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News, Links, and Prayers for December 16 to January 1

December 17, 2011

Home for the Holidays
by Jan Richardson

The story of the annunciation to Mary tells us of how, with her own body, Mary makes a home for God. Her own flesh becomes a habitation for the holy. By her assent, her not merely willing but audacious “yes,” Mary sets in motion the actions and others that last week’s reading from Isaiah 61 lists. Liberty, release, healing, an end to oppression: these are the wonders that Mary goes on to sing about in the Magnificat: the actions of a God who brings restoration and redemption to a world that has become deeply disordered.

Gabriel tells Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Overshadow, inhabit, dwell: this is how the Spirit works, seeking to make a home among us. One that is not an exclusive residence or a walled shelter, either; Paul writes of “the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed” (Romans 16:25). It is a spacious home that, like Mary, we are challenged to offer: a dwelling that reveals the presence of God rather than hiding it away.

So how is God seeking to make a home in you in this season? What audacious yes might God be inviting you to offer? In this and every season, may we, like Mary, be a home for the God who desires to dwell with us. (alt.)


There are 11 news items, 11 links, and 5 prayer requests for December 16 to January 1.


November 27 to December 11:

Our Advent Craft and Bake Sale has raised approximately $1,500 towards for Christmas Hampers and Joyce Akello’s medical expenses! Huge thanks to Allison Pierce and all the others who helped make this so successful!

December 11:

Thank you all for making my 50th birthday such a hoot! I’m planning to do something similar for Cyril when he turns 50!

December 17:

Everything’s ready for our Christmas Dinner and Pageant tomorrow. As you can see from the picture above, the Hall looks awesome.

 The tourtierre, salad, and chutney main course, and the fruit and cheese dessert, promise to be delicious.

And our Pageant, with a play by our Sunday School, a story, 4 anthems by our Choir, 6 musical solos, and a number of fun pieces for the whole congregational to sing, promises be an equally rich experience! As I write this there’s still room for around ten more people at the dinner. (Remember, we’re cutting the number off at 110, so please DON’T plan just to turn up, because there may be “no room at the inn”!) Happily, there’s no attendance limit for the Pageant – unless we exceed fire regulations! Remember: the sit-down dinner begins at 5:30 p.m., and the Pageant at around 6:45.

December 18:

This Sunday, December 18, we shall decorate our Christmas Tree with Chrismons (white and gold symbols of Our Lord) between our 8:30 and 10:00 Services. Everyone is invited to make Chrismons to add to our tree. Patterns are available on an Advent Resources card table in the Hall. For more information about Chrismons, please click here, and then type in stpaulscalgary as your email address, and God’s Grace as your password, to access a document entitled “0024. History of Chrismons.”

We’ll share together Holy Eucharist at 8:30; Lessons and Carols at our new building at 10:00 a.m; and the traditional King’s College Chapel Lessons and Carols our Midnapore Chapel at 4:00 p.m. When we say “traditonal” we mean it: this Service has all the prayers from the 2011 King’s College Service, traditional carols from the 1938 Hymn Book, and the King James Version of the Bible for the nine lessons. What a wonderful day it promises to be of singing our praise to our Lord of love!

December 18, 12 noon AND December 21, 10:30 a.m.

On these dates we are concluding our Advent Adult Christian Education Study, “The Journey.” Our last session is in many ways the most special of all, as we look together at the birth of Jesus. It is a wonderful opportunity for everyone, regardless of their attendance at previous sessions, to enhance their Advent and Christmas. This DVD study was filmed on location in the Holy Land. In this session, we shall look, among other things, at the site that since at least as early as the second century Christians have regarded at the spot where our Saviour was born.

The picture below is “Adoration of the Shepherds” painted in 1622 by Dutch painter Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656). It’s one of 6 paintings of the birth of Our Lord that we’ll be looking at in this final session.

A video snippet of this final session to further whet our appetites is embedded below:

December 24 and 25:

On Christmas Eve, we have in store some of the very most precious Services of the entire year.

At 5:00 p.m., we have a Service of Holy Eucharist especially geared for young children and their families. This year I’m going to share with our children the lovely story of ”Little Piccola.”

At 7:30 and 11:00, we shall be sharing Services of Holy Eucharist by candlelight.

And at 10:00 a.m. on Christmas Day (there is no 8:30 Service), we have the opportunity to share Holy Eucharist together on the only Sunday in the Christmas Season (January 1 is Epiphany Sunday).

January 1:

As mentioned above, we shall be observing Epiphany Sunday together on New Year’s Day. There will be only one Service, at 10:00 a.m.

January 7:

At St. Paul’s, at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 7, it will be our great privilege to celebrate the life of our dear brother, Len Mountford.

January 8:

On January 8, we shall be celebrating the Baptism of the Lord. At our 10 a.m. Service, it will be oue joyous privilege to Baptize Riley Gosse at our 10:00 a.m. Service.

January 22:

Our first “Triple C” Service: In 2012, look for 10:00 a.m. Services on the fourth Sundays of the month that are Christ-centred, Creative, and Compact! Please come and “check out” this different experience of worship at St. Paul’s. PLEASE NOTE: Sunday School will be available for our pre-Junior High-aged members.

January 29:

Everyone is invited to our Annual General Meeting of Parishioners at 11:30 a.m. on January 29. Lunch will be provided.


1. – to our website [The most recent additions on our “News and Events” page, in the “Announcements and Newsletters” section, are the December 11 News Bulletin; December/January issue of Living Waters; December and January Calendars; my 2011 Advent Letter; and a document with “Upcoming Special Services and Parish Events” (print copies of the last five are available on the magazine and handout rack or the memorial book table in the Hall).] (Thank you for our website, Paul Bourgeois!);

2. – to the December 14 Diocesan News Service;

3. – to national stories of interest, such as “Christians Urged to Fight Antisemitism” and “Christmas Past and Present;”

4. – to further national stories of interest, such as “Christmas Greetings from Anglican, Lutheran Leaders” (our Primate and the National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada) and “‘People May Die If Nothing is Done’” (about the plight of the people of the Attawapiskat First Nation);

5. and – to pdf and blog formats, respectively, of the social justice newsletter, “Many Hands,” by Deacon Sean Krausert from Canmore (Sean is our guest speaker on November 20 – see above for details);

6. – to Sean’s “That Poverty Project” website and blog, respectively (for a summary of this project, see the July 30 “News, Links, and Prayers” posting); 

7. [then type in as your email address stpaulscalgary, and type in as your password God’s Grace] – to access to the following eleven Advent and Christmas reflections:
– “0026. The Third Week of Advent”
– “0027. Advent 3 Reflection (2011)”
– “0028. Advent Musings 3”
– “0029. The Fourth Week of Advent”
– “0030. Advent 4 Reflection (2011)”
– “0031. Advent Musings 4” 
– “0032. Unwrapping God’s Christmas Gift (2007)”
– “0033. Christmas is for Love (2008)”
– “0034. The Gift of the Magi (Simplified Version)”
– “0035. The Night Before Christmas [by a Soldier] (2009);
– “0036. Bishop’s Christmas Pastoral Letter – 2011”;

8. – to the video embedded below of a song based on a true life incident, with a powerful message, called “Where’s the Line to See Jesus?” by Becky Kelley (Thank you for this, Robbie Coller!);

9. – to the video embedded below, of a video of a young man from Winnipeg named Sean Quigley, singing “Little Drummer Boy” (this has now been viewed by nearly 1.5 million people!);

and on the lighter side …

10. – to the video embedded below, containing a wonderful telling of the Christmas Story by the children of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Auckland, New Zealand that you won’t soon forget! (Thank you for this, Anne Lowry!);

and 11. – to the video embedded below, called “The Digital Story of the Nativity” (Thank you for this, Laura Anne!).

Please keep emailing me stories, videos, and other items to which I can include links in this section, for the uplifting of our Parish family.


This part of the blog is for new prayers or prayer-emphases this week. The complete Prayer List is included on the back cover of the weekly Order of Service. If you are unable to attend on a Sunday, and would like to have these prayers emailed to you, please email Laura Anne at

This next 2 weeks, we especially pray for Our Lord’s healing touch upon Pat Cardwell (who is recovering from a concussion), Elizabeth Clark (Stephanie Evans’ sister), Jim Evans (Bill Hellyer’s friend), Cordi Hare, Elton Hellyer, Kelly and her baby, Dennis Moore, Lynda Mountford, Louise Mullaney, Sheila Orr, Wayne Ponting, Derek Wood, and Marlene Wright.

We pray for the people who are suffering in our own city, our country, and all the world. We pray for the Lord to widen our hearts this Advent Season so that we might be prepared to welcome his coming to us in the form of our neighbour.

We pray for healing for all who are suffering the ravages of violence in Africa and the Middle East, particularly the people of Egypt and Syria as they seek a future of hope, peace, joy, and love.

We pray for wisdom and courage to act for the leaders of Europe, and all the countries of the world as they seek to help facilitate global economic recovery.

And we give thanks especially for the improving health of Elton Hellyer, Lynda Mountford, and Louise Mullaney.

God bless you all this Advent and Christmas, and always.

Your Brother in Jesus,


Mary, Magnifier 
by Jan Richardson

Luke tells us that when Mary finds herself alone in the wake of the archangel Gabriel’s visit, she goes “with haste” to see her kinswoman Elizabeth, who is experiencing a strange pregnancy herself. As soon as she hears Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth lays a mighty blessing on Mary for how she is participating in the work of God, and Mary sings out the Magnificat, a song of praise to God, in response.

I find this scene among the most potent in all of scripture. It epitomizes the power of the act of blessing. With her gesture of grace, Elizabeth the Blesser challenges us toward similar action: to recognize where God is working in the world, and to participate in bringing this work to completion. And for Mary, the massive change within her is linked to a radical transformation beyond her. There is a congruence between what God has stirred within her—in her womb, in her soul—and what God is stirring in the world.

I find myself wondering about that kind of congruence, and how God is calling it forth in my own life. In this Advent season, what’s stirring inside me that connects me with the world around me? What is God seeking to bring forth in my life that enables me to participate in the transformation that God is working in all creation? And how is God challenging me to be both Elizabeth, Blesser, and Mary, Blessed?

[Source: (alt.)]

From → All Posts, Music

  1. Dear Dale, Jenny, and Nikita:

    Wonderful to hear from you! Merry Christmas from all of us at St. Paul’s! And a definite “Amen!” to your words about our unity in the Lord, and about Ingrid!

    God bless you this Christmas, and always.

    With Love from Fergus and Your Brothers and Sisters at St. Paul’s

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Merry Christmas from Durban, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa! It was so good to see my Godchild (Bianca Bolton), my nephew Kai Bolton and photos of Ingrid/Colin (I think!) on line. Made me feel the closeness of a family that cannot be taken away if we unite through God.
    I see no matter where Ingrid is in the world, she makes herself an invaluable member of the Christian society.
    Love you guys!
    Dale Bolton (Jenny and Nikita too!)

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