Bishop’s Notes – December 8, 2008

Dear Colleagues,

On Saturday night, Donna and I enjoyed the Barrie FMC’s annual “Christmas Cadenza” – a wonderful evening of Christmas music put together by a large group of talented singers and musicians all from within their congregation. They take over the Gryphon Theatre at Georgian College and invite community people to the presentations on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. It was great to hear the “whole story” of the Lord Jesus, from his birth to his resurrection, celebrated in the various themes of the songs – some traditional in style and others more contemporary, but all of it very good. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera with me to take pictures.

But that’s not the end of the story. This morning Cliff Fletcher (pastor at Barrie FMC) emailed the following: “Just needed to let you in on the whole weekend we just had: After the sound was straightened out at Cadenza, we are celebrating another great attendance and well done prayerful performance – we’ll pray now for people to be Holy Spirit inclined to pursue Christ this season; yesterday morning was awesome – 21 people were baptized and approximately 2/3 of these were brand new believers only since the summer! 13 new members. Lots of tears and a whole lot of cheering going on (here and heaven).

On Sunday morning, I was with the Tamil FM Fellowship to celebrate an answer to prayer that has been years in the making. (Eastern pastors, you may remember us joining in earnest prayer several years back at the Ministers Retreat at Wesley Acres to pray that God would provide a meeting place for the Tamil FMC in Mississauga.)

Yesterday, there was a lot of joy as we dedicated a 2100 sq ft facility that they have been able to purchase. It has a multi-purpose meeting area that is able to seat a little over 100 people. If you look at the pictures from this event in the Photo Gallery, you will also see that Pastor Jeyarajah is building a multi-generational congregation, and it was intriguing to see how they wove the use of English and Tamil into the worship service. I challenged this 13-year-old congregation to work together in the power of the Holy Spirit to reach many people for Christ. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that within the next year it will be necessary to have multiple services because of the numbers of people coming into their fellowship.

We are happy to announce that the Board of Administration have approved the following as Ministerial Candidates: Cathleen Getchell (Polson Park FMC) and Cristy Williams (Smiths Falls FMC).

I read the following Advent meditation from the Church of the Holy Spirit (FMC) in Ft. Frances, ON newsletter and hope that it nourishes you as it has me.

“The truth is Advent isn’t just four weeks. It is every day. Every day we are called to prepare the ground of our being so that it will become the “good earth”. We wait and we long, and yet we work as we long. We pay attention to our lived experience and, with God’s grace, uncover the reign of God. So we carry our Advent thirst through the hope of Christmas and beyond. We are invited to touch lifelong desires, celebrate hopes fulfilled and live with promise in our hearts. Advent is a time of anticipation, a time for looking forward. But John the Baptist reminds us that we must first look within, reflect upon our lives and the changes that will prepare us for the return of Jesus. Change is a call and a challenge to grow, but it is also a reality of life itself. To live is to change and to grow is to change much.

John went into the desert, willing to view his life in perspective. He was dedicated to honesty, admitting the shadows he found cast in his heart by the presence of Jesus. He acknowledged who he was, and recognized his need to change and grow. We too are called to be people of change, people dedicated to growth. Leaving the desert, John shouted the words of the prophet Isaiah. We hear those words today — What are the mountains in our lives that need to be leveled? What valleys need to be filled in? What wilderness needs to be cleared to prepare for the return of the Lord? Advent is a time in the desert, but not a time to escape into solitude. It is a time to walk into our hearts and to notice the shifting sands of our lives. And finally, to leave that place a bit changed and ready to make a difference.

We are not alone on our journey to God. We are not alone in building God’s kingdom or living God’s reign in our hearts. We have each other. Maybe we need to look to our left and right, as we walk along, to become more aware of our companions on this journey. Let us thank God for the love and faith we share with them. Let us thank God for the times they brought us to Jesus in prayer. Let us thank God for all the incredible things – the blessings – of real friendships. ” (An excerpt from: Advent Thirst – Christmas Hope – Prayer and Meditation for the Journey – by Anita M. Constance, SC – Paulist Press)

Have a great week serving Jesus.
Bishop Keith