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From the Desk of the Pastor: December 24, 2021

December 24, 2021

Good morning everyone.

Last evening, the children’s choir continued the tradition at St. Andrew’s of a Christmas Pageant with a walk around the church to tell the story of the birth of Christ through the voices of those we meet in the story.  The cold and slight dusting of snow did not dampen their enthusiasm and proud parents and grandparents made up an enthusiastic audience.  The children sang, we sang and walked around the buildings to a manger scene under the trees and a haunting lullaby to the baby and his mother sung in Spanish.  It was a magical experience.  It is such a pity that this Christmas also the dreaded virus impinges on our traditions and our gatherings, but the overall sentiment of those present last night is that “this too shall pass” and in time all will be well again.

Just before the pageant began, the final touches were put on the décor in the church.  All is ready for Mass this evening and for Christmas Day.  I am (we all are) so grateful to Yvette Vukanovich who has managed the sign up and assigning of seats for each Mass.  It was a tough job and she has spent countless hours on it with generous good humor and a smile.  She was assisted by a very willing group of volunteers who made hundreds of telephone calls over three days.  To everyone involved, a sincere thank you.  A dry martini, shaken not stirred, is the perfect tonic after everyone has been safely seated and celebrated with us.  As I mentioned last weekend at Mass, the fans are on in the church and the windows at the front entrance will be open and the fan to draw the air out of the building will also be on especially between Mases.  If it is a little cool when you come into the church, just know that it will warm up.  For those attending Mass in the church, please remember your seat number and follow the directions of the ushers after checking in.  for those who will join us online, Mass is live streamed on Christmas Day at 4.00 and 10.00 pm.  On Christmas Day Mass is live streamed at 10.30 and 12 noon.  The link is here:  https://www.standrewoakville.com/sunday-masses-online/  This evening, the choirs have a musical presentation before each Mass (3.45 for 4.00 and 9.30 for 10.00).  For those who are joining us online and would like to visit the church, we will be open every day until 6.00 pm.  Also, keep in mind that you are very welcome to park in the parking lot during when Mass is over and enjoy the beautiful walk along the lakefront and through historic downtown Oakville.

As we bring Advent to a close (and if you have five minutes to spare), this is a lovely reflection from the spiritual writer, Father Richard Rohr on the meaning of Christmas.     https://vimeo.com/246331333?ref=em-share   For many, Christmas is a lonely time and a time where we feel acutely the absence of loved ones either because of distance or death.  I came across this fine piece of music earlier this week that is filled with the themes of Advent promise and the message of Christmas that into every darkness, Jesus has come.  It was written by Paul Zach and Kate Bluett and recorded in November of this year in Charlottesville, Carolina.  https://youtu.be/VF9dKlRgnVY

 

Fr Felix and I received our booster shots this week and are happy to report that all went well, no aches or pains to be concerned about.  I commented on social media that great credit is due to the many staff and volunteers who pull this enormous effort off with a very professional attitude and good humor.  As we work our way through these unprecedented times, it is worth remembering again, that every day in our community and in our country, friends, neighbours and total strangers are out there doing what needs to be done and often are at doing so at risk to themselves.  Whisper a prayer over the next day for their generosity and their health and don’t forget to say thank you.  Remember too that the action of smiling behind a mask allows the eyes to communicate what you are doing.

The brown bag Christmas program will continue to receive the bags (please, not this evening or tomorrow) until early January when Terry Murphy will make the arrangements to have them sent out in early February.  The generosity of our parishioners is extraordinary and the financial donations that have been made will enable us to become involved in creative outreach projects in the summer.  More information on that will come later.

Finally, another word from Fr. Henri Nouwen for Christmas:  Jesus’ whole message is to say that you are God’s beloved child… When you can hear in your heart, not in your head, that you are truly God’s beloved daughter, that you are truly God’s beloved son, everything turns around. The mystery of this spiritual truth is that you were loved before you were born, and you will be loved to after you die… Your dwelling in God’s heart is a dwelling from eternity to eternity.– from “Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

Be well and may the Christmas Season be filled with the joy and peace of Emmanuel, God with us.  Be safe and let us pray for each other.

Fr. Con