An Advent/Christmas Message from Treena Duncan

‘On this darkest day of the year, I offer prayers of thanksgiving for each you’

Also, Reminder of Current COVID-19 Restrictions for December 2021

Today is Solstice, the shortest, darkest day of the year. As many of you know, the early Christians intentionally chose that we would celebrate Christ’s birth as the northern hemisphere gradually returns to light and longer days.

The word, Solstice, comes from the Latin, ‘sol’ for sun and ‘sistere’ to stand still, which together means ‘sun stand still.’ As the Almanac explains, for a few days prior to and after the solstice, the sun’s path only changes slightly. Its noontime elevation changes so slightly that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same or stand still.

In this wintertime where the sun appears to stand still, so we have been invited in Advent to take time to be still. One version of Psalm 62 begins with, “On God alone, my soul in stillness waits.” In Advent, we wait upon God to come into our midst while knowing God is already with us. We wait for God’s kin-dom to come about here on earth, where God’s justice and love reigns.

In stillness, in resting in God, we renew our strength that comes from God’s steadfast love.

Yet at the same time, our waiting for Christ to come again in our midst is an active waiting.

We know that ultimately this COVID-19 virus will be defeated. Yet as we wait for God’s acting, —as churches and ministries in Chinook Winds — you have adapted and pivoted again and again to minister in new ways. You have encouraged each other to be vaccinated and put in place protocols to offer ministry in safe ways.

So many of us celebrated when Canada’s House of Commons and then the Senate voted to ban LGBTQ+ conversion therapy earlier this month. Yet, that vote came about because of much active waiting. It was the faithful persistence of many individuals and affirming communities of faith who put themselves in the line of attacks and criticism, forging a path forward, envisioning a world where all people are valued as their true and whole selves.

After so many of you wrote to the Alberta Government about the K-6 curriculum, including the Chinook Winds Regional Council, it was heartening to hear Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announce last week that the curriculum’s implementation is delayed. We were concerned that the curriculum lacked indigenous perspectives and didn’t fully respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action regarding education for reconciliation. Yet while we are encouraged by this news, we know that this is but one small step along the path towards reconciliation which we choose to walk.

On this darkest day of the year, I offer prayers of thanksgiving for each of you across Chinook Winds Regions for your faithful witness. I am thankful for the volunteers of Chinook Winds Regional Council including the regional representatives, working groups and Executive members as well as the regional staff. I am thankful for the dedicated laypeople and ministry personnel of the Chinook Winds Communities of faith.

Each of you continues to choose to walk God’s path of light. Together, may we reflect much divine light into a darkened world.

I pray that in this coming season of Christmas, you will be nurtured by times of stillness and joy to be renewed in strength in God’s steadfast love.
With blessings,

Treena Duncan,
Executive Minister, Chinook Winds & Pacific Mountain Regions

P.S. One last but important administrative note: With the Omicron variant, we are seeing COVID-19 numbers doubling every two to three days across Canada. I would like to remind you that in Alberta, we are required to keep worship attendance at one-third capacity with people social distancing and wearing masks. Even if your community of faith is checking for vaccinations, churches are still required to be at one-third capacity because worship doesn’t qualify for the restrictions exemption program. Our office has received a lot of questions on the latter lately.