parish’s ministry to children and youth, the Gowans
are following a call to begin worshiping more regularly a little closer
to home in Quispamsis. Worshiping closer to home will mean that their
children can attend worship with their classmates and that Jessie and
Christian will be able to invite their neighbours to experience
Christian Community right there in their own neighbourhood.
We hope you can join us this Sunday morning following the 10:30am
service as we gather for cake and coffee in honour of the Gowans and as
we let them know just how much we appreciate them and everything that
their family has contributed to the life of St. Paul’s.
What if the Incarnation, the miracle by which the immortal Son of God took on mortal human flesh to become one of us, turned out to be even more miraculous and more powerful than most Christians tend to believe? And what if we could actually experience the wonder and the power of that miracle in our lives today? Guided by pastor, church planter, and ministry leader Hugh Halter through his book ‘Flesh’ we are going to spend the month of November exploring the incredible difference that God becoming flesh in Jesus Christ is meant to make in our lives today.
Hugh Halter’s main observation is that while Jesus’ death and resurrection together form the single most important thing that God has done for us in Jesus, they are NOT the only things that God has done for us in Jesus. In the thirty or so years before Jesus’ death God also showed us, in Jesus, what it looks like to truly live a fully human life, the very same type of life that the gospel tells us Jesus died to give us.
Plenty of people have come to believe in the life-giving power of Christ’s death and resurrection, but too few have chosen to learn from Jesus how to actually live the life he died to give us. Over the month of November, however, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We are going to take the first few steps towards a life-long journey of learning to be human like Jesus.
We strongly encourage everyone who will be tracking with us through this series to find a copy of Hugh Halter’s book ‘Flesh’ and to read it for themselves. And if you’re having a hard time getting a copy, let us know. I’m sure we can find one for you somewhere.
Oct 31st, 5pm
in the St. Paul’s Anglican Church Parking Lot
Trick-or-treating, Parishioners in funny costumes,
cars decorated for Halloween, and so much fun!
For more information or details on how you can help
contact Alice Kennedy at 832-2627.
Sunday, Nov. 11th 4pm-6pm
St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Hampton
This is a child-friendly event for all ages exploring remembrance, peace, and faith through crafts, songs, stories and more.
This event also includes a FREE dinner!
RSVP by Thursday, November 8th to email@example.com
or by calling 832-3375
Planning meeting is scheduled for November 1st at the church at 7pm. Looking for volunteers to help with project stations. Sharon will have the Project Stations ready to go.
I started writing this post just moments after we finished serving our very first pancake lunch of the new school year to more than 140 very grateful Hampton High School students. Every plate of food we dished out was received with an enthusiastic “thank you!” from each and every one of the students. I was struck, today, by how clearly the simple expressions of gratitude from those students in turn fed the enthusiasm and devotion shown by our volunteers. It’s such a clear example of how generosity inspires gratitude and how that gratitude inspires still more generosity, and on and on it goes.
The lunches served out of St. Paul’s every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month to the students of Hampton High School are just one example of the many ways in which our parish continues to be blessed by this cycle of generosity and gratitude. At the heart of it all, however, and what I believe drives it all, is God’s generosity towards each of us.
In my experience, the greatest demonstrations of generosity among Christian people are motivated by a profound sense of gratitude towards God. None of the people that I have known with this sense gratitude has lived a perfect life. In fact, many of them have experienced more than their fair share of suffering. Yet they’ve all come to possess a deep sense that every good thing that has come to them in life has come to them graciously and freely from God. I’ve noticed too that whatever stage of life these grateful and generous people may be in, they all seem to believe that they have only just begun to experience the goodness that God has instore for them, in this life and the next.
In short, the most generous people that I have come to know (those whose generosity has challenged and inspired me the most) have also been the most grateful. They are deeply rooted in the cycle of gratitude and grace. They are generous because they are thankful, and they are thankful because they believe God has given them and has promised them far more than they could have asked for or imagined.
In this season of giving thanks I pray that we would all find ourselves fully surrounded by the cycle of gratitude and grace. I pray that you would know God’s generosity and goodness towards you, and that knowing his goodness you would not only be surrounded but filled with generosity and thanksgiving.
with Children’s Program during the 10:30 am service
One of the great things about radio and podcasts is that you can listen to them and learn about any number of a million different things while at the very same time doing any number of a million other things. For example, as you drive to work in the morning you can turn on the radio and learn about all kinds of things that are happening in your town or around the world, but you can’t drive to work and read the paper. And while it would be extremely awkward to try to exercise or fold the laundry while watching a documentary film or attending a public lecture you can put on a podcast and listen comfortably as you complete any number of your daily tasks.
But there is one thing that we will never be able to do and at the same time still be able to truly listen. We will never be able to speak and listen at the same time.
Not even simultaneous interpreters (you know, the people who translate at super important multilingual events like the United Nations) are able to speak without first listening. It seems like they are speaking and listening at the same time, but really what they have learned to do is to be extra quick to listen, and most of their training is centered not on speaking but on practicing extremely focused listening.
One of the ironies of Christianity is that the most famous Christians tend to be Christian speakers, teachers and preachers. This is ironic because what we see emphasized in the teaching of the New Testament is that the practice of listening should be of far greater value and should be far more celebrated among followers of Jesus than speaking. It’s as we listen to God’s word, to the gospel, to the teachings of Jesus, and to the leading of the Spirit that our lives are transformed and we become more and more like Jesus. Good preaching and teaching are invaluable to the life and mission of the Church, but without good listening (on the part of preachers and teachers in particular) no amount of preaching or teaching will help us. Listening must come first.
I hope you can join us as we gather this Sunday not only to sing God’s praises and to offer our prayers but, first and foremost, to practice listening together, not to the music or even the preacher but to God. And I hope that you will pray for all the preachers and teachers and for the worship leaders who will be preaching and teaching and leading this Sunday. Please pray that as they prepare to preach and to sing and to lead the prayers and to read the scriptures that they would be quick to listen and that they would continue listening so that on Sunday God is the one who is ultimately heard.
As school begins so does our regular routine! Check the Newsletter below for upcoming events happening this fall!