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Each Sunday we gather together to be inspired by God’s message — through His words, music, and prayer. We hope you find inspiration in our 10:00 am service. Video shared at 2:00 pm.


Sunday, May 19, 2024
Victoria Day – Pentecost Sunday

Message: “Promise Fulfilled” – Rev Jim
Scripture: John 15: 26-27, John 16: 4B- 15

10:00 am – Service
11:00 am – Social time with coffee and tea

2:00 pm – Service Recording [Link]

Previous services can be found on YouTube [Link]


Sunday, May 26, 2024
Trinity Sunday – Pew Communion, Transfer of New Members

Message: “Coming by Night” – Rev Jim
Scripture: John 3: 1-17

11:00 am – Blood Pressure Clinic

7:00 pm – Choir Concert [Link]


Sunday, June 2, 2024
NOTE: Legion Parade/Cenotaph Service –  Lakeshore Road closure

Message: “Go and Lie Down” – Rev Jim
Scripture: 1 Samuel 3: 1-10


Sunday, June 9, 2024
One Year to the 100th Celebration

Message: “Do not Lose Heart” – Rev Jim
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4: 13- 5:1


Sunday, June 16, 2024
Christian Family Sunday – Grade 3 Bibles- Father’s Day

Message: “What type of Confidence” – Rev Jim
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5: 6-10, 14-17

11:00am – Ice Cream Sundaes


Sunday, June 23, 2024
️‍ Pride Service

Message: “No Obstacle” – Rev Jim
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6: 1-13


Sunday, June 30, 2024
Canada Day Service

Message: “Touching Base” – Rev. Jim
Scripture: Mark 5: 21-43

2020 Advent Devotional – Day 28

Gift

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Words by Charles Wesley; adapted by George Whitefield and others

“Born to raise us from the earth,
Born to give us second birth.”

Video: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing


Reflection

With the anticipation and merry chaos of Christmas Day behind us – or maybe this year, the strange solitude or peaceful empty – let’s find a moment to reflect on the gift we have received. Just as children are perhaps encouraged to appreciate their presents after the wrapping paper has been torn away and discarded, so we are encouraged to take our time savouring the gift of Christmas.

The exuberant power of our final carol is a majestic tribute to all we have received, and all that the Christmas gift of Jesus Christ has to offer. Peace and joy, light and life, healing and comfort – the abundant magnificence of God’s gifts to us pour out through the lyrics, almost too plentiful to keep up with.

The reassuring wonder of God’s sweeping generosity – more than any individual gift – is that through God’s love we have exactly what we each need: the presence of God in our world, “pleased with us in flesh to dwell,” accompanying us on our journey through life. Present with us when our lives soar with delight and success; abiding with us when our lives crave healing and our hearts hunger for peace. Throughout it all, always providing the guiding light to call us onwards to life in Christ.

And most important of all is the gift we need more than any other: the “mercy mild” from the first verse. The phrase is tucked away somewhat, especially compared to the vibrant sounds of the angels. Unassuming and gentle, the mercy of our caring and forgiving God, who sees us striving and failing; who is there when we fall, reaching out to help us rise up, supporting us, even carrying us on.

As we turn from Advent to the New Year, may our Christmas prayer be to appreciate this glorious gift and share it with those around us.


Generous God,
Kindle within me recognition and gratitude for all you bless me with and for the love you share with the world. As you give me what I need, help me understand and acknowledge the needs of others. As you shine your abundant mercy into my life, renew me to greet others with your same mercy and acceptance. Abide with me Lord, through all my days, that I might always reach out for your eternal love. Amen.


Reading

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise;
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Refrain:
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel. [Refrain]

Hail the heav’nborn Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Ris’n with healing in his wings.
Mild, he lays his glory by,
Born that we no more may die,
Born to raise us from the earth,
Born to give us second birth. [Refrain]


If you’re enjoying the carols each day, there’s now a YouTube playlist you can listen to that contains all the carols shared so far. The playlist will grow as the devotional series progresses, with each day’s carol being added. By Christmas Day, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack of worship and praise.  Click here to listen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.


 

2020 Advent Devotional – Day 27

Adore

O Come, All Ye Faithful
Latin, c. 18th century; translator: Frederick Oakeley

“O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!”

Video: O Come, All Ye Faithful


Reflection

If throughout these reflections you’ve been humming along to some of the more familiar carols, maybe joining in with the occasional refrain, today is the day to leave any such hesitancy behind and throw yourself into the glory of this piece. Crank up the volume, grab the words (below), and join in the congregational singing of this magnificent hymn.

As the lyrics encourage us: sing in exultation. Fill your lungs and sing. Sing until the music and the joy reach every fibre of your being. Sing loudly and triumphantly until you can’t keep the smile from your face, such is the delight of the gift of God’s love that we celebrate today.

Accept the call to greet God in this moment. For this is an all-encompassing, all-embracing invitation to praise and worship God. Everyone is welcome and we are each included in this joyful moment of adoration. As the voices of the choir soar, let any reluctance be swept away by the glory of the music and open your heart to God’s presence.

Accept the call to adore God, in wonder and awe. To pause perhaps in the silence as the organ’s majestic chords fade away, and to affirm the immensity of God’s love that we especially celebrate today. This is the God of light and hope and life, given to us to renew us and transform us. This is the God who waits to meet us, exactly where we are, and to heal us.

From the angels and citizens of heaven, to the faithful here on earth, all of us have the gift of our adoration to offer to God. A gift that God seeks out and treasures and celebrates himself, in joy and triumphant delight. Come! Witness the glory of God’s love, today and every day. Let us adore him. Hallelujah.


Everlasting God,
Eternal light of the world, source of hope and joy and peace. Thank you for the life of Jesus that affirms your love for me and your presence in this world. Thank you for the light of Jesus that supports me each day. Guide me to live according to your way. Sustain me with the assurance of your care for me. Renew me in faith and forgiveness that in all things, I may proclaim your everlasting love. Amen.


Reading

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
come and behold him born the King of angels;

Refrain:
O come, let us adore him; O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

God of God, Light of Light;
lo, he abhors not the virgin’s womb;
very God, begotten not created; [Refrain]

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heav’n above;
glory to God, all glory in the highest; [Refrain]

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning:
Jesus, to thee be all glory giv’n;
Word of the Father, late in flesh appearing; [Refrain]


If you’re enjoying the carols each day, there’s now a YouTube playlist you can listen to that contains all the carols shared so far. The playlist will grow as the devotional series progresses, with each day’s carol being added. By Christmas Day, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack of worship and praise.  Click here to listen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.


 

2020 Advent Devotional – Day 26

Light

John 1: 1–14

In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)

Video: John 1: 1–14


Reflection

John’s words, in the well-known if somewhat esoteric introduction to his gospel, encapsulate not only the essence of yesterday’s carol, but the spirit of so many of the readings and carols we have enjoyed this Advent. Jesus has come into the world bringing life and light.

And for those struggling to come to terms with, or be at peace with, our lives this year, light is perhaps the greatest gift we could wish for. For in the light of Christ, we have all that we need.

Like the light of a beacon, we have the direction and guidance of Jesus’ teaching to lead us safely into a new year. As Jesus did, we are inspired to welcome, include and forgive generously; to nurture our relationships and care for our world.

Like the light of a fire, we have the comfort and warmth of Jesus’ ministry to reassure us and bring us peace. Jesus, who calmed the storm on Lake Galilee and cast out unclean spirits, knows what it is to struggle. Through Jesus we have God’s presence in our lives to soothe and sustain us in times of pain and fear.

Like the light of the sun, we have the life-giving energy of God’s love to strengthen and renew our hearts with hope. With Jesus we are reminded that we are never alone, for he is with us always. In Jesus, we have the promise of God in our lives, awakening us to the possibility in each new day.

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, so too we celebrate the life that Jesus went on to have. A life of reaching out to comfort and care for humankind. A life of understanding and acceptance. A life that reminds us that we are children of God and always loved.


Everlasting God,
Eternal light of the world, source of hope and joy and peace. Thank you for the life of Jesus that affirms your love for me and your presence in this world. Thank you for the light of Jesus that supports me each day. Guide me to live according to your way. Sustain me with the assurance of your care for me. Renew me in faith and forgiveness that in all things, I may proclaim your everlasting love. Amen.


Reading

John 1: 1–14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


If you’re enjoying the carols each day, there’s now a YouTube playlist you can listen to that contains all the carols shared so far. The playlist will grow as the devotional series progresses, with each day’s carol being added. By Christmas Day, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack of worship and praise.  Click here to listen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.


 

2020 Advent Devotional – Day 25

Life

Sussex Carol
Attributed to Bishop Luke Wadding, 1684
This version collected and documented by Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1904

“When sin departs before His grace,
then life and health come in its place;”

Video: Sussex Carol


Reflection

Unlike many of the carols in this series, the name of this carol – the Sussex Carol – has no connection with the lyrics that follow. Instead, the title refers to where the carol was found: in the aptly named Monks Gate, near Horsham, in West Sussex in the United Kingdom. There, it had been sung to the composer and Christmas carol enthusiast, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Vaughan Williams, along with Cecil Sharp, had noticed the decline in traditional folk music, as the practice of sharing such music orally was replaced by the growth of printed music. In an effort to uncover and preserve this musical tradition, Vaughan Williams travelled throughout Britain, ‘collecting’ folk songs and carols from local singers so that they could be documented and preserved.

It is fitting then, that a carol rescued from extinction itself, should sing so joyfully of life. The melody alone is uplifting, as the lyrics invite us to celebrate the transforming love of the birth of Jesus. This is life made new, where the sadness of sin and a life lived apart from God are wiped away by the eternal forgiveness given to us through Jesus.

Life and health may seem unusual, even unrealistic, blessings to be promised through Jesus’ birth, particularly this year when the world has been engulfed by death and illness. How do we reconcile these words with our daily reality, without dismissing them as trite or an empty cliché?

And yet this is the overwhelming promise of God’s love; that even as darkness smothers our days, we have the promise of life in Jesus. That when we feel trapped by illness or grief, God promises to be with us, to soothe and comfort our pain, to sustain us in each new day. God’s healing love, seen in the life of Jesus, gives us strength to draw on and hope to pray in. Truly, God is always with us.


Transforming God,
You take my life, weighed down with all that would separate me from you, and you restore it with your love. Though I have times when illness and sadness make my heart heavy, you are always present for me to lean on and cry out to. Let the joy of your love comfort my soul and bring me peace. Let the hope I have through your love renew me for each day and for every challenge I face. Amen.


Reading

Sussex Carol

On Christmas night all Christians sing
to hear the news the angels bring;
on Christmas night all Christians sing
to hear the news the angels bring:
news of great joy, news of great mirth,
news of our merciful King’s birth.

Then why should we on earth be sad,
since our Redeemer made us glad?
Then why should we on earth be sad,
since our Redeemer made us glad,
when from our sin He set us free,
all for to gain our liberty?

When sin departs before His grace,
then life and health come in its place;
when sin departs before His grace,
then life and health come in its place;
angels and men with joy may sing,
all for to see the newborn King.

All out of darkness we have light,
which made the angels sing this night;
all out of darkness we have light,
which made the angels sing this night:
“Glory to God and peace to men,
now and forevermore. Amen.”


If you’re enjoying the carols each day, there’s now a YouTube playlist you can listen to that contains all the carols shared so far. The playlist will grow as the devotional series progresses, with each day’s carol being added. By Christmas Day, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack of worship and praise.  Click here to listen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.


 

2020 Advent Devotional – Day 24

Sing

I Saw Three Ships
Traditional English carol, 17th century, published c. 1833

“And all the souls on Earth shall sing”

Video: I Saw Three Ships


Reflection

This popular carol has emerged from a long and meandering folk tradition, being found in different parts of England and Scotland with different lyrics, until the version we sing today was published in 1833. As the lyrics changed so too did the occupants of the ships. Joseph and Mary appear in one version, where “he did whistle and she did sing,” along with St Michael and St John in places. St Michael is even put to work steering the boat.

None of this, of course, explains why the ships are even sailing into Bethlehem, which if you look at a map is landlocked. Equally incongruous is the idea of Mary being on the boat, arriving in Bethlehem just in time to give birth, let alone Jesus himself. And many over the years have also been quick to point out that two people don’t usually need three boats.

In further attempts to explain the carol, it has been associated with the three ships that carried the relics of the magi from the Middle East to Cologne, Germany, in the twelfth century. Or perhaps the three ships are in fact a reference to the camels – the “ships of the desert” – used by the magi on their journey.

What is unmistakable is the sense of joy that the carol evokes, and indeed the call to be joyful that the carol declares. As bells ring out across the world, and angels sing in heaven, we are also called to sing and rejoice. The repeating lyrics of this carol make it easy and remind us that praising God doesn’t need to be complicated or lengthy or solemn. It doesn’t need a special place or time; right now is perfect. It’s as simple as singing a carol and letting yourself smile and your heart lighten.


Uplifting God,
Be in my heart today and help me feel the joy and delight of your love for me. Let my soul sing with gratitude and thanksgiving at the gift of your son, Jesus Christ. Prompt me to find a moment today to let go of any anxieties, and to give myself over to the joy of praising you. May my voice rise to proclaim your glory and the joy of your love. Amen.


Reading

I Saw Three Ships

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And who was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
And who was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

Our Saviour Christ and his lady,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Our Saviour Christ and his lady,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Pray whither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
Pray whither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the bells on Earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the bells on Earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the souls on Earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the souls on Earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Then let us all rejoice again
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Then let us all rejoice again
On Christmas Day in the morning.


If you’re enjoying the carols each day, there’s now a YouTube playlist you can listen to that contains all the carols shared so far. The playlist will grow as the devotional series progresses, with each day’s carol being added. By Christmas Day, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack of worship and praise.  Click here to listen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.


 

2020 Advent Devotional – Day 23

Worship

Matthew 2: 1–12

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. (Matthew 2:10-11a)

Video: Matthew 2: 1–12


Reflection

We can all likely recall the feeling of relief that comes as you reach the end of a long journey. Perhaps it’s associated with the ache of stretching your legs as you unfold yourself from the car, or the invigorating first breath of outdoor air when you emerge from an airport. We’re here – the travelling, the limbo, the waiting is over.

Of course, the longer the journey, the greater the relief, and so the feelings that overcame the wise men when they saw that the star had stopped must have been immense. Not just the completion of their journey but fulfilment too. Confirmation that their uncertain venturing into the unknown had a destination, and that they had reached it.

No wonder they were overjoyed. The weariness of the days and nights of travelling were at an end. The doubt and anxiety that their unsuccessful foray into Jerusalem must have provoked could be put to rest. They were here. All that mattered now was the present moment and the king they had come to see.

“And they bowed down and worshipped him.” The simplicity of the phrase belies not just the incongruity of a caravan of adults prostrate before a young child, but also the depth of what that moment meant. In their joy at arriving, and through this physical act of veneration, the magi dedicate their journey to God’s purpose in the world and honour him with their commitment and faith.

The magi’s worship then can be used as a model for our lives. As we worship God in our services and songs, can we leave behind our weariness and anxiety and centre ourselves in the present moment to bring our whole selves to honour God. As we worship God in our service and our lives, can we dedicate our journey in the world to God’s purpose, living and worshipping with commitment and faith.


Compelling God,
You lead me forward each day, guiding me with your word. You encourage me onwards each day, strengthening me with your love. You watch over me each day, comforting me with your peace. Thank you for the purpose your love brings to my life. Pull me closer to you and renew my commitment to your way. Help me to see on my journey opportunities to reach out in love and faith. Amen.


Reading

Matthew 2: 1–12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.


If you’re enjoying the carols each day, there’s now a YouTube playlist you can listen to that contains all the carols shared so far. The playlist will grow as the devotional series progresses, with each day’s carol being added. By Christmas Day, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack of worship and praise.  Click here to listen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.


 

2020 Advent Devotional – Day 22

Joy

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
Traditional English carol, 16th century, published c. 1760

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy

Video: God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen


Reflection

This is one of those well-loved carols where we enthusiastically launch into singing the first line, until our voices trail off as we realize just how few of the words we actually know – before returning with gusto for the joyous refrain, “O tidings of comfort and joy!”

It is also a carol where modern punctuation can easily distort the meaning. The comma in the first line follows the word ‘merry’ rather than preceding it. So this is not, contrary to much wishful thinking, a carol exhorting all the “merry gentlemen” to have a rest! Instead, and according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase “God rest you merry” – as it would have been used in the 16th and 17th centuries – means, “May God grant you peace and happiness.”

Peace and happiness, comfort and joy – these phrases represent the essence perhaps of our Christmas wish, and equally the heart of the angel’s message to the shepherds. And this synergy is significant for our Advent worship. The angel’s message to the shepherds, proclaiming “great joy for all the people,” and bestowing “peace to those on whom his favor rests” are gifts from God. Peace and happiness, comfort and joy – these things are God’s desire for us; exactly how God wants us to live.

What more encouragement do we need, then, to seek them out? To begin each day and recommit to finding and creating peace in our communities? To recognizing in every person we encounter, the love of God that provides acceptance and brings joy? For what greater joy is there, than the knowledge that we are each a child of God.

Comfort and joy are not just sentimental Christmas lyrics; they are God’s gift to us year-round. And more, they are God’s calling to us, to be created in and shared from our lives.


Comforting God,
Your love brings me deep joy. The comfort of knowing I am always loved and cared for by you; the peace of knowing you listen to me when I pray; the joy of knowing you are present in my life and in the world. Encourage me to recognize these gifts in my daily life. Inspire me to proclaim these gifts of your love through my life and share your love with those around me. Amen.


Reading

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen 

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
let nothing you dismay,
remember Christ our Savior
was born on Christmas day,
to save us all from Satan’s pow’r
when we were gone astray; 

 Refrain:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy. 

 From God our heav’nly Father,
a blessed angel came;
and unto certain shepherds
brought tidings of the same:
how that in Bethlehem was born
the son of God by name, [Refrain] 

 “Fear not, then,” said the angel,
“let nothing you affright;
this day is born a Savior
of a pure virgin bright,
to free all those who trust in him
from Satan’s pow’r and might.” [Refrain] 

 Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
Shall fill our hearts with grace [Refrain] 

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
let nothing you dismay,
remember Christ our Savior
was born on Christmas day,
to save us all from Satan’s pow’r
when we were gone astray;

Refrain:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

From God our heav’nly Father,
a blessed angel came;
and unto certain shepherds
brought tidings of the same:
how that in Bethlehem was born
the son of God by name, [Refrain]

“Fear not, then,” said the angel,
“let nothing you affright;
this day is born a Savior
of a pure virgin bright,
to free all those who trust in him
from Satan’s pow’r and might.” [Refrain]

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
Shall fill our hearts with grace [Refrain]


If you’re enjoying the carols each day, there’s now a YouTube playlist you can listen to that contains all the carols shared so far. The playlist will grow as the devotional series progresses, with each day’s carol being added. By Christmas Day, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack of worship and praise.  Click here to listen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.


 

2020 Advent Devotional – Day 21

Rise

Rise Up Shepherd and Follow
Traditional spiritual, 19th century

“You’ll forget your flocks, you’ll forget your herds;
Rise up, shepherd and follow.”

Video: Rise Up Shepherd and Follow


Reflection

Christmas carols sometimes take liberties with the Nativity accounts from Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels, freely blending events or switching characters. This 19th century spiritual follows that practice and has the shepherds following both the Star of Bethlehem, as well as the angel’s words.

In both cases, the sense of energy and action is pressing and compels the shepherds to follow God’s signs to Jesus. But not only “follow” – the shepherds must first rise up. From a practical perspective, of course, this fits the narrative. It is easy to imagine the terrified shepherds, terrified by the angel, having fallen to the ground (and indeed much biblical art depicts them in this way).

But more significantly, the shepherds have to rise up because if they are going to follow Jesus, there is much that would otherwise pull them down and hold them back. In the case of the shepherds, this constraint is their sheep – the flocks and herds that keep them out in the fields, demanding their energy and attention.

Have the sheep pastures for grazing, have any strayed away from the flock, are there wolves or thieves lurking nearby? These are the burdens that would distract and delay and dissuade.

The burdens that pull us down are just as demanding, and our energy is easily consumed by our everyday concerns. Perhaps we justify such matters as important or tell ourselves they’re temporary. Regardless, as the carol encourages us, we are called to rise above these issues and follow God.

And when we rise up and put our focus on Jesus, we can give our troubles and concerns to God, letting God’s love pull us up. We can rise above the challenges of our lives and follow the love of God. Reaching up for that love – and being lifted up by that love – will bring us God’s strength and support to face each day.


Encouraging God,
When the troubles of the world overwhelm me and the concerns in my life weigh me down, you are always there to lift me up. Your love embraces me, to comfort me and bring me peace. Your love inspires me, to nourish me and give me strength. Guide me always to reach out for your love and sustain me through my faith. Amen.


Reading

Rise Up Shepherd and Follow

There’s a star in the East on Christmas morn;
Rise up, shepherd, and follow;
It will lead to the place where the Christ was born;
Rise up, shepherd and follow.

Refrain:
Follow, follow;
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
Follow the Star of Bethlehem;
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.

If you take good heed to the angel’s words;
Rise up, shepherd, and follow;
You’ll forget your flocks, you’ll forget your herds;
Rise up, shepherd and follow. [Refrain]

Leave your sheep, leave your sheep, and leave your lambs;
Rise up, shepherd, and follow;
Leave your ewes and your rams, leave your ewes and rams;
Rise up, shepherd and follow. [Refrain]


If you’re enjoying the carols each day, there’s now a YouTube playlist you can listen to that contains all the carols shared so far. The playlist will grow as the devotional series progresses, with each day’s carol being added. By Christmas Day, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack of worship and praise.  Click here to listen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.


 

2020 Advent Devotional – Day 20

Sign

Luke 2: 8–16

“This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)

Video: Luke 2: 8–16


Reflection

From the outset of Luke’s Gospel, Luke emphasises the certainty of the good news he wants to record and proclaim. He takes his reader back to the beginning of the life of Jesus so that the presence of God in the world can be emphasized and revealed.

At every turn of events, then, Luke highlights the signs God gives to those who are involved in this miraculous birth, to ensure they clearly see and understand God’s presence. The shepherds in today’s reading are no exception. They are called to be witnesses to the birth of Jesus and, to ensure this takes place, a company of angels are sent to deliver the news.

The message for the shepherds is unambiguous. A Savior has been born and the shepherds are invited to attend and proclaim this event of great joy. In case there was any doubt – of where the baby was, or indeed of their invitation to be present – the angel gives them a sign.

With certainty, then, the shepherds welcomed the birth of Jesus and gave thanks for God’s love in the world. And while it is easy for us to wish for similar clarity – angels heralding the way to go – such a view overlooks the stated purpose of Luke’s account. Because Luke’s gospel was intended to be such a sign, and remains so for us as much as for the first readers of these words.

These words, handed down over the centuries, are a confirmation of the first witnesses of God’s love in the world, and a sign to us of God’s eternal promise to always love and be present in the world. The journey through Advent, then, encourages us to pause and remember the signs along the way, and to proclaim in our lives the good news and great joy of Jesus’ birth.


Ever-present God,
Forgive me when I overlook the eternal sign of your love through your word. Forgive me when I neglect the ongoing signs of your presence in our world. Encourage me to seek out your love in surprising places, and to recognize your love for all your children. Inspire me to be a beacon of your love and let my life be a sign for others of the power of faith in your word. Amen.


Reading

Luke 2: 8–16

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.


If you’re enjoying the carols each day, there’s now a YouTube playlist you can listen to that contains all the carols shared so far. The playlist will grow as the devotional series progresses, with each day’s carol being added. By Christmas Day, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack of worship and praise.  Click here to listen.


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.