This Week at St. Stephen’s–December 18, 2011

THE EVERYDAY GIFT

This is the time of year many of us find ourselves rushing around picking up last minute gifts for those we love. We had such high hopes. But selection is diminishing, delivery deadlines are looming or have passed, and we are quickly running out of time. Is there not a better way?

It may be a helpful reminder—though perhaps not so much for this year—to view Christmas as a season celebrating something that actually happens all year long. The spiritual centre-piece of Christmas is the coming of God into our midst in the form of a little baby. This baby was to be a sign to us and to all the nations that God is with us … and not just at Christmas, but always, “to the end of the age”.

And if God is always with us, loving us, manifest not only the worship and ministry of the church, but in the people who populate our lives, then it is always appropriate to celebrate this gift by exchanging gifts with those we love. Christmas shopping could be a year-round activity. We travel and see something that makes us think of a loved one … and we buy it, right then and there. Even though it’s February!

But here’s the catch. We buy it, but we put it away, awaiting the day when our gift will be joined by others in a joyful outpouring of love. We celebrate once a year, but the gift we receive every day.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–December 11, 2011

THINK BIG.  ACT BOLD.

As we wrap up our Open Doors capital campaign—closing in on our $1.1 million goal for the renewal of our church buildings—plans continue to develop for the renovations themselves. This past
week we received approval from the Diocese to hire an architect to assist us with detailed drawings. These will be presented to the congregation on Sunday, January 22, 2012, two weeks prior to our AGM, at which time we will be asked formally to approve the plans.

This phase of our renewal project will make all three levels of our church buildings fully accessible with the installation of an elevator and outdoor ramps. New barrier-free washrooms will be built,
enough to accommodate crowds of up to 400 people. The chapel and sanctuary will be updated to permit a wider range of uses, from worship to musical performances to art shows to yoga classes. We will also upgrade our “behind-the-walls” mechanical and electrical services.

Several aspects of the newly designed space will require us to balance our personal preferences with the new possibilities we are creating. For instance, will we want to design a special “apron stage” to accommodate those who prefer to kneel to receive their communion, or should we leave the space as open as possible? How important is it to have our “favourite pew”, if chairs would be both more flexible and more comfortable?

Change is both scary and exciting. But our motto has been “Think big. Act bold.” So be prepared to be amazed!