PARISH NEWS - January 3 2021
SERVICES AND GATHERINGS THIS WEEK
We are following the Diocesan guidelines; only 10 people are allowed for services in the church. The office is closed except by appointment. Nyle, Peter and the wardens will continue to monitor the building and will be in the building on a regular basis.
WEDNESDAY – COMPLINE - Compline is a short service of night prayer, part of the Daily Office or Liturgy of the Hours that has structured the prayer life of the church for many centuries. The heart of Compline is the recitation of several psalms. There is a short reading from scripture (usually one or two sentences in length), intercession, and time for reflection. It is a beautiful way to close out an active day. Technology has provided us with the means to share this ancient office. Compline is offered by St. James’ through Facebook as a way to bring the community together. If you cannot join live, the service is available afterwards on St.James’ Facebook channel.
THURSDAY - Our coffee hour occurs on Zoom at 10am. Join us to chat and enjoy one another’s company for an hour. Bring your own coffee!
Meeting ID: 693 269 0932
Use either the link while on your browser or go directly to ZOOM and insert the “meeting ID”.
SUNDAY - Until we hear differently, the Sunday service will continue to be on-line at 10.00 a.m. To view the Sunday Services you'll need to follow the link posted on the homepage or our Facebook page.
This month’s The Prayerground can be seen on this link:
Many people responded to the fact that we did not have in-person worship at Christmas and have shown their generosity in a variety of ways. As well as “regular” givings”, individuals have supported in very tangible ways, specific programs including Nightwear for Ellen Osler Home, Adopt-A-Family, The Jean Archbell Fund for refugees, and the Community dinner program. We are blessed, indeed.
INCOME TAX RECEIPTS … AND MORE
Early in this new year, you will receive your income tax receipt for your donations to the church in 2021.
Accompanying your receipt will be a short form asking you to update your contact information – telephone number(s), especially cell phone number(s), and e-mail address. Of course, this information will be kept for office use only and your participation is voluntary. We had a number of situations in 2021 in which we felt the need to contact people (or their families) quickly … and realized that we did not have the proper information available. If you are comfortable with this, you may also include contact information just in case we have an emergency and need to contact a relative or friend.
NIAGARA MISSION ACTION PLAN FOR PARISHES
The Niagara Diocese has some excellent resources for Parishes. One that Bishop Susan alluded to when she visited with the Parochial Committee was a direction towards being a “Missional” Church. Indeed, the Diocesan website has a section on Missional Learning Opportunities and Resources and the “School” (see below) has its own website. The school was featured in the January, 2022 issue of the Niagara Anglican.
If you want to look at the Facilitator’s Guide for the process, it can be found at
https://niagaraanglican.ca/mission/assets/MAP Fillable Facilitators Guide.pdf
If you are interested in getting a “quick look” at the notion of the Missional Church, please go to the end of this blog … there is a two page version which will provide you with the basics … a “Missional Church Introduction”.
The Niagara School for Missional Leadership is offering courses this winter (basically, February and March) on a number of topics, if anyone is interested in getting a “feel” for this initiative. Most run for 5 – 6 weeks, once per week, at various times. The “big picture” is available on the School’s website – nsml.ca Also included is a detailed description and the times and dates of all of the courses offered.
AND FOR YOUR INFORMATION … PARISH NEWSPHLASHES
We have received thanks from Ellen Osler Home for the donation of nightwear for their clients….many thanks to Anne W. for the organization and implementation and to all who contributed.
Coats and Boots – 650 already sent to various agencies – WOW! Huge numbers! We will continue into March but please remember to bring in clean items in good repair.
A NEW YEAR’S PRAYER
By Charlotte Anselmo
Thank you Lord for giving me the brand new year ahead
Help me live the way I should as each new day I tread.
Give me gentle wisdom that I might help a friend
Give me strength and courage so a shoulder I might lend
The year ahead is empty; help me fill it with good things
Each new day filled with joy and the happiness it brings.
Please give the leaders of our world, a courage born of peace.
That they might lead us gently and all the fighting cease.
Please give to all upon this Earth, a heart that’s filled with love
A gently happy way to live … with your blessings from above.
MISSIONAL CHURCH INTRODUCTION
Parish Mission Action Plan PROCESS
Why is the diocese focusing on being missional?
Because research shows that churches who have a missional focus are growing faith communities, growing in faith and growing in disciples. Those communities are marked by:
• people readily sharing their stories of how God’s unconditional love and the Way of Jesus has transformed them,
• an openness to hospitality that embraces and upholds seekers, questioners, neighbours, and strangers in language that they understand,
• porous walls that facilitate the flow of the parishioners out into the world to come alongside God’s work and tell the story of God’s love even as community members are drawn into the church to experience a sense of belonging and affirmation of both worth and gifts...where there’s a sharing of strengths and gifts, and a recognition of and respect for the image of God in everyone, friend, and stranger,
• partnerships with community organizations, service groups, entrepreneurs, and other churches working together to ensure fullness of life for all,
• spiritual practices that ground risk taking and trust sharing in response to the voice of the Spirit
• stewardship of space, place, gifts, and treasures that responds generously to both the abundance
with which God gifts us and the responsibilities of care that accompany those gifts, and
• intentional and diverse pathways that invite and enable people into a deeper relationship
with Jesus and with God through which people become their most authentic selves, deeply immersed in God’s fullness of life.
What missional means...
“At every stage in the biblical narratives is hope for a future reality toward which the people are moving. Being missional means we join this heritage, entering a journey without any road maps to discover what God is up to in our neighborhoods and communities.”
It’s hard to think about being invited to examine our ways of worshipping and discipling; maybe even our ways of being together as a community of faith, and our patterns of engaging with the world. Perhaps it will help a bit to consider that the early church was pushed into big changes shortly after Jesus’ death. The early followers of Jesus continued to meet at the temple as well as in small gatherings of fellowship because they saw themselves as part of the continuum of the journey of the Jewish people. However, many of those followers found themselves in Antioch where they engaged with Gentiles who had heard about Jesus and wanted to know more.
As Alan Roxburgh says... ” the Holy Spirit fell upon them and a new kind of church was birthed at Antioch, comprised of mostly Gentiles.” This was not what the followers of Jesus planned for or expected. Roxburgh continues, “The Spirit broke the boundaries that were already defining what it meant to be a Christian. The church was forced out of the box it had created for itself and would never have entered by itself.” Doesn’t that sound something like the church today?
Yet still you might be wondering what missional means. Again, Roxburgh comments “God is up to something in the world that is bigger than the church even though the church is called to be sign, witness, and foretaste of God’s purposes in the world. The Spirit is calling the church on a journey outside of itself and its internal focus.”
What does it mean to be a sign, witness, and foretaste of God’s purposes in the world? I’d suggest it is fairly simple. It means that the church, the people of God are called upon to tell the story of God’s love; to tell the story of how each one of us has been transformed...so beloved and forgiven that we awaken each morning delighting in knowing ourselves to be a loved child of God. To be missional is to tell others what the Good News of the gospels means in our individual lives and in our lives as a faith community.
It is critical that we remember that Jesus told the story of God’s love in language that was familiar to his listeners. It’s incumbent on us to do the same. We need to translate how we tell our story into the language of the context in which we find ourselves so that the people with whom we’re in relationship can hear what we are saying. How we tell our story will differ as we speak to fellow parishioners, our grandchildren, our neighbours, our co-workers, people we meet. How do we know what language will work in different contexts? We learn their “language and culture” by practicing deep listening; by developing relationships in which we hear people’s joys, challenges and worries.
In addition to telling the story of God’s love, we are called, as Paul says to the church in Corinth, to live as a testimony to Christ written with the Spirit of the living God on our hearts; in other words, we show the story of God’s love by embodying what that means; compassion, grace, humbleness, and care for and advocacy alongside the marginalized in the world.
Let’s be clear; we don’t know what that looks like for your parish. There is no “model” of missional church that is a template for success. Nor is there any biblical prescriptive of how to be the church that will ensure we are on the right path. Rather, like so many of the people in the biblical narrative, we are invited to journey with God on a path that has no roadmap, on a path that is revealed in the relationships we develop, the stories we hear, the whisperings of the Spirit we attend to, and the boldness with which we attempt to join in God’s restorative work of love.
While there is not a detailed roadmap to follow, the Mission Action Process is intended to illuminate a pathway that will allow your parish to develop its own unique mission action plan that could intentionally shape your shared ministry and growth over the next few years.