A bright blue day with sparkling snow
Sunday, January 11th, at St. Philip Lutheran Church, our covenant partners, Maranatha Lutheran congregation, said an emotional good-bye to their pastor of nine years—Pastor Peter Kuhnert and his family. As well we celebrated the baptism of Jesus on this day of the church year.
Pastor Peter`s wife, Pastor Karen Kuhnert, assisted with the service, with Bishop Michael Pryse, of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on hand for the ceremony of release. Pastor Peter welcomed Pastor Claudine Carlson, interim pastor for St. Philip, to say a few words in introduction. She will also be doing a communion service once a month for Maranatha as part of her work here.
And though Pastor Peter has been pastor of Maranatha and not St. Philip, we have shared the space and celebrate Lenten services and supper together as well as Christmas Eve and Black History Month services, and thus we have gotten to know both him and his family. I might add that my brief time on the liaison committee has helped with that too.
Member of the Starlite Steel Band played as members and guests entered the sanctuary and again during communion. (photo: S. Fletcher)
Emmanuel George, Faith Life rep gives a contribution to Sharon Heeralall, council chair of Maranatha. (Photo: S. Fletcher)
The service opened with remarks from Pastor Peter and Sharon Heeralall, council chair of Maranatha, who welcomed all in attendance and gave an emotional and heartfelt thanks to Pastor Peter on behalf of their congregation.
Bishop Pryse, in his brief remarks, called on his memories as a child of this congregation (St. Philip), the first baptized at St. Philip, and promised support to Maranatha Lutheran as they move forward. “We will walk forward together, celebrate the sweetness even among the bittersweet.”
The singing was joyful and mixed with tears too, as Maranatha said good-bye. We go forward together—St. Philip and Maranatha—knowing that Jesus Christ is with us and that God holds our futures.
In his sermon, Pastor Peter recounted his time and various events with his congregation. He reminded us that “every day we are washed in God’s blood” and that “Baptism is a day of endings and beginnings.” … “Thank you to Maranatha for inviting me into your sacred spaces.” In reflection on the past year and a half in covenant partnership, Pastor Peter added, “Thank you also to St. Philip for welcoming us into your building.”
[ Personal note: Soon after returning home I learned that the first great grandchild of my friend Karleen in Colorado was baptized this same day.]
Photos © Sylma Fletcher at Link, by her gracious permission. Other photos © C. Wilker
This morning, soon after 7 a.m. when I rose, I noticed the frost on the trees outdoors, as though Jack Frost had used a giant paint brush and decorated everything outdoors, and the sky was the most amazing colour of light blue. As the sun climbed even higher in the sky, the effect was dazzling. And so for today, I’ll just share some thoughts and photos that my husband and I took.
Unlike last year when the snow came in late October, here in southwestern Ontario, and seemed to stay through a lot of November and December, in late 2014 we had a taste of winter about a month before Christmas and then the snow disappeared and we had a “green” Christmas. Now it seems that we do indeed have winter. It was mighty cold when I set out for writer’s group meeting last evening, and even colder on my return home.
There’s beauty in winter. Watch for it.
photos © of L. R. and C. R. Wilker
Borrowing just a title from one of my favourite Christian singer/songwriters, Ali Matthews—Love came down at Christmas. I think she won’t mind too much as I’m including her song and, well, I happen to know her too.
I was reflecting this evening on my granddaughters’ and others’ anticipation of Christmas. Christmas is coming. It’s in the future, some day soon. For them the waiting is hard, and the anticipation keen. They count down the days on their Advent calendar, not one with chocolates, but numbers.
Yesterday, one of them asked, “How many days?”
And, her mother said, “One nine, and tomorrow it will be…?”
And daughter guesses, “One zero.”
“If you go back to one, you have to wait longer.” And she smiles.
And the five-year-old thinks on this.
I smile, having had such conversations with my children when they were as young as my daughter’s children. And I think, too, of how long God’s people waited for the Saviour they had read about in the scriptures. Surely it couldn’t be long now. But we know from historical accounts that it was, indeed, years and years. Hundreds of years and more. They thought of the Saviour who would come. And Mary, Jesus’ mother-to-be. Must the time have seemed long to her? Did she feel ready for this large responsibility?
We talk about the waiting too, but with anticipation of days and weeks. It’s not long now. In a few days we’ll say, “The Saviour comes,” and we time it by the liturgical calendar, and soon the day is here and we celebrate.
Too soon the day is over and we say, “It was a good day” or “over so quickly.” We move into the past tense regarding Christmas, even though the season is much longer than one day. But if we remember the reason for this celebration, we acknowledge what Jesus did for us and how much God loved us to send this baby into the world. He came for all of us, whether we are sad or glad or somewhere in between, in whatever place we are now.
And so I encourage you to look up the story (Luke 2) and read it over and think about the celebration and what it really means. May you receive God’s blessing and peace this Christmas.