christian seasons

Advent and Christmas in Courtenay

We invite you to join us on the journey of watching, waiting, and mystery in this year's Advent and Christmas seasons. No matter who you are, where you are in life, or the journey of faith, there's a place for you at St. George's. Come as you are, and join us as we wait and watch in joyous anticipation for Emmanuel—God with us—who is already at work in making all things new.

Advent and Christmas Services and Concerts

  • November 29th: 1st Sunday in Advent Worship 10:30am - Annual Soup and Bun lunch to follow
  • December 4th: North Island Choral Concert "Magificats" 7:30pm
  • December 5th: North Island Choral Matinee "Magificats" 2:00pm
  • December 6th: 2nd Sunday in Advent Worship 10:30am
  • December 7th: UCW Women’s Vesper’s Service 6:00pm
  • December 12th: Blue Christmas/Celebrate a Life (At Comox United Church) 1:00pm
  • December 13th: 3rd Sunday in Advent Worship 10:30am
  • December 19th: Carols and Lessons service (At Comox United Church) 7:00pm
  • December 20th: Fourth Sunday in Advent Worship 10:30am
    Celebration Singers Afternoon Concert 2:30pm
  • December 21st: Celebration Singers Concert 7:30pm
  • December 24th: Christmas Eve Family Candlelight Service 6:30pm
  • December 25th: Christmas Day Service 10:30am
  • December 27th: First Sunday After Christmas Worship (with Carols) 10:30am
  • January 3rd: Worship Celebrating the Epiphany of the Lord (the Visit of the Magi)

Advent Worship - Nov. 29, Dec. 6, 13, and 20 at 10:30am

The season of Advent, beginning with the four Sundays before Christmas, marks the beginning of the Christian year. Advent is a time of anticipation and waiting. In these services we await the coming of Christmas, yes. But we are also waiting for God’s healing, God’s mercy, and God’s justice, waiting and hoping for a creation renewed, redeemed, and restored for good. Children's church and childcare with stories, songs and crafts is provided.

Christmas Eve Service - December 24th at 6:30pm

Join us Christmas Eve for an informal family service, where we'll listen to the Christmas story with new ears so we might see the world again with new eyes. There will be plenty of carols, an ad-hoc pageant which all children will be invited to join in to, complete with candlelight singing.

Christmas Day Service - December 25th at 10:30am

Join us Christmas morning as we mark the day with a more intimate, contemplative service. There will be many carols, including lesser-known ones. And we will celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion. Children are welcome, but no childcare is provided.

The First Sunday of Christmas - December 27th 10:30am

Join us for the first Sunday after Christmas, where we'll celebrate the season with carols and other festivities. Children's church and childcare with stories, songs and crafts is provided.

Epiphany Sunday (the Magi Visit) - January 3rd 10:30am

Join us as we wrap up the Christmas season and begin another with the visit of the Magi. Seasonal carols accompany the season of mystery and celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion. Children's church and childcare with stories, songs and crafts is provided.

About the season(s)

The season of Advent, beginning with the four Sundays before Christmas, marks the beginning of the Christian year. Advent is a time of anticipation and waiting. We spend much of our lives waiting. Yet, as the people of Jesus, we find ourselves waiting for the coming of God in our lives, in our communities and in our world. We await God’s healing, God’s mercy, and God’s justice, waiting and hoping for a creation renewed, redeemed, and restored for good.

Christmas itself not only marks the birth of Jesus, and the coming of God in our midst. It also marks the beginning of our own continual rebirth. In Advent and Christmas, we are offered the gifts of Peace, Joy, Hope, and Love to guide us on our path as children of God, being re-made and growing in to God’s image each day, and experiencing the divine life here and now.

 

The Centrality of Easter and the Easter Season

Marc Chagall, "Exodus," 1966

Marc Chagall, "Exodus," 1966

Easter is not over, yet. While the public celebration of Easter seems to come in a shorter burst than, say, Christmas, Easter is the biggest holy day and longest festival celebration in the Christian year. Where Christmas is twelve days, Easter is seven weeks. I have tried my best to make up an "on the forty-first day of Easter"-type song, but stalled out at day twenty. How many times can you give someone Cadbury eggs?

Nonetheless, Easter celebrates the mystery at the heart of the Christian story and the Way of Jesus. Indeed, every Sunday is actually meant to be a "little Easter" celebration. What this all says to me is that Easter is so big that it's hard to keep it contained to a single celebration. So rather than making up an Easter song, I thought I'd share with you the poem we hosted as our call to worship on the Second Sunday of Easter--"Resurrection" by Anthony B. Robinson:

Resurrection
is a word I like

In the Sunday papers
there are pages of “Easter bunny specials,”
soft, sweet, safe

Resurrection
is not safe
Resurrection
disturbs,
shatters,
surges

As a mountain stream shoots between boulders
white-blue, foam and force
power that cannot be stopped

Resurrection
is a word I like

On Sunday morning
they thought he was safe,
safely dead and buried,
over with,
finished,
done -- finally.

The One who put the question
The One who spoke the promise
The One who said, “follow me,”
The One in whom the new creation came near
was dead and buried
safely
Bring on the bunnies, flowers, candy, sports, spectacles
and other safe substitutes for
Life

Resurrection
is a disturbing word;
it says,
we’re never safe
from God
from newness
from life
from grace

A disturbing, hopeful, shattering word
Resurrection
is a word I like

Easter is not only important for us, it's hard to escape. May the disturbing, shattering hopeful news of God's power for Life continue to surge for you the rest of this Easter season and beyond.

The Meaning of Lent

Yesterday was a fruitful day at St. George's. We began the Lenten Challenge, with our morning group meeting for the first time. And we participated in a rich Ash Wednesday service in the evening. It was a meaningful beginning to the season of Lent.

But what is Lent all about? Generally, we might think of it as a time of "giving up." Yet, that's only part of the picture. America magazine recently interviewed Maureen Tilley, professor of theology and medieval studies at Fordham University on "the History of Lent." From its beginnings as a season for public penance for those who committed "grievous sins" to our more modern calendar-oriented practices, Lent has had a fascinating evolution over time. Check it out by clicking here!

The Transfiguration and our Transformation

The Christian seasons have not been a huge part of the United Church of Canada's tradition up until recently. The calendar has been recovered in recent decades with the hope of closing the gaps and mending divisions between Christian churches in the world, especially between Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. Also, though, in our world of round-the-clock consumerism, and minimal public holidays, there's something about patterning your life after a different calendar that makes time, different, special, or holy. As part of a fundraiser for our Pastor's Benevolent Fund, we sold copies of the Christian Seasons Calendar to help us in the recovery of these ancient practices of living in a different sort of time. I've found this especially profound for my kids, who even look forward to Lent!

On that note, we're coming up to Transfiguration Sunday in the Christian calendar. The odd day celebrating the story where Jesus is transformed--he becomes radiant to his disciples on the top of the mountain. This year, we'll be reading the version from Mark 9:2-10. It's such a weird story. Weird, especially, because Jesus tells his disciples not to discuss anything they have seen until "after he had risen from the dead."

Perhaps they don't see clearly enough in the present to know what this experience means. There are many people who can spot the divine in the here and now and understand what it all means no problem. Speaking for myself, though, I've found that when I actually spot something it's usually in retrospect. It's after looking back on things and reflecting on the present moment where I can say "I think that was the Spirit at work." Sometimes it's like we don't have the full picture of things in the present, and can only understand things fully after they have happened. What's interesting with this passage is that it looks like Jesus is saying that the disciples can't really understand what is happening on the mountain top, or even his whole life and ministry, unless they understand it in the life of the resurrection. They didn't really know what Jesus was up to until then.

How about you? Have there been moments in your life that didn't seem important at the time, but in looking back you realized they were actually huge moments of transformation in your life? Or your family or your community? How were you changed by them?

Let's keep these questions in mind as we make our way to celebrate our past, present and future in the light of the Spirit together!

All About Epiphany

This Sunday at St. George's, we'll be celebrating the feast of the Epiphany, which normally ends the twelve days of Christmas. It is one of the older feasts in the Christian calendar, being celebrated first in the 4th century. Epiphany means “manifestation” or “striking appearance,” It celebrates the (the revealing, the unveiling) of Jesus’ divine identity to the gentiles--the people who do not yet know the story of the God of Israel.