Watch this week’s service on YouTube by clicking: December 17 Worship Service Video
Join us for worship on Sunday at 10:00 AM followed by the HeBrews Cafe
Christmas Eve Schedule – Sunday, December 24
10:00 AM Advent 4 featuring Children’s Christmas Party
7:00 PM Christmas Eve Communion with guests Winnipeg Church of the Deaf
9:00 PM Candlelight Communion with Senior Choir
Welcome to worship for Sunday, December 17, 2023.
The Manitoba Multifaith Council has issued an invitation to faith communities from all traditions to pray for peace this coming weekend. In the material they sent out they say “Individuals and faith groups are invited to participate in this collective peace initiative to address global tension and discord and foster unity among all people”. They go on to add that people are welcome to share their experience on social media using #prayforpeace.
It feels to me like a lot of thought has gone into the timing of this initiative, on at least three levels. In the first place the call is for December 15, 16, and 17. That means it not simply covers a weekend but includes the days of weekly observance in the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian traditions. In other words, faith communities are being invited to pray for peace on the days that faith communities will be gathering to pray. This is, as the poster says, a collective effort as it should be.
The second (and stated) element of timing in this request is the season we find ourselves in. Coming from a multi-faith body there is a reference to the idea that many traditions have a focus at this time of year on light, peace, and goodwill. While that is true it doesn’t mean that the observances of other traditions is the exact same thing as Christmas. However, a central motif of the birth story of Jesus is that an angel choir sang “peace on Earth, goodwill to all” to field-abiding shepherds. There is a special meaning in the Christmas story and praying with others for peace fits as snuggly as a babe in swaddling clothes.
Finally, the times in which we find ourselves suggest that praying for peace with our neighbours couldn’t be more appropriate. The voices that accept this invitation are not being asked to pray for one side over another, for one people over another, for one religion over another. One of the sad curiosities of the open warfare in Gaza is that it is turning neighbours against one another here and in other countries on the other side of the world. Such is the trap of violence and conflict. Sin wants us to take sides, to choose who is right and who is wrong rather than first choosing peace over warfare and then proceeding to resolve conflict non-violently.
During the season of Advent, I wear a blue stole adorned with the Jerusalem Cross on Sundays. It is the newest stole in my collection and I bought it when visiting Bethlehem in 2019. More specifically it is the handiwork of Palestinian women sold in the offices of Wi’Am, a conflict transformation agency in the West Bank. When I wear it I think of the people I met in that community and the deep struggle they have to live peacefully in a conflict-riddled area. On that stole I also wear a pin that is the Star of David.
It is not simply a symbol of Judaism but has a particular meaning. It says that I am a person committed to remembering the Holocaust and not allowing it to be forgotten as the last of the survivors come to the end of their lives.
I do not see any inherent contradiction in being reminded of Palestinian people and Holocaust survivors when I lead worship in a Christian congregation. Indeed, whether we use the words or not, we pray for peace each and every time we are together. We live and act with specificity for the sake of unity more broadly. Or to put it in the terms of the central teaching of the One whose birth we are preparing to celebrate, loving God and loving neighbour is one and the same thing.
Let us pray.
Grace and peace,
- For news and events please have a look at Life & Work on our website: Life and Work
- Did you know you can support this ministry by e-transfer, automatic withdrawal (PAR), and gifted securities, in addition to weekly or monthly cheques? For Offering Information please visit: https://charleswoodunited.org/support/ Thank you for your generous support.
- Through the United Church of Canada’s membership in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, an appeal for donations has been issued for the Humanitarian Crisis in the Middle East. For more information and to donate please visit: Humanitarian Crisis in the Middle East Appeal
- Michael Wilson’s book “A Pastoral Pandemic: Remaining Connected in a Time of Disconnection” is available in store and online through CommonWord Bookstore (Canadian Mennonite University). For more information visit: https://www.commonword.ca/go/3408.
- Share the service with friends by forwarding this email or using this link: https://youtu.be/Xk1aY_GHAac
- The reading for this week’s service can be found at: Luke 1:39-55