Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.


“If you are poor, you are not likely to live long. “

     ~Nelson Mandela


     Who is God’s family? Where is God’s home? In the church we often speak of our home parish as a family. Many of us grew up thinking of the church building as God’s house. But the readings for this day call us to anticipate that Emmanuel might understand kinship and home in different ways. As we approach Christmas, which in our culture is increasingly a celebration of hearth and home more than a public festival, the inclusiveness of God’s promise rings out from these readings.

     The temple often stood in the imagination of Israel as the “house of God,” but in 1 Samuel God expresses reservations before the temple is even built. The promise made to David is not about the building. Instead of the expected places of wealth and power, God chooses to dwell in a people instead of a “house of cedar” (2 Sam. 7:2, 7).

     So if God is dwelling in a people, who is included in that promise? Although no one disputes that Jesus is born of the “house of David,” Luke’s gospel stresses Mary’s lowliness instead of her bloodlines, reminding us that Christ became flesh in the most unlikely circumstances. Later in Luke’s gospel, when someone mentions his family to Jesus, he says his family includes all “who hear the word of God and do it” (8:21). In today’s gospel we see Mary acting out that definition of family.


    We live on the brink every day. We stand on the threshold between this world and the next one. We live and move between the ordinary and divine, between the mundane and the mystery. Too often, we forget to look up and see the angels in our living room. We forget that the love we give and live is a sign of eternity, God with us, right now. We forget that company is coming.

     Luke tells us that God’s favor came to a girl, an ordinary girl. It might have been you or your daughter; it might have been the girl down the street or your grandchild. But the messenger of God came and greeted her and said, “The Lord is with you.” What a gift and a promise: Emmanuel, God is with us.

     We light this candle with love in our hearts for the promise of proximity, the nearness of God. Even when we forget to listen, to lean into that presence, God is as close as our own breath. This, in a confused and confusing world, is a love that passes all understanding. It is the love that knows that company is coming.

     O Come, O Come Emmanuel.


We are waiting on you, God. We are still waiting.
The darkness is deeper, but look! The star is beginning to shine.
The everlasting light is creeping closer.

Hope is in the air. Peace is promised. Joy is on the tips of our tongues.
Love is coming. Love divine, all loves excelling.

We are waiting on love. And Love is waiting on us.

CHILDREN’S SONG   With One Voice #744  Soon And Very Soon


Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. With your abundant grace and might, free us from the sin that would obstruct your mercy, that willingly we may bear your redeeming love to all the world, for you live and reign, one God, now and forever.  Amen.


We are not alone; we live in God’s world.

We believe in God:  who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:  to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.


     Did you know that I have lived in three different cities and never moved out of my house?!  It’s true!  When my parents built our house, we were out in the country – about as far from the city of Ottawa as Morris is from Winnipeg.  We were one of three houses on a grid road.  We had a mailbox at the end of our driveway and our address was Box 241, R. R. #1, Orleans, Ontario. 

        When I was seven, construction started on Blackburn Hamlet.  They rezoned everything as construction progressed and our address changed to 61 Bearbrooke Road East, Ottawa, Ontario.  Did you notice that the city changed?  Our house never moved, yet now we were living in Ottawa instead of Orleans.  But it wasn’t over…

     Once the suburb of Blackburn Hamlet was complete, and those who plan cities realized that Ottawa was now too big, everything was rezoned again and our address became 61 Eastpark Drive, Gloucester, Ontario – which it has remained to this day, even though my dad has sold the house and moved.

     See?!   What did I tell you!  I have lived in three cities and never left my house or patch of ground! 

I think that is pretty cool!

     When you think about it, Jesus moved around a fair bit in his life.  He was born in Bethlehem in someone else’s barn, and then when he was around 2 years old, his family moved to somewhere in Egypt because King Herod wanted to kill Jesus.  After Herod died, Jesus’ family moved back to Nazareth, where Joseph grew up, and stayed there until Jesus was an adult.  After that, it seemed that Jesus travelled around the area staying with friends and the families of his disciples.  From what we read in the scriptures; Jesus did not own a home.  So, where did he live?

     It would seem that wherever Jesus was, someone offered him a place to stay, and that became his home and his family until the next place.  That may sound like a lonely life to some of us, but when you think about it, Jesus was so comfortable being who he was and doing what God wanted him to do, that he was never lonely.  He was the type of person who loved everyone and was comfortable moving from place to place, thankful for the generosity of others.  Not everyone could be satisfied and continue to be trusting with that kind of life.

     What about now?  If Jesus is with God, how can we say that Jesus is with us here and now no matter what?!  Jesus doesn’t need a house because the Holy Spirit is given to each of us and Jesus has a place in each of our hearts.  It’s kind of like when I was growing up.  It doesn’t matter if the city changes, if friends change, if we change, our spirit is always connected to Jesus’ spirit.  Wherever we are, Jesus is.  Now that is cool!    




     No person should ever be persecuted because of their religion or culture.  No one should have to struggle daily to find enough food, a place to sleep, or simply a place to exist, yet that has happened repeatedly to the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.  For decades they faced religious and ethnic persecution, which escalated in 2017.  They were tortured and killed in Myanmar, and their homes and villages were burned to the ground.

     Almost a million escaped to the town of Cox’s Bazar in nearby Bangladesh to what became, in November 2018, the largest refugee camp in the world.

     ACT Alliance, a Mission & Service global ecumenical partner, is on the ground at the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp distributing humanitarian aid in the form of food, shelter, materials, warm clothing, hygiene kits, safe water and emergency medical help.

     ACT alliance also hosted the organization Clowns Without Borders to share the importance of hygiene in a fun way.  The Cox’s Bazar camp is located in a floodplain; mix that with almost a million people and the result can be a variety of diseases, some of them life threatening.  Thanks to ACT Alliance, many of the Rohingya refugees are able to keep disease at bay by using the skills they were taught and the hygiene kits they received.

     Through our gift for Mission & Service, lives are truly saved every day in Cox’s Bazar camp.

     If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much!  If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith.  Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.


Compassionate God, as Mary embraced the power of your words sent through the mouth of the angel, Gabriel, so too may we embrace the power of your words as we hear them read and respond with equal trust and faith to your call to serve you.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

Instead of David building a house (temple) for the Lord, the Lord promises to establish David’s house (dynasty) forever. Centuries later, after the Babylonian exile, no king sat on the throne. Even then, however, the people of Israel remembered this promise and continued to hope for a king, the messiah, the Lord’s anointed.

1Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” 3Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”
  4But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 5Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” 8Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 16Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Psalm: Luke 1:46b-55

R:  You, Lord, have lifted up the lowly. (Lk. 1:52)

46bMy soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
  47my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for you, Lord, have looked with favor on your lowly servant.
  From this day all generations will call me blessed:
49you, the Almighty, have done great things for me
  and holy is your name.
50You have mercy on those who fear you,
  from generation to generation. R
51You have shown strength with your arm
  and scattered the proud in their conceit,
52casting down the mighty from their thrones
  and lifting up the lowly.
53You have filled the hungry with good things
  and sent the rich away empty.
54You have come to the aid of your servant Israel,
  to remember the promise of mercy,
55the promise made to our forbears,
  to Abraham and his children forever. R

Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27

Paul closes his letter to the Romans by praising God because in the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ God has revealed the promised, divine plan of salvation for all humanity. Paul proclaims this gospel of Christ in order to bring about the obedience of faith among all nations.

25Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—27to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

In this annunciation, Luke makes clear that God comes with good news for ordinary people (Mary) from little-known places (Nazareth). This king will not be born to royalty in a palace, but to common folk in a stall. Here Luke highlights the role of the Spirit, a special emphasis in his gospel.

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.



She is probably the most renowned women in the world.  People look to her for guidance, mercy, compassion and strength.  She has been depicted in virtually every art form.  She is a focus for prayer, an intercessor for the sinner.   She gave birth to a boy who became, arguably for some, the most famous human being in history.  Yet, do we really know who she was, where she came from, what kind of life she had?  Does any of this even matter?


It is impossible to write an historical sketch of Mary’s life, so inadequate are the data in the gospels and so unreliable are the traditions of the church.  Such data we have are contained in stories whose purpose is not historical narration but theological affirmation:  they declare that God has come to humanity in a child born of a virgin, that this child may redeem them from sin and death and lead them into God’s blessed realm.  Mary is depicted as the instrument of God’s gracious purpose, the “handmaid of the Lord.”


We know very little concerning Mary’s background.  She was a devout Jew, apparently living in Nazareth at the time when she conceived.  Since the genealogies in Matthew and Luke are Joseph’s, we do not know whether she belonged to the house and lineage of King David, although the angel’s words in Luke would at least imply that the early church believed that she was so descended.  A second-century writing identifies her parents as Anna and Joachim.


How early belief in the Virgin Birth arose in the church is impossible to say.  Peter, in the sermons of Acts, and Paul in his letters never mention it, if they knew of it.  In fact, in Galations 4:4 Paul writes that Jesus was born of a “woman”, when he might easily have used the more particular word “virgin”.  Mark and John do not refer to the Virgin Birth.  Outside Matthew and Luke it appears nowhere in the New Testament.  Welcome to another mystery of God.


I recall having a discussion, or perhaps it was closer to an argument, with someone who had a real difficulty regarding Mary’s easy acceptance and compliance to the news that she would bear God’s child.  “How could God do something so horrible to a young girl–put her through such humiliation and disgrace!  You can’t tell me she had any other choice!  She probably accepted it because she knew that if God had decided upon this, she didn’t have the option of saying no!”  I replied that my understanding of God was that God is all-knowing, that God knows what choices I will make before I even make them.  Therefore, would it not make sense that God would know Mary’s heart and know that she had the strength to say yes and that her faith would sustain her?  Funny, I don’t recall the end of the conversation.


Another discussion I had regarding Mary was with a person who belonged to the Roman Catholic church.  Naively I assumed that the term Virgin Birth referred to the fact that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus.  Now this conversation took place a number of years ago, so I probably have some of the facts mixed up.  This person told me that I was incorrect in my assumption.  I was informed that Mary never consummated her relationship with Joseph and that she had no other children.  Now I was really confused.  So when I did some research, things started to fall into place.  Here is what I discovered:


The Roman Catholic Church has made much of Mary’s response to the angelic announcement, as recorded in Luke, “How can this be, since I have no husband?”  They point out that the present tense expresses an ongoing action and therefore means that Mary was then under a vow of perpetual virginity.  The marriage of Mary and Joseph was therefore never consummated and the so-called brothers and sisters of Jesus were really his cousins.  In response to the objection that the ideal of perpetual virginity was unknown in Judaism, they point to the Essenes, a religious sect of Judaism who priests practiced celibacy.  In addition, they cite Paul’s endorsement of celibacy.


Now, if this is the case, then why did Mary become betrothed to Joseph at all, if she already had vowed perpetual virginity?  Lacking solid evidence to the contrary, one can only assume that the betrothal was the customary first stage in a relationship meant to be consummated.  In Luke, Jesus is called Mary’s “first-born son”.  In Matthew it states that Joseph “took his wife, but did not know her until she had borne a son.”  These passages would hardly have been written in this way by persons who believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity. 


The more I read the scriptures, the more I become aware of how few references to Mary there are.  Furthermore, she is trying to be a mother to a child that is wiser and more adult than his young years could possibly be.  Jesus seems to be aware of who he is and his calling by the age of twelve.  It would appear that Mary probably did not fully realize this until the resurrection.  As well, if one looks closely at the texts, it becomes evident that Jesus seemed to distance himself from his blood relations.  “Anyone who does the will of God is my mother, sister and brother.”    


There is no adoration of Mary in the New Testament.  In fact, Jesus expressly warned against it in Luke.  Mary takes her place in the New Testament as one of the servants of God through whom God’s redemptive purposes towards humanity were fulfilled.


The Mary of the New Testament represents all that was finest in Jewish womanhood and motherhood.  Her deep spiritual sensitivity; her purity, faith, and obedience to the divine will; her scrupulous attention to the training of her son in the religious traditions of his people; her loyalty to him, as evidenced by her presence at the Cross, even when she did not fully understand him–all mark her as a person of remarkable qualities.  Who she really was, what really happened, ultimately, does not matter.  What matters are the stories that speak to these qualities and to the realization that God honoured her as a person of strength, integrity and faith.  It is fitting, then, that we too honour her, not just as the mother of our Lord, but as a model for servant hood. 


May the Spirit of Christ fill us so that we too may live our lives in obedience to the will of God.  Amen.


HYMN OF THE MONTH  With One Voice  #636  Before The Marvel Of This Night


God of power and might, fulfill your promise and come quickly to this weary world. Hear our prayers for everyone in need.

Gracious God, all generations call you blessed. In this holy season we pray for our neighbours of other denominations and faiths.  Inspire the faith of their people. Cultivate understanding among us and strengthen us in love and service to our community. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Creator God, you scatter the proud. Everything we have belongs first to you. Bless and protect the seas, mountains, plains, forests, skies, and soils that surround us. Give us humility as we tend them. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Righteous God, you humble the powerful and lift up the lowly. We pray for the leaders of all nations, that they amplify the voices of people in need. Guide all people entrusted with leadership, to create societies in which everyone can flourish. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Compassionate God, you fill the hungry with good things and send the rich away empty. Nourish those who lack access to adequate food and nutrition. Bless the work of advocates, community organizers, and food pantries. Encourage others to provide for their neighbours in need. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Healing God, you pour out mercy to all who cry out to you. Surround everyone in need of healing in body, mind, or spirit with your tender presence.  We pray for Mike Froese, Brooke Alexiuk, Tracy Skoglund, Carolyn & Douglas; the family of Gordon Dreger; Debbie & Dwayne; Nicole; Sandy Lange, Matthew Grossman, Elaine Hancox, Gordon Fulford, and the family of Dave Martins. Ease their suffering and support them when they struggle. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Eternal God, you are faithful to the promises you made to our forebears. We give thanks for the ministry of servants past who organized, planned, dreamed, encouraged, and reached out as they served you. We give thanks for the bold leadership of female leaders in our own time. Inspire others with their steadfast witness. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Draw near to us, O God, and receive our prayers for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.




The Creator of the stars bless your Advent waiting, the long-expected Savior fill you with love, the unexpected Spirit guide your journey, ☩ now and forever.


SENDING SONG  Voices United #62  Once In Royal David’s City




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