Archive for January 2011

A Little Different Christmas

I write this morning almost at the mid-point in January, 2011, already. The time has flown by and today I leave my Sudbury home following a great post-Christmas break, to head back to Timmins. As I look back over the Christmas we have just celebrated, I recognize that for me it has been a little different this year.

The week before Christmas was busy with work at the Synod office as we tried to get as much done before the holidays as we could accomplish. With the new financial cut-backs we unfortunately had to say goodbye to Suzy, our receptionist and communications officer. We will surely miss her. One by one the staff departed for their personal holiday activities and the office was closed.

I departed Timmins for Foleyet and Chapleau to provide Christmas srrvices. The trip started out badly when I realized as I reached the edge of the city traffic that I had forgotten my wallet and needed to go all the way back to Bishopstope to retrieve it. Thankfully I was early leaving so had the time. On the drive to Foleyet I encountered some light, freezing rain, but made the trip in good time. The rain created some beautiful Christmas-card scenes on the surrounding trees.

The little church at Foleyet was filled for the 4 pm Christmas service. St. John's had been my first parish some 35 year ago so it was great fun to see some old friends in the congregation, now with grandchildren. We even had an organist so enjoyed singing the carols and ended the celebration with everyone holding a candle and signing "Silent Night"

I was worried for the drive on to Chapleau as it was now dark. The highway was good though, actually wet, and I encountered no more freezing rain. Just outside town however I encountered fog and as I entered town, with the shops now closed and literally no one present on the main street, it was a surreal experience driving in the heavy fog. Certainly not what one would expect on Christmas Eve in a northern community!

Chapleau is my home community and the large St. John's Church has struggled in recent years to keep its doors open. What a wonderful surprise it was that the old church was filled by the time the celebration began. The full church unnnerved the Layreader somewhat as she confessed her nervousness. I assured her that I was far more nervous than she was because I reconized so many friends of my youth who came out to meet the Bishop, with grandchildren in tow! Christmas at home was a wonderful celebration, even with the canned music!! I had not been in my home church for Christmas since 1974. It was good to see family and friends come out and to renew old acquaintenances.

My son, Andrew, met me in Chapleau and we overnighted at my sister's beautiful home outside town on Borden Lake, which was so beautifully decorated for the celebration. Before getting back on the road Christmas morning it was a treat to share the grandcildren's excitement under the tree.

   

Christmas morning, Borden Lake, Chapleau

By 8 am Andrew & I headed off for our Sudbury home, travelling through some beautful bush, coloured with God's own frosty paintbrush. Our own Christmas began as we were welcomed by Ruth and Stephen, Grandma and Bert and a very excited dog at the door of our home at noon. Gifts were opened, brunch was served and a brief time to rest before our traditional Christmas dinner with family and friends.

Christmas dinner at home

A few days of break for me were taken with other family events. We enjoyed family visiting from Ottawa and London and were overjoyed to meet the newest member of the family, Liam Lochlan, born just a few days before Christmas.

Me & my great nephew Liam

New Year's Eve saw us all back in Timmins for the "Bishop's Levee" at Bishopstope. It was the first one in 30 years and the crowd was small, but it was a delight to  welcome friends to herald the new year. We are indebted to the volunteers who provided the goodies and good-naturedly poured the tea and coffee. Thanks too for all the gifts received. The next day I was priviledge to officiate at Schumacher and South Porcupine's celebration of the "Naming of Jesus" .

Bishop Eddie Marsh serving tea at the Levee

The first week of this new year has been spent at home in Sudbury, getting a bit of a break before what appears to be a busy winter schedule. Not much time was spet resting, however, as the week included 2 teleconference calls and no less that 80 e-mails to answer and numerous phone calls. It was actually a very good experience working out of what is now my Sudbury office, which I intend to do for at least a couple of days each week, when not travelling in the further reaches of the Diocese. It works quite well.

Me & Anne Germond, Rector of Sudbury's Church of the Ascension.

Our Christmas celebrations ended with the honour of presenting the story of the Diocese at Sudbury's Church of the Ascension on Sunday, January 9th in what I am calling my "first deputation experience". The congregation was wonderful in their welcome and their generosity. Thanks so much. Then Sunday night we hosted a dinner party with good friends, including no less that an half dozen young adults and former Servers.

The decorations are down and almost all put away. It was a little different Christmas this year but still filled with the joy of of the season. I hope and pray the blessings of the season carry you throughout 2011.