Dear Beloved Family,

The countdown is on! When you were little, did you ride a wave of excitement as Christmas approached? Trees coming inside, presents, special food, people we don’t see all the time . . . and church, lots of church! Are you filled with expectation now? Or has the season become a crazy-making month? Many people find this the hardest time of year. So now as a little church community let us draw closer together, and gather around the fire of faith, the warmth of the promise of the Good News.

Ever since I became a priest my own family, my children, and now my grandchildren — and Patti — have had to know that they don’t get Mom on Christmas. Priests sink into this season in a different way — how can we best tell this sacred story, in the midst of the world’s Christmas chaos?

How can we focus on what really matters? At St. Barnabas we offer the story of Jesus’ incarnation — God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, coming in human form to our broken world– both on Christmas Eve, with our two evening services, and Christmas Day with our giant neighbourhood meal. St. Barnabas: a place to pray and serve.

At 6 pm on Christmas Eve, we will gather with our dear church-mates from Shiloh United and present a Pageant. This is a not-so-rehearsed event, but a chance to live out and explore with fun and families — what does it mean to welcome the Christ-child into our hearts and lives?

At 8 pm on Christmas Eve, we will gather in a more traditional Anglican service, with song and prayer, and holy communion while a thousand, thousand candles light the evening and warm our hearts. The story of Christmas is about love — love in the midst of bleakness, cruelness, or just plain consumerism and busy-ness. Our God cannot be held in Heaven, but comes to us to break in to the hardness or the loneliness of our hearts.

Then on Christmas Day Chef Amber Anderson is cooking us her traditional meal: everything will be served, from turkey to goodies, and we’ll be welcoming our neighbours. This is an all-hands-on-deck affair, or just come and eat event. This is a meal for parishioners too, so we hope you will drop by. If you want to help out, please give the office a call, and we’ll get you on a serving team.

AND — I am getting ahead of myself. This coming Sunday, December 22, at our regular 10 am service we will mark Advent Four with a service of Lessons and Carols. Because St. Barnabas is such an amazing place, an uncommon place, we will be offering the readings in seven — or maybe eight — languages. That is who we are: the Anglican church in the world, and in New Westminster, whether we speak Spanish, Tagalog, Ndebele/Zulu or Tamil. And we love to sing. We will be singing some traditional Christmas carols, and some chilling and beautiful ones that you won’t hear in other places.

My heart grows a little bigger every Christmas, especially when I see new and old friends making their way into the church courtyard, and up our worn stairs. I hope to see you! And may the blessing of Jesus’ love, Mary’s wisdom, and Joseph’s courage be upon you in these days.