worship

Holy Week and Easter 2016

As we process through the Season of Lent, we also make our way to the central celebrations of the Christian year--those of Holy Week and Easter.

Holy Week is the last week of Lent. Beginning with Palm/Passion Sunday, it is the week that begins immediately to Easter Sunday. It is observed in many Christian churches as a time to commemorate and enact the suffering (Passion) and death of Jesus through observance and worship. Common observances include Maundy Thursday (the last supper), Good Friday (the crucifixion), and Holy Saturday (where Jesus lays in the tomb). 

Holy Week is important, especially in our own cultural context where Easter joy is celebrated, and often celebrated early (with Cadbury Easter eggs showing up as early as late February). Ours is a culture that often hides suffering, or seeks to escape it. While suffering is not a good thing, it is simply true that our world is filled with it, and that much of human life is touched by it. Whether personal, social, economic or environmental, it sits at the center of human existence.  It is important to place the hope and new life of the resurrection on Easter against the larger backdrop of death and endings as seen on the cross. Easter is figured as the divine answer not simply to the problem of death, but to the suffering of the world. It is only through walking under the shadows of darkness on Good Friday do we fully understand the light and hope of Easter Sunday.

This year, join us in the season of death and new life. For Holy Week, St. George's will be celebrating services on Palm/Passion Sunday, and a joint Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services with Comox United Church, Cumberland United Church, and Comox Presbyterian Church (for Good Friday). For Easter, we will be celebrating an Easter Sunrise service (with Comox United at Goose Spit) early morning, and Easter Sunday worship on Easter Day.

Schedule of Holy Week/Easter Services 2016

Palm/Passion Sunday March 20th 10:30am at St. George’s United Church
Maundy Thursday March 24th 5:30pm at Comox United Church
Good Friday March 25th 10:30am Joint Service at St. George’s United Church
Easter Sunrise Sunday March 27th 6:30am Joint Service at Goose Spit
Easter Sunday March 27th 10:30am at St. George’s United Church

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.

 

All About Our New(ish) Children's Church Leader Seva Ganga

Seva Ganga joined us as our Children’s Church Leader for the 4-10 year old group in July 2015.  Seva comes to us as a licensed Early Childhood Educator, experienced Montessori teacher and one of the few men in the Valley who work professionally with preschool aged children.

He has taught full time at preschools for 3 years, and part-time for 2.  He has worked at a number of preschools and daycares in the Valley, a Montessori preschool in Edmonton and a Waldorf-inspired program on Denman Island.  Ryan, Cheyenne and Seva have been working together to reimagine Sunday School as a time to introduce children to the faith in their own age-appropriate (and equally important) service, and nurture the creation of their own personal connection with God. 

Children’s Church happens each Sunday in the St. George’s library.  Our Children’s program includes a gratitude prayer, a lesson which parallels Ryan’s sermon and is presented through a puppet play, felt board story, story book or other creative presentation.  After the lesson we have a time we call “wondering together” where we explore our understanding of the story and what it means.  When the children feel done with their wondering we do a craft or have time for play before we rejoin the adult congregation to end the service.      

Seva grew up in Edmonton attending Trinity United Church as a child and youth with his family.  As a young adult he took great interest in learning about and exploring the practices of many religions and spiritual paths.  He still has great interest in finding the connections, commonalities and shared values in the teachings and practices, and seeing how different peoples work for the good of others and help to make God’s world an even better and more loving place.

Seva lives in Courtenay with his lovely partner, Karyn Parkinson, and their two year old son Narayan.  He also has an amazing 11 year old daughter, Arrowynd, who lives most of the time on Hornby Island.  Seva currently works as the director of his own early learning program for 2-6 year olds, Inner Smile Montessori, which is located near Courtenay Elementary.

Into the Mystery: A Four Part Series on the Book of Job

The book of Job has fascinated, infuriated, and confounded readers from both a literary and religious perspective for centuries. Job is a good and pious man who suffers unbearable tragedies, and he and his friends try to figure out why such disasters should happen to him. Through Job, people have wrestled with key questions like "why do bad things happen to good people," "what is the nature of God?" and "what are the limits of human knowledge?"

Join us for Sunday Celebrations at 10:30am the month of October while we delve deep into the mysteries of God and humanity with Job as our companion and spiritual guide.

October 4: The Question of Suffering
October 11: Beyond Our Total Grasp
October 18: The Mystery that Talks Back
October 25: The Joy of Humility

The Psalms and the Life of Faith August Sermon Series

The Psalms have been treasured as the prayer book of the Bible and world spirituality for three-thousand years. This worship series on the Psalms moves through a selection in a way which reflects how the life of faith is actually experienced—from stability to crisis, and then through to new life. Join us throughout the month of August as we explore the life of faith as patterned by the Psalms in prayer, music and in song.

Psalm 1: “The Two Ways” with Rev. Dr. Jason Byassee, Sunday, August 2th

The first Psalm opens the whole book by affirming that there is a trustworthy, though surprising “Way” to live life abundantly.

Rev. Dr. Jason Byassee is the recently appointed Butler Chair professor of preaching and biblical interpretation at Vancouver School of Theology. Jason is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church USA and joins us all the way from North Carolina where he pastored Boone Methodist Church.

Psalm 113: “Psalms of Orientation” with Rev. Ryan Slifka, Sunday, August 9th

Psalm 113 affirms that life and the world are good, reliable and stable. The world is shot through with the divine and a place of awe and worthy of deep reverence.

Psalm 69: “Psalms of Disorientation” with Rev. Ryan Slifka, Sunday, August 16th

The psalms of disorientation admit that life is not as well-ordered as a simple naïve faith may pretend.

Psalm 27: “Psalms of New Orientation” with Rev. Ryan Slifka, Sunday, August 23rd

Psalms of new orientation see that life in the world is not safe, and is filled with heartache and danger. Yet, these Psalms trust in a brighter tomorrow based on past experiences.

Psalm 148: “Living in Praise and Trust” with Ingrid Hartloff Brown, Sunday, August 30th

Ingrid.jpg

The psalms as a whole are not meant primarily to be sung in worship. Rather, we are invited to come to worship in order that we might sing the songs in daily life. We may live lives of deep courage, conviction and hope in the face of life’s troubles.

Ingrid Hartloff-Brown was formerly Associate Pastor at Eagle Ridge United Church in Port Coquitlam, and is a candidate for Ministry in the United Church of Canada

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.

Christmas and Advent at St. George's

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. 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.

Click here to find out more about what's happening at St. George's this season.