Lynne Tovell
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Advent to Christmas in St. Andrews                                                                    

Although Advent began on December 2, 2018, preparations began far ahead, in order to ensure everything was in place for our journey from Advent to Christmas in St. Andrew’s. Kelly gifted us with the Christmas edition of “Connecting” which got us on the road from Advent to Christmas!   Our first event was the Pot Luck/Christmas Tree Lighting on December 1 in the Parish Hall – where do we get a tree for this to happen indoors this year? –amessage in the bulletin brought us a donated tree! Audrey and Doreen opened the festivities with the Lighting of our Advent Candle along with a message for the children (who lit one candle at each table). The dinner was spectacular (now, I have cooked turnips for a zillion years, but Barb’s turnip dish gave us a new look at turnips).  One thing you can count on is a wonderful dinner when St. Andrew’s cooks bring forth their Pot Luck goodies! The singing began (very heartily, I must say), under the direction of Russ and Alix; the Christmas Tree was lit, and then came the delicious hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. An e-mail received by Noreen Dec. 15th …..Advent through the eyes of a child…“Logan did an assignment at school yesterday on his favourite part of Christmas and he drew us singing Christmas Carols at Church with the tree lighting and wrote….. ‘Because most all of my whole entire family was there and we had yummy food and treats and sang Christmas Carols and had hot chocolate with some really nice strangers’.” We thank Sharon and her team for organizing a great evening. Christmas Shopping was made available to the neighbourhood through the organizing of St. Andrew’s Christmas Vendor Sale – great vendors, great articles, great participation – thanks everyone! On the first Sunday of Advent, December 2nd, the Advent Lessons and Carols Service took place at the 10:00 a.m. Service.  Rev. Phil Barnett, Layreaders - Jonathan, Lora Lynne, John, and Servers - Eva, Sydney, David, Ryker, and Alix read the Lessons (it was awesome to see the young gang as a major part of the Lesson Reading). Russ and the Choir provided beautiful anthems and led the congregation in the Advent music. White Gift Sunday on December 9th gave Susan and her team a great base for food products and gifts for the hampers - the Sunday School presented their gifts during the 10:00 a.m. Processional Hymn. The Hamper Project took place in the Parish Hall this year, and from what I hear it was very successful - a great job Susan and team. Souper Sunday (sponsored by the Vestry) gave our soup cookers the opportunity to strut their culinary talent.  A delicious variety was available to parishioners following the 10:00 a.m. Service. The Blue Christmas Service was very quiet this year – it is a very peaceful service, appreciated by those attending with a reflective time of gentle music and candles. On Sunday December 16, we enjoyed the gift of Christmas music by our Sunday School.  Thank you to Audrey, Linda, Tiffany and our youngest singers!  The children decorated cookies this morning and provided the goodies for the Coffee Hour. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols later that evening was spectacular!  The warmest of greetings by Noreen set the pace for a joyous evening.  The Brass Quintet of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles was celebrating its Twenty-fifth Anniversary with us this year and they were top notch. The music – with thanks to Russ and the Choir with its anthems was beautiful. It was a wonderful opportunity for the congregation to join in the singing of Carols – especially the “Hallelujah Chorus” – a highlight of the evening. The Lesson Readers once again delivered their messages so well -  thank you to Doreen, Noreen, Connor, George, Nina, Judy, Sue, Janet; and for most of us, it was our first opportunity to hear Bishop Woodcroft. The Reception following the Service was wonderful – with George and Doreen presenting good wishes (along with a yummy cake) to the Brass Quintet, Christmas cakes, short breads, and John’s delicious cider. And then came Christmas Eve…. Three beautiful Services, the first being geared to the children and very well attended with a “full house” – this is always a delightful time with the youngest in total excitement with promises of wondrous things to happen that night. The early evening Service was beautiful with the Choir in attendance, again offering the gift of beautiful music along with Marguerite’s awesome solo.  To see the light begin to stream from the front of the Church as the Servers lit the candles of the parishioners gives the feeling of Christ’s light spreading throughout St. Andrew’s – a gift of peace from above. The later Candlelight Service was beautiful also, enhanced by the singing of Mike Thomson and a duet with Mike and Russ during the Candle Lighting.  Again there was a feeling of caring, peace, and gentleness surrounding St. Andrew’s. We were gifted with the presence of Rev. Phillip Barnett and Rev. Jim Kirkpatrick during the period of absence of Raymond while he is on medical leave, and…we thank John and Noreen for handling the “priestly” chores during our Morning Prayer Services in December. The Christmas Parties enjoyed by members of the Quilters, Over Sixties, Altar Guild, Men’s Group, Choir, Lay Readers, Sunday School, were all happy with great friends, food, and friendship. And finally, the Church looked absolutely beautiful….for which we give thanks to the Altar Guild. Their planning early in November with the Poinsettia Program, the Christmas dressings in the Church, gave an atmosphere of love and caring for this wonderful Parish of St. Andrew. We also thank Ken, Harv, and Greg for their help.   It was a wonderful December, for which we give thanks to God and continue to ask for his grace. “God Bless Us, Everyone”