I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights like Heaven's stars reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away the tear
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring
For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me. I see the pain inside your heart,
But I am not so far away. We really aren't apart.
So, be happy for me, dear ones. You know I hold you dear,
And be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I send you each a special gift from my heavenly home above.
I send you each a memory of my undying love.
After all, love is the gift more precious than pure gold.
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.
Please love and keep each other as my Father said to do
For I can't count the blessings of love He has for each of you.
So, have a Merry Christmas, and wipe away that tear.
Remember, I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
- Submitted by Peter L. Dedicated to Jackie H.
Jackie was one of a group of my friends from university days (1970's) at U of Waterloo, who have kept in touch over the years. I have fond memories of many years of golf tournaments, ball hockey tournaments, baseball tournaments, cross-country ski loppets, etc. followed by meals and comradery with these former classmates. All except I, were in the Recreation Program of study at university, which is why there was always a focus on sport in our subsequent "get-togethers". I was an "adopted Mathie/Accountant" who loved sport and knew one of the Rec students from our high school days.
Jackie battled Diabetes for years, but about 6-7 years ago faced her first of 4-5 surgeries which amputated progressive portions of both her feet and legs. In 2015, I requested a Prayer Blanket for Jackie from Jan Cressman-Weiss and her knitting team. And on Sept 27 of that year, we blessed a blanket for Jackie...see picture below. We delivered the blanket to Jackie and she displayed it proudly on her couch in her living room.
Jackie dealt with wheel chairs and prosthetic legs (and the necessary training in their use), ramps and various modifications to her home in Paris, ON. She and her sister even acquired a van adapted for wheel chair transportation. Our group from university days, would make periodic visits (those living closer, more frequently), while emails and phone calls were more frequent. Jackie coped with all of this, demonstrating great courage and an unbelievably positive spirit.
By Christmas 2017 Jackie was travelling regularly to Hamilton for kidney dialysis. She was told she needed a new kidney, but would never get one, because of her prior health issues. In addition, she was informed that she would need further amputation surgery. It became quite clear to doctors and Jackie and her family, that the end was nigh. It was simply a matter of how long Jackie wanted to attempt to defer the inevitable. Exhausted, she requested that there be no more surgeries and that doctors simply try to minimize the pain which she endured constantly. And so, Jackie faced the end bravely and with the same courage she demonstrated battling the effects of Diabetes.
I am proud to have known Jackie and to be able to call her a friend. May she rest in peace!
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. Psalm 132:9
The church year is coming to a close, winter is approaching, and it’s All Saints Sunday. A reminder of death. A glimpse into new life. Each year we celebrate All Saints Sunday where we remember those who have passed away over the last year as well as any faithful people in our lives that we have lost.
This past Sunday during our conversation about the Apostles Creed we had a question or two about the phrase “The communion of saints”.
It seems that when we think of saints, we often think about the popular idea of saint from the Catholic Church. Recently in the news Pope Francis recognized seven people into sainthood. This kind of news seeps into our understanding and tends to make us forget that the Lutheran understanding of saint is every baptized person past, present, and future.
As we celebrate All Saints Sunday, we can focus on the ending – focus on the fact that we are almost at the end of another year, or we can live in the hope that with death, we are promised new life. The end of a church year means the start of another. The end of fall means we move to the death of winter, yes, but that spring will come again.
For the saints we lost, we give thanks, we are sad, we mourn their loss but we live in the hope of new life for them and for us.
The communion of saints means we are all in this together. All saints from all times past, present, and future are in communion together, we are together in our faith, and together in the new life we are promised through our trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For years I have been talking about shared ministry in the Nith Valley. Some of you have been to meetings and have been part of the conversation about how we can do ministry together in the Nith Valley.
In some ways St. James is engaged in shared ministry already. We are in a relationship with The Westmount LTC and we work with our other church neighbours all year long. We have a history of working with Mannheim as well that is a model of shared ministry.
Shared Ministry can be lived out in many different ways. In the Nith Valley, the trend is that congregations that are in close proximity work together to make ministry stronger. Right now, in the Nith Valley there are four congregations that are in a time of transition. Milverton has been without even an interim pastor for several months, Moserville’s (near Milverton) pastor is retiring at the end of 2018 and Pastor Joanna Miller is moving from Philipsburg/Baden to Conestoga which leaves those two congregations open at this point. This is a great opportunity for those four churches, or some formation of this group could join into shared ministry together.
Right now however, Baden and Philipsburg are without a pastor so the synod has asked Rick and I to do a short term interim position at these churches.
Your council has approved a 3 month trial of helping our neighbours with me as an interim at St. James, Baden. This will include me stopping by St. James in Baden every Sunday morning to start their 9:00 am service and connecting with the congregation before the service. I will leave Baden in time to get to New Dundee around 9:30 so that I give 100% to you on Sunday mornings. A couple of times in our three month trial my duties to St. James Baden will include serving communion. On those few days I will need a bit more time but still expect to be at service in New Dundee early enough to start worship.
Along with Sunday mornings I will attend their council meetings every six weeks and do any emergency visitation they may need as well as a few communion visits at Christmas time.
This is a new model for us and it is symptomatic of another new trend of many vacancies in local churches and not very many interim pastors. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about this interim ministry. It is a good way for us to help out our neighbours.
What’s your role in this interim ministry - I ask for a little grace from you and your prayers for this interim relationship, for your pastor, and for St. James Baden, that they find their way to calling a new pastor in an expedient way.
Ministry is every evolving and St. James has always been ready to adapt. Our Thanksgiving service is seeing a few exciting changes this year and we always seem to be open to trying new things. Thanks to church council for stepping out in faith to try this new thing called short term interim and helping our neighbours.
During this season of Thanksgiving, I continue to give thanks for the amazing people that make up St. James Lutheran Church in New Dundee. When I look ahead to the harvest dinner, I trust that we will have enough cupcakes, roast beef, and corn. I know that all the dishes will get done and all the chairs put away. I absolutely recognize that if I need to give away a few tickets to someone who can’t afford to buy them, that you all will say “absolutely”. I have faith in you, to carry out God’s work and will in New Dundee and beyond.
God’s peace and grace be with you all this Thanksgiving Season!!
Some food for thought as we enter the summer season from Canadian Lutheran World Relief...
Canadian Foodgrains Bank, of which Canadian Lutheran World Relief is a member, invites Canadians to join Christians around the world in a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine on June 10.
The call for a Global Day of Prayer comes from the All-Africa Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance, which invites Christians to “stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers to support them to realize a future free of extreme poverty, hunger and violence.”
They state that after years of steady progress in reducing world hunger, the number of hungry people globally has started to climb. “Famine, drought and armed conflict are making millions of our sisters and brothers hungry, homeless and vulnerable to conflicts, violence and abuse,” they state in the release.
June 10 is the second annual Global Day of Prayer to End Famine. Last year’s day was organized in response to over 20 million people in South Sudan, northern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen being at risk of famine, a number unprecedented in modern history. Although famine was mostly averted through the provision of critical humanitarian assistance, risk continues to be high for millions of people to experience famine or severe hunger in 2018.
“With your support, CLWR is able to act on our commitment to meet the needs of those suffering from food insecurity. The international programming you make possible focuses on those who are most vulnerable – particularly women and girls,” says Karin Achtelstetter, CLWR’s Executive Director.
“Through our partnership with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, your support is multiplied through matching funding and provides emergency food for those caught in famine or facing other urgent needs around the world,” she says.
If you would like to donate to help people caught in these food crises, please visit: https://www.clwr.org/donate/working-together
This summer, as you are spending time in your garden or walking through the market with ample supplies of healthy and nutritious food – offer a prayer for those who don’t have enough to eat, or for the girls around the world that are forced to quit school to take care of cooking and the home and fetching clean water. Perhaps make a donation to CLWR to help end hunger and famine in the world.
In New Dundee we have so much, it is our call to Christian duty to share our bounty with others.
On June 10th – take a few moments to talk with your family or friends about food issues locally and around the globe. Take a few moments with God to give thanks for all you have. Like the people sitting at the feeding of the five thousand, take this opportunity to share what you have with others.
May God’s grace fill your summer with ample abundance!
Over the winter this year my mother has been working away at a quilt for me. I have seen her make quilts before but since I this quilt is going to be for me I was paying more attention to the process and I have discovered that to make a quilt is a lot of work.
The quilt went in as soon as the Christmas tree came down and the quilt came out of its frame just last week. It is a king size quilt so larger than any other quilt my mother has made. This was not the only challenge for my mom to overcome with this big quilt. The border of this quilt is black which is harder to see. Another challenge was that the panels had flowers, and hearts, and leaves, and vines which means A LOT of quilting in each panel.
All of these obstacles were overcome by mother in a few ways. The first was perseverance. She just worked away at the quilt whenever she had some free time. She sat in her back room watching the winter while leaning on her quilt frames and working away. One stitch at a time, all the way across the quilt until it was time to turn and then she started again. Once and a while someone would stop by to help. My great aunt Mary came to add her tiny perfect stitches. My mom’s friends came to help out too. She spent an afternoon with my sister at the quilt even though she hadn’t quilted in years and finally, she even convinced me to put a stitch in as well. All of us working together to make this piece of art. Years of friendship, family, and memories all built into one perfect quilt that I can’t wait to display every day.
As we enter into Holy Week and head towards the Easter celebrations, we can appreciate the perseverance, artistry and intricacy of our faith story. This history of 2000 years of Easter morning Worship Services celebrating the core of our faith – Jesus death, resurrection and ascension – for us. The great sacrifice that God made through Jesus Christ, and the triumph of that sacrifice. The beautiful work of art it has created. So much depth, love and grace put into this story. So many hands that have participated. All these years and the Easter story has not lost any power, it has endured thousands of rulers and empires. It has been told for hundreds of generations, and still it the best story ever told and the greatest promise ever given.
Like a quilt that holds so much history, gives so much warmth, and is a piece of art, our faith story is all those things and so much more. Our faith story covers us completely, warms our souls, and offers us everything – it offers us life eternal.