Rev’d Karen’s Christmas Letter 2019
I experienced something different this Advent. There I was, taking in the sights and sounds near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on a warm sunny day when suddenly something caught my eye. There outside his shop, was a man putting up a Christmas tree! As I looked around the market, I noticed more Christmas greenery and lights. They seemed to be popping up everywhere in the Christian Quarter. This should not have seemed out of the ordinary to me … after all, the Christmas décor had already shown up in the stores back home … in some places even before Hallowe’en! There is nothing unusual about shopkeepers putting up Christmas decorations in preparation for their Christmas sales, but something felt different in Jerusalem. It was different from what I was used to. I could have pinned it on the lovely weather. There I was after all, at the end of November, wandering around like it was the middle of June … no snow, no sleet, no ice … but that wasn’t it. As I watched the Christmas decorations going up, it occurred to me that the Jerusalem shopkeepers were observing the Christian calendar. It was two days before the beginning of Advent, and they were preparing for the season. That was the difference! They hadn’t decorated their shops the day after All Saints with ‘blingy’ high-end Christmas décor like we are accustomed to seeing in Canada. As I watched the shopkeepers prepare for Advent, I thought of St. John’s so far away on the other side of the world and how you would also be preparing for the first Sunday of Advent. I also thought about how this would be the last Christmas celebration as The Parish of St. John’s. In the new year, St. John’s and Trinity churches will be established as one new parish. It will be a new beginning for the people of both Trinity and St. John’s. Some things will be familiar, and some things will be unfamiliar, just as the preparations for Advent/Christmas in Jerusalem seemed both familiar and unfamiliar, but no matter how unfamiliar things may be — the One born in Bethlehem so long ago, Jesus Christ remains the same yesterday, today and forever.
The light of the Christmas star to you,
The warmth of home and hearth to you,
The cheer and goodwill of friends to you,
The hope of a childlike heart to you,
The joy of a thousand angels to you,
The love of the Son, and God’s peace to you.
May you and your loved ones have a blessed and peaceful Christmas,
Reverend Karen Nelles