A chorus of readers and singers led by Bishop Jane Alexander and accompanied by organist Fred Bryant, brought warmth to the festively decorated sanctuary of St. Aidan and St. Hilda Anglican Church, Rexboro, on Sunday, December 9.
The 41st Annual Advent Lessons and Carols Service drew an enthusiastic congregation to the pioneer country church west of Edmonton for the traditional telling of Jesus’ birth. But, amidst the cozy carolers, a bishop was stirring.
“We’ve just heard again that wonderful Christmas story telling us about the time when the world was turned upside down, said Bishop Jane.
Mary, barely able to contain herself and so full of excitement with what God wanted her to do, gave us her wonderful song, “The Magnificat,” she said.
“But when was the last time we jumped up and down with excitement about what God wanted us to do? I think sometimes as we hear the Christmas story and, and as we live again into this amazing thing, it becomes a question of what will we do to turn the world upside down?
“The other day I heard someone say that the challenge is not to keep Christ in Christmas, but to let Him out! So let Him out of Christmas so that He can keep on turning the world upside down through us. I think that’s really God’s point: that He came and gave the shepherds the best news in the world, and Mary jumped for joy and the world was turned on its head.
“I don’t think you can have a real faith without it interfering with every aspect of your life. Are there places where the world needs to be turned upside down and what might we do? Are there places, for example, where there are still children who are being forgotten about? I think about the children in Yemen. Are there places that haven’t known peace in a long, long time? I think about South Sudan. Are there places that are so used to being split apart that they take it for granted? I was in Bethlehem last summer and again was struck by the fact that there, right down the middle of the place where Jesus was born, there’s a huge, great wall. It’s not right, is it?
“What’s the thing that makes you a bit squirmy, because you know it’s not right? Whatever my part is, large or small; whatever your part is, large or small; I hope you will not sit on the edge. I hope you’ll take the fact that Jesus came to dwell among us and let it be the difference in your life.”
Bishop Jane and several members of the congregation took turns reading the nine lessons, beginning with Zachariah 2: 10-13; and ending with John 1: 1-14. Mary Phillips-Rickey and Mary Stephens shared their gift of song, performing together “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “O Holy Night.”
Following the service, many people gathered for fellowship at the Wabamun and District Seniors’ Centre, where food and donations were collected on behalf of the Wabamun Christmas Hamper Committee.
May the Spirit of Christmas renew your faith;
May the hope of Christmas bring peace;
May the love of Christmas bring happiness;
May the joy of Christmas be yours forever.