This morning the sun shone, so of course I headed out on my bike without my rain pants. And then I lost my phone. Another normal morning in the life of your priest. Not very prepared! Nonetheless we carry on getting things ready for the coming again of our beloved Saviour on Christmas Eve. There is much to do. Bulletins to be prepared, letters sent, food planned, songs to consider. The piles of paper that must go into the proper file. Friday is the day of our regular Food Cupboard, and this morning almost 50 neighbours came to collect some emergency supplies.
St. Barnabas sits on this little corner of land, the original home of the Qayqayt nation, of the Coast Salish family of original peoples. And since it was built, in 1891, it has been a place of refuge and welcome. I once heard someone say, “St. Barnabas — that’s where the poor people go to church.” What words of blessing!
Mary and Joseph, travelling to Joseph’s home town of Bethlehem did not go about in grand style, or stay in the fanciest hotels. Of course not! We have heard the story so often that we’ve forgotten perhaps, about how terrifying and wretched their time of travel must have been. But if we are to recover, and preserve, the true sense of Christmas, we can’t simply think of the nativity as a sweet story. God comes to us in the most vulnerable way, to invite us to open our hearts to love, to compassion.
St. Barnabas, a place of refuge for the poor, the poor in spirit, the rich in love. Those who have been told they don’t belong: the refugees fleeing violence, persecution, hatred, those who have been told that they aren’t right because of who they love, or what they believe, the lonely, those struggling with addiction or health issues. God loves us all. We welcome all.
This Sunday, the third in Advent, we celebrate JOY. Not just happiness, or contentment, but a kind of deep joy in knowing that we are loved … and then going out into our neighbourhood and being that Joy with one another, our neighbours, and perfect strangers.
I look forward to gathering on Sunday to sing and to pray, to break the bread of life with one another and to remember the blessings we are on this holy earth.
Thanks be to God.