On Sunday, November 17, we gathered for our first Woodroffe Café. I had the opportunity to share pictures and stories from my sabbatical last May. With my husband, Peter, I walked along the Portuguese trail from Northern Portugal to Santiago, Spain. This is a modern rediscovery of the ancient spiritual practice of pilgrimage – a journey on foot and a journey of heart and spirit.
Advent, Christmas and Epiphany are seasons covered with the tracks of pilgrims. Mary walks to her cousin Elizabeth’s home to share the news of her pregnancy. Mary and Joseph trek to Bethlehem to fulfill the Empire’s request, which offers no exemptions to those in a vulnerable state. Magi journey to offer their gifts to One they recognize as a true authority. And there is even a story of the Holy Family forced to flee their own country as refugees to escape King Herod’s cruelty.
Here are some pilgrims' questions that I leave with you to think about or if it helps you, to journal, as we take the Advent Road.
Where were the holy places you visited as a child? Describe the magical, imaginative places where you played. Why were they so special?
List some of the places that you have visited as an adult that helped you to refocus your journey, renew yourself.
Out of your list, choose one place or one trip to a place that changed you. Who was there with you? Who was not there/who do you miss? What details stayed with you? What was the feeling of the place or time? How did the experience change you? What did you learn?
For the last five years I have watched my now 7-year old granddaughter act out the walk to Bethlehem. Taking her grandfather’s hand, a cardboard walking staff, hat and packsack, they would journey together. Always stopping at the “Jordan River” (on our porch) and kneeling down for a refreshing drink of water. That was an important part of their drama.
I hope Advent this year offers you the refreshing moments that every pilgrim needs.
For me, brought up a Presbyterian, John Lennon’s So this is Christmas resonates with the guilt of viewing the crass commercial advertising - seen ever earlier in fall on TV, in catalogues and magazines. For me the antidote is the Christmas concerts and carol sing-alongs.
Many are the beautiful carols written to celebrate the birth of Jesus, from 5th century Of the father’s love begotten, up to the present day. However, Lennon reminds us that as Christians there is a more serious undercurrent - although resolutions to do better are usually associated with New Year.
Advent is certainly a time of joy for many and the spark of anticipation in the children’s eyes on Christmas Eve lights up families. Nonetheless, the many charity appeals, such as for the Ottawa Mission and Philippine’s typhoon, bring some reality to the season and many people in and out of churches work to provide food and succour for the poor at this time. The message in Dickens’s own Christmas Carol certainly reflects this,with the ghosts provoking Scrooge’s guilt.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to all our readers and congregation.
On Sunday mornings, the Church School gathers to worship, learn, grow, and encourage one another. Each week children, youth and adults come together to praise God in song, read and discuss scripture, pray and light our candle, engage in creative hands-on learning activities, and so much more.
This fall, along with our three wonderful Church School teachers, Louise McRae, Rick Maynes, and Ray Cuthbert, we are pleased to have Charlie the Church Mouse with us as part of our team. Charlie regularly participates during our whole group opening time, sharing in our theme-based discussions.
It’s been a busy time in the world of the CE Committee and it looks to continue until Christmas!
At the time of writing, the ever popular 3rd Annual Babies and Friends Luncheon is a week away. This event gives a chance for families with young children to get to know each other better while enjoying some yummy food! As a teacher of the youth class in Church School, I am learning a lot and it is pleasure to work with such great people like Louise McRae, Rick Maynes and Sandra Smith, but even more rewarding is working with the children of all ages! Sandra has written a nice article about the Church School and it includes one of our newer members – Charlie Church Mouse! Beth Junkins is working with the children to create a Junior Church Choir which will be fun to listen to! At the beginning of November, Jan and Matt led a retreat whose theme was about igniting the congregation through practical hospitality. There were over 45 topics discussed and it created a lot of enthusiasm about finding ways to not only reach out to our congregation in events but to reach out into the community with messages like “bring a friend”. I am sure you are looking forwards to the Christmas Pageant – it’s not long now! Paul Hodson has done some great work putting together the next Family Ski Retreat, but I’ll let you read his article elsewhere in the Uniter. Finally, I would like to thank the teachers, the nursery and toddler room volunteers, the members of the CE Committee (Sue Bodkin, Lyle Campbell, Deb Lester, Denise Wai, Sandra Smith and Jan Loughheed) for all their energy and time in making things work! If any of you are interested in helping out let us know!
The scouts have been very busy this fall! We went camping in October and the new scouts learned how to safely use the following camp tools: knives, saws, axes/hatchets, stoves, lanterns, matches and lighting fires. In the meantime the older scouts went on a lightweight camp to a different location! A huge thanks to the 3rd Ottawa Scouts for watching after our older youth!
In November we did a 5-hour geocaching hike following the old train line on the Trans-Canada Trail! Then we had some of the leaders out to Remembrance Day Services at a few churches. On the day itself, we participated in our own little service at the Westboro Cenotaph. It was a great service with a lot of participation from the youth and the speech by our own Frank Sullivan!
In the remainder of 2013, we're preparing for the ever popular Klondike Day, and getting ready to go caroling with the cubs! If you'd like to see the cubs and scouts at your door for caroling, talk to Bob Walkington!
Thanks to Woodroffe United for allowing us to meet in the Scout Hall!!