A Message From the Pastor (December 2018 – January – February 2019)
As I now approach my senior years, I realize that it is true… the older you get, the faster the time seems to fly by. The church is already winding down the year with her celebration of Christ the King Sunday (November 25), while the secular world is already busy celebrating the Christmas holiday season. The secular world follows the Gregorian calendar, while the church follows a different one.
The church calendar we Christians observe helps to remind us that although we are in the world, we are not of the world. The church year begins with the season of Advent, a time of preparation and reflection. Advent asks the question of just whose birth are we preparing for? The observance of Advent encourages Christians to see beyond the commercialization of Christmas. By the time Christmas day arrives, the faithful are ready to begin to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas, while the rest of the world is exhausted and stressed out from overspending and partying to excess.
At the end of the Christmas season comes the arrival of the magi. The gospel of Matthew tells of the magi, better known as wisemen, who follow a bright star bringing gifts to a newborn king in Bethlehem. This tradition of bringing gifts to the Christ child can be one of the reasons why gift giving and generosity has become a custom for both Christians and non-Christians alike.
Unfortunately for many faith communities this spirit of generosity does not always continue throughout the rest of the church year. Although they happily accept the generous financial support of their various ministries through good stewardship, which often comes at Christmas, continued support is also needed for the rest of the year.
Everyone is familiar with the custom of passing the offering plate during Sunday worship. This practice will never change. What has changed are the habits of our younger generation. Many young adults rarely carry cash or even write cheques. Regular attendance on Sunday is declining, and yet the church expects a miracle to occur when the offering plate is passed around to young people, who handle their finances electronically. It is time that the church is financially supported.
Now that the holiday season is upon us, and the secular world is more generous and receptive to the need of worthwhile charitable organizations, may our church begin to rethink stewardship. The birth of Jesus, and the bright shining star above Bethlehem, brought the magi bearing gifts. The light continues to shine through all generations. May an epiphany occur in the way our faith communities receive much needed financial support.
As always, may the coming of a new church year bring a new birth to our lives and to our church this Christmas.