There are of course many film versions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. I believe I have seen most of them and enjoyed them all, as this is one of the greatest fictional tales about Christmas and what the message of Christmas really means in the hearts of people. The other night I was very delighted to watch a more recent version starring the late, great actor George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. Mr. Scott gave a wonderful performance and his transformation in the final scenes was remarkable. It was as though his whole face had changed and in his eyes you could see both joy and sorrow. Joy in the fact that he had finally found what Christmas is really all about and sorrow in that it had taken him so long to do so. In the end he was a changed man and you could just see the spirit, I believe the Holy Spirit, radiating from the light in his eyes.
The real Christmas story is of course that Jesus was born unto us and the Christmas message is, in part, that His birth is meant to transform us, and in so doing transform the world through love. As we journey in this season of Advent towards the light of Bethlehem let us all be aware of the incredible invitation God is giving to us by the birth of Jesus. God is inviting all of us to dream out loud again and place all our hopes and dreams in His hands. The Christ child was and still is a new start for the world, a new start that can bring the peace, joy and love God wants for us all. God is inviting all of us to let in the Holy Spirit and be wonderstruck once again by the fact that God so loved the world He sent Jesus to be among is and to renew our spirit of hope and open the door of possibilities.
This past year at St John’s has been a very significant one in the history of the Parish. In the summer we retired our debt and started a new course to financial stability and growth. We also hosted our New Bishop at the regional joint service in the spring and she was very impressed with what we are doing as a congregation here at the church and in the community. We launched our new website in September, and we have had many positive comments and literally hundreds of visits to the site. As well, we celebrated our 115th anniversary in October and with the help of numerous volunteers it was a huge success with over two hundred people attending both the service and the after service luncheon.
I think it is remarkable to consider that Christmas has been celebrated at St John’s now for one hundred and fifteen years. I think of all the people in all of the different times and what worshipping here on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day must have meant to them. During the First World War and again in World War Two I think of the parents and others who must have prayed for a safe return home for a loved one. I think of the people in the Great Depression who must have come here and found inspiration in the fact the God loved them. I think of all the families who came here even though the weather outside was truly frightful because they would never miss Christmas at St John’s. I think of all the children who over the years have touched the crèche and felt safe because they were reminded that Jesus loves them. I think of all of us today and I am so proud and thrilled to be a part of this great tradition.
As the birth of Jesus renews our spirit of hope and opens the door of possibilities St John’s looks to a very bright future. I would like to wish you and all those you love a very Merry Christmas. I know that the love and joy I find at Christmas transforms me every year. May we all in our own way find the Christ child this year and begin again to dream out loud.
The Rev. Patrick Blaney