Advent & Christmas 2020 - Fr. Dean Mercer
Last Friday the maximum number allowed at a church service in Toronto was reduced to 10 by provincial and city authorities, endorsed by our bishops. Every indication is that those restrictions are going to be with us through the Christmas season.
And so, like Lent and Easter this year, we will observe Advent and Christmas closer to home. Odd as it may seem, a lot of distractions have been removed, many which hinder our prayers. With a view to the opportunity this presents, I have these four recommendations for Advent 2020.
First, follow the Advent Christian tradition of setting aside time for fasting and prayer. If you don’t already have a daily pattern of prayer, try Morning Prayer on your own or with others on Zoom.
Secondly, read. Find a good book that will encourage you, that will build your faith, that will offer you the simple pleasure of a good book. Suggestions will be posted.
Thirdly, give. Remember your parish. We need everyone’s help to weather the Covid-19 storm. But in particular, remember those hardest hit by Covid-19: in your family, your Christian family, our brothers and sisters in need in the community and around the world.
At St. Paul’s, four ways of doing this spring to mind:
The Christmas Food Hamper program for parish members in need;
The foodbank of Agincourt Community Services;
The Angel Tree program, providing gift cards to children with a parent in prison;
A donation to Faithworks through which help is provided by the Anglican Church here and around the world.
Fourth and finally, connect and serve. Be in touch with those who you haven’t seen in a while, with a special thought for those in our company who live alone and may be vulnerable in this long season of isolation.
And watch for details about Christmas Services. The emerging plan is three-fold:
-to provide an online recording as we’ve done since last March;
-to gather by Zoom on Christmas Eve so that as many as possible, by phone or computer, may join together for a simple service of lessons and carols (we can sing in our homes!);
-and with plans to accommodate everyone who wishes to receive the sacrament and a Christmas blessing - though not all at once. This year St. Paul’s will take full advantage of the 12 Days of Christmas.
(Under the “Services” tab on the church website, an Advent & Christmas page will post these recommendations and some of the materials suggested above.)November is Stewardship Month - a stewardship letter to the parish is being distributed. Both the letter and pledge form are available on the website here: https://stpl.ca/give.html
New Safety Guidelines
On Friday (November 20), it was announced that church services in Toronto are now limited to ten (10) people maximum. For now, the Sunday schedule will remain the same, but those planning to attend will need to register. The registration site also indicates if a service is full. As always, all are encouraged to take advantage of the Zoom and online services available.
8.00 a.m. (at the church)
10.00 a.m. (at the church)
10.00 a.m. - Sunday School (online - see the church calendar)
10.30 a.m. - English service (online - see the church calendar)
1.00 p.m. (Chinese)
3.45 p.m. (Tamil) - also being streamed.
6.00 p.m. - Evening Prayer (online - see the church calendar)
Morning Prayer will continue to be offered on Zoom, Monday through Saturday. Sunday School by Zoom and the Sunday recording continue.
Christmas Schedule - watch for details.
This year’s annual Outreach Walk-a-thon has finished. Forms and donations are now being received. And if you have a picture of where you walked, send it in (firstname.lastname@example.org). Late submissions are still welcome and gratefully received.
S.P.Y. - St. Paul’s Youth - Friday Nights, 7 p.m.
Friday Night Bible Study - on Zoom - Next Friday, December 4. Revelation 20, Lesson 20. Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/830877703
Telephone: 647-374 4685, or 647-558 0588; Meeting ID: 830 877 703
Gifts and Offerings - The emergency measures and suspension of all church services and programs presents a large challenge to churches and charities dependent on regular gatherings and fundraising events. Your faithful support is as important now as it has ever been. Church Envelopes can be sent by mail. Members may wish to sign up for the Pre-Authorized Giving Program (contact the office). Or, gifts can be made online at our website through CanadaHelps here: www.stpl.ca/give.html. Members who use online banking may now also make E-transfers (contact the office).
Contact - The clergy of St. Paul’s are all in the vicinity and visiting in homes again, abiding by diocesan safety guidelines. If any one of us can be of service, don’t hesitate to call or write. Website: www.stpl.ca; Church phone: 416-499-1545; Email: email@example.com;
Fr. Dean Mercer: firstname.lastname@example.org; Rectory phone: 416-497-6352.