Advent Message and Executive Report from Chinook Winds Presider Vicki McPhee
‘Do not be afraid,’ the Angel Gabriel said unto Mary, ‘you have found favour with God.’ Luke 1.30 (NRSV)
As we enter into the Season of Advent—a season of waiting and expectation—we step forward with caution. Just days before the start of Advent, the provincial government announced that Alberta was in a state of a public health emergency. All social gatherings had to cease and no one who is not from our household is permitted in our homes. In unprecedented times, in an unprecedented year, this announcement came as a shock to many Albertans. We are being called upon to reconsider our holiday and family traditions—to not gather in the ways we are used to doing at this time of the year. Things feel somewhat uncertain and unsettling.
The angel Gabriel appeared, not only to Mary, but also to Joseph, and told them both, ‘Be not afraid.’ It occurs to me, as we begin the Advent journey to the birth of the Christ Child, that once the angel gave reassurance through his message to not be afraid, the angel left them. Left them to move through the next nine months wondering, I’m sure, each step of the way if everything was going to be okay. Surely Mary fretted about whether her family would accept the unexpected pregnancy and whether Joseph would marry her. Joseph might have fretted whether his standing would be affected by taking Mary to be his wife and whether he could raise a child that he knew was not his. They both likely worried about the birth and about the safety and health of both mother and child.
It seems to me that Mary and Joseph had to live each day of her pregnancy feeling uncertain and unsettled. How could they not? The angel told them, ‘Be not afraid’ but he did not say it was going to be easy. He did not tell them they had nothing to worry. But he reminded them that God was with them and nothing is impossible with God. Be not afraid.
As we move through this 2020 Advent season, remember, we are not alone. God is with us. Continue to reach out to friends, family and people of your community. Use technology to remind your people that they are not alone. Take a breath. Have a nap. Be kind—to others and to yourself. You are not alone. Be not afraid.
December Report from the Chinook Winds Executive
The Chinook Winds Executive have met twice in the past month via Zoom. The new members to the Executive were welcomed and the new Presiding Officer was selected—me! It is the policy of the Executive to select its Presiding Officer each year. Helen Reed was continuing in the role for this next pastoral year but then found herself being called to a pastoral charge outside of our Region. Helen has been a faithful and dedicated Presiding Officer for Chinook Winds and I am honoured to be following in her footsteps.
The Executive has continued its monitoring of COVID-19 in the Region and updating the recommendations for communities of faith. The finances were presented. Because the Region did not meet in person for the annual meeting and because of travel and meeting restrictions, expenses for 2020 are lower than expected. It was decided that, due to the exceptional times that we are experiencing, the 2021 Regional Assessments for all communities of faith will be put to zero.
As we go forward with our monthly Executive meetings, I will strive to give a short summary of the discussions and decisions of the Executive. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have questions. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know if you prefer to chat on the phone and I can call you. Blessings on your Advent journey and Merry Christmas!