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Advent Christmas Letter from Rev. Carla

November 27, 2011

2013 Advent Letter from Rev. Carla

When they heard the King, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was,.   When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.      Matthew 2:9-10 NRSV

Dear St. Paul’s Friends

 A few nights ago I found myself outside quite late with my dogs. I stood there bundled up, shivering and wishing that they would hurry up so I could go back inside and warm myself by the fire. As I turned to start making my way back up the lane way I looked up and stopped. There above my head the Milky Way was stretched across the inky black sky. I found that I could not look away. There was the Big Dipper now standing on its handle in the Northern sky. There in the Eastern sky were the three stars that make up the Belt of Orion.  As I stood in the chilly night air I took a deep breath and that was when my eyes alighted on a very bright twinkling star. In the dark with my face turned toward the stars I thought of the story of the Wise Men, traveling from the East and following the star in the night sky. The story doesn’t say much about them but they would have been the astronomers, the scientists, the mathematicians of the first century C.E. They would have been learned men with their own set of beliefs, but still they saw something in the sky that compelled them to make a dangerous and costly journey to find what the blazing star pointed toward. What a story of adventure. For us the journey of Advent also can become one of Advent-ure. We can seek that which is guiding us in our lives and either choose to continue following it or seek something that is more fulfilling, more lasting and more restful for the soul. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.” I have always loved that quote because it reminds us that we are more than blood and bone, we are spirit and if spirit, we are connected in more ways than physical objects could ever be. So with that in mind, may you seek Advent-ure this season. Be Advent-urous in your seeking and never forget that God is with you on this Holy Advent-ure.

 May God Bless you and keep you this Holy Season,

 Rev. Carla Van Delen


2011 Advent Letter from Rev. Carla

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon
his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

-Isaiah 9:6 NRSV

As I type this letter to you, Eastern Ontario has just experienced its first major snow fall of the year. The roads are quiet, the squirrels seem to have taken a break from their frantic search for anything edible and the grass and leaves that had not been raked up, are now covered with a blanket of clean, blemish free snow. Back in my retail days this was the kind of weather we prayed for. Snow meant shoppers were put in the festive mood. Snow meant the corridors of the malls would be filled with bustling people with list in hand, hurrying on to the next item on their list. But as I ponder what Advent means for me this year, I wonder how I will keep the season in my spirit. Will I read a book, listen to music, or bake some cookies? But packed around these activities there will be also be professional and personal lists of things to do in the coming weeks. I have to confess that it will not be easy to keep the Christ child in front of me at all times.

Perhaps with all the meals that need to be prepared, the cards addressed, and stamps licked, the best thing that we can do is to take some time each day to remember why we mark Christmas the way we do. It’s not because the empire of commercialism says so, not because our parents did it and we should too, not because everyone else is doing it, but because the deeper meaning of love, sharing and celebrating is what is at the heart of the Christmas story. The baby born thousands of years ago symbolized that God had entered into this world in a very different way. The way of Jesus would be of joy, love, sharing and celebrating. Jesus’ Way is one of hope and freedom. So maybe this year, as we go about our traditions, and our customs that we have always done, perhaps we could remember that Jesus is celebrating with us and that Jesus is the honoured guest at our feast. That the reason why we share with others at this time of year, perhaps more than at any other, is that God shared the ultimate gift with us, Himself. Surely that is reason enough to celebrate.

May the wonder of the shepherds,
the generosity of the wise men
and the compassion of Mary,
be in us and flow from us,
this Christmas and always.

Rev. Carla Van Delen
St. Paul’s United Church, Richmond, Ontario

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