We’re having another New Year’s Eve party this year. Like last year it will be at Andy & Beckie’s home (see the image below for the address). Everyone’s welcome and it’s friendly for humans of all ages. There will be fun and games, fire and a sauna. Bring a snack to share (and a bathing suit & towel if you want to try the sauna). It starts at 7pm.
Let’s welcome the New Year with a celebration!
On Sunday, Dec 31 at 10am we will have a Celebration Service. We will look back at 2017 and take it all in. The good, the bad, the ugly – and give it all to God with gratitude. We will look forward to 2018 with anticipation. We will come together to encounter the living God! Emmanuel – Jesus – the very representation of the Father made present to us by the Holy Spirit. Living in us – active amongst us. Healing, restoring, reconciling, renewing.
I came across this painting by Sister Grace Remington a few years ago while doing research for a sermon. I can’t recall what the sermon was on but this painting has stayed with me, lingering in my inbox. It moved me then and it still moves me now. I find myself in it – perhaps you will too.
This painting speaks with a simple eloquence of the hope that Christmas points to. But more than that it speaks to me of my condition as a descendant of Eve – as one who has been infected by the serpent’s venom – as one who has been tripped up too many times by the cunning temptations hung before me like plump juicy fruit (pears by the look of it in this rendition – I love pears…). It reminds me that the rebellion of my ancient biblical ancestors lives in me too.
This painting also speaks to me of another reality I’m learning to live into. It calls me to recall my position and identity within God’s family. The snake has bitten my foot (“bruised” as the Hebrew puts it). It hurts and the venom is deadly. However, the head of that very same snake has been struck (again, bruised) by the baby in that womb. The prophecy spoken to the serpent in Genesis 3 has been fulfilled in the coming of Jesus (he will bruise your head, you will bruise his heel). In other words, the snake will go down fighting, but he will go down (technically he already has, but that’s for another post). This picture is pregnant with this promise. It beckons me to live up to this hope and to allow my life to be infused and transformed by it.
This is worth celebrating. Not the shallow kind of celebration that denies the difficult parts of my reality, but the authentic and genuine praise that erupts from the throats of worshippers who have tasted of freedom and are longing for more! The kind of deep celebration that happens when the one stuck in pain and loneliness feels hope communicated to them through the loving embrace of community. It’s the joyful tears of forgiveness, and the melodies that well up from within when the sweet tastes of hope and freedom replace the bitter flavours of sin. We have reason for hope and we have reason to celebrate!
Jesus has come. Jesus is with us. Jesus has the last word (and the word after that too).
This Sunday, January 1, 2017. 10am.
P.S. We will start on time (as usual) – don’t miss out by being late.
We wish you all God’s best this holiday season. May you be filled with peace and joy as we enter 2016 and may you be rooted in his nourishing love in every circumstance. We are so privileged to serve this amazing community. God has done so much in and through WCV over the years and we are honoured and humbled for what has gone before us and excited for what’s in store!
Here’s a blessing we pray for us all now – you can pray it too!:
“May God make your year a happy one! Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain, but by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes; not by making your path easy, but by making you sturdy to travel any path; not by taking hardships from you, but by taking fear from your heart; not by granting you unbroken sunshine, but by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows; not by making your life always pleasant, but by showing you when people and their causes need you most, and by making you anxious to be there to help. God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.”
With love and gratitude – the Pastoral Elders.