Category Archives: Blog

The Omicron Variant and Our Congregations

Thank you to Michael Marais at unsplash.com for this image

This morning, the province of Ontario returns to Step 2 of our roadmap to reopen. This decision was made in light of the staggering increase of Covid infection rates due to the Omicron variant. To give you an idea of how quickly this variant is moving, consider that the rolling average of cases in the province is now 14,598 compared to 10,327 a week ago and 926 a month ago.

The good news is that it appears that for the fully vaccinated this version of the virus is less serious than the Delta variant, but, it is still very serious.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

Thank you to Nong Vang and unsplash.com for this image

I was asked this week if I could recall my earliest memory of a bible story. The question came from a friend who is presently studying at Knox College, one of our denominational seminaries. Her query was prompted by a paper she is busy writing on the faith journeys of children. She is hoping to sprinkle some of these personal stories of treasured memories throughout her paper as illustrations of how children grow in faith.

What a delightful invitation to take a trip down memory lane.

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Our Interactive Advent Calendar Is Now Complete

And, it’s ready for you to share with your congregation, friends, and family members.

You may have read about, and even checked out, the sample 2021 interactive Advent calendar created for congregations to upload onto their church website, facebook page and/or email to homes for Advent this year.

Well, it is now complete and ready to use.

It’s a wonder-filled calendar built on a Google Slide that allows users to click to on a new door each day of Advent and be taken on an interactive journey through the themes and stories that prepare us for the coming of Jesus this Christmas. Individuals and families of all ages will experience videoed bible stories, music, recipes, crafts, adventures, rituals, games and so much more with this calendar.

So, first of all, check out the calendar. You can do this by clicking on the picture of the calendar at the beginning of this article. When you do the calendar will expand to fill your screen. Then click on some of the dated doors and start your journey.

Then, let you people know that the calendar will soon be coming their way; that in a very short week you will have it up on your church’s social media sites or emailed to them at home.

Finally, use the following instructions to upload the calendar onto your website, facebook page or place in a congregational email and set it to go live on the evening of Saturday, November 27th (the day before the first Sunday of Advent) ready for them to experience the next day.

Instructions for uploading

To take the calendar from this article and attach it to your church’s website, drag the photo of the calendar onto your church’s desktop. Alternatively, you can right click on the picture then save the picture on your computer by right clicking on ‘save image as.’ You can then upload the picture to your computer’s website. Then, to find the link to connect the calendar picture to the interactive calendar click on the interactive calendar link above so it opens up a new window, and copy the url at the top of the screen. At this point you may choose to hyperlink this url into the picture of the calendar picture you’ve placed on your website, or add it as a link below the calendar picture, in this case noting that the link itself is what will take users to the interactive calendar.

This is the link to the calendar: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/17HgdR37Kec0tcTN6YQNFkSE5W8oiVH96rpbPhDydZ-g/present?slide=id.phttps://docs.google.com/presentation/d/17HgdR37Kec0tcTN6YQNFkSE5W8oiVH96rpbPhDydZ-g/present?slide=id.p

If you’d like something more

If you would like to complement the calendar with an all-ages devotional booklet that follows the same daily themes as the Advent Calendar, please check out free 2021 Advent Devotional booklet featured in THIS article and downloadable for printing HERE.

Thank you to everyone who contributed their time and talent to this Advent Calendar. They are Terrie-Lee Hamilton, Tobey Boyer, Martin and Trisha Smit, Presbyterian Music Camp, Mirim Kim, Kristine O’Brien, Holly Boyne, Robert Bisset, John-Peter Smit, Gale Macdonald, Marylou Malicdem, Yunmi Kwon, Karen Pozios, Robynne Howard, Laura Alary and Daniel Scott. When asked each one said a resounding yes to being a special part of this venture and have collectively made this calendar a wonderful gift for everyone to enjoy.

A Free Interactive Advent Calendar For Your Church

Click HERE For The Link

One of my fondest memories as a child was of receiving an Advent calendar just before the first day of December. I loved those little doors. I would wait expectantly for the dawn of each new day, knowing I would get to open that day’s door and find a new treasure inside. Behind every door of my childhood calendar I would find a lovely picture of a Christmas symbol along with a scripture passage for me to read. Over the course of Advent I would experience the stories leading to Jesus’ birth as I anticipated opening that one final door on Christmas day.

We passed this tradition on to our children and delighted in watching the next generation open these wonder-filled doors for themselves. Over time though their calendars began to reveal a bit more chocolate than stories, and the ritual became more of a countdown to Christmas day than a way of preparing for Christmas Day.

This Advent I’d like to invite you and your congregation to enjoy a new kind of Advent calendar, one that includes the significant stories of scripture along with some contemporary stories that connect with the important themes of Advent. In addition to these incredible stories, this calendar also includes simple crafts, new songs, outdoor adventures, special ways of caring for others, and fun games.

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For Us, A Child Is Born: An All Ages Advent Devotional Booklet to Download

Introducing this year’s Advent Devotional Booklet for all ages, For Us, A Child is Born.

On Sunday, November 28, 2021 we begin the season of Advent; the first season of our Christian year. And, as we anticipate the coming of Christ the Messiah into our world anew, it is good to prepare a way for our Lord to come into our homes and our lives. Daily devotions are a wonderful way to prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus as we read the prophesies and stories that lead us to Jesus’ birth.

With this simple devotional booklet all ages will have the opportunity to light the Advent candles, read the scriptures and hear the stories that prepare us for the nativity. Everyone is invited to ponder Advent questions, write and/or doodle on journal pages and say pray of thanksgiving, joy and love.

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A Memorial Liturgy for All Saints Day

Thank you to Tina Witherspoon and unsplash.com for this image

November 1 is All Saints Day in the Christian Church. While we do not venerate saints in the same way other traditions do, we do have enough Knox and St Andrew’s churches along with other saint named churches to know that we take the concept of saints seriously.

We also have a further, more informal understanding of the communion of saints; namely those faithful Christians who have gone before and make up ‘that great cloud of witnesses’ that we read of in Hebrews 12. In the season of Covid, it is appropriate that we remember them.

As we head towards two full years of Covid-19, I have been reflecting on the communion of saints and in particular the opportunity to remember our cloud of witnesses on this coming All Saints Day. As I consider the past pandemic season, I realize that almost all of us have had the experience of being unable to faithfully respond to the death of loved ones. 

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Head’s Up! These Advent Resources Will Soon Be Coming Your Way

Advent Wreath in a Box – Instructions for this will be given in the 2021 Advent resources

Are you beginning to make plans for the 2021 Advent and Christmas season?

I am too!

I’ve been reading through the lectionary texts, looking through children’s story bibles and other story books, testing out crafts, listening to music, and playing with Google Classrooms all with a mind to creating engaging intergenerational resources for the upcoming season of Advent for your church to enjoy. Today I want to give you a head’s up on what resources you can expect from me later this month and early in November. I hope this will help you consider how they might work with what you’re planning for your church, and perhaps even lighten your load just a little bit as they fill in some of the areas you are hoping to fill.

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If Not In-Person Sunday School, Then What?

Has your church decided to delay in-person Sunday school for children under the age of twelve or, are you looking to provide a variety of in-person and virtual Sunday school options that will allow the church to welcome all children to Sunday school whether or not everyone is comfortable with a return to in-person gatherings?

If you missed out on our Zoom workshop last week on Alternative Options you can still view the videoed portion of the workshop that outlines six options for churches to consider. There’s a helpful handout too that includes many links to wonderful websites and resources mentioned in the video.

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Checklist for In-Person Children’s Ministry

I just got this great resource today that your church might be interested in using.

It is a very helpful and detailed checklist for all in-person children’s and youth ministry programming that takes place in your church building during the our current phase of the pandemic. This checklist comes to us from the Diocese of Toronto with the Anglican Church of Canada. While it is not a document of the Presbyterian Church in Canada it does serve as a very helpful resource for our churches to be guided by.

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