Vol 12 No. 48 Second Week in Advent: Theme of Love or Remembrance

Dear friends,

I am an unabashed fan of Christmas.  When I was age 2-8 years old in West Lane Baptist Church in Moncton, NB, Christmas was a church celebration of wonderful memories, family, and joy.  We were not wealthy and in the mind of a child actually quite poor.  I would go and visit my neighbour Peter Blackman to see what he got for Christmas in a fit of early covetousness; a characteristic which often changes with age as to the focus of one’s desires but not the intensity of the feeling.

Good, worshipful, and warm as these memories are there is also a sense at this time of the year of loss; remembering those who have passed.  Some of those memories are still deeply raw.  We have had the pictures of several of those who have passed this last year in a particular place in our living room.  Here are their names: Brian Stelck, Valerie Milne, and Rob Des Cotes.  Those folk come to my mind and many more flood our thoughts.  I think of Bonnie Ogilvie’s mother Betty.

There are other losses that are upon us especially at Christmas… loss of a job, a move, a relationship… new seasons of life.  In the midst of the birth of the Christ child there is still the awareness, even a wariness that his redemptive mission will pass through death.

I find hope in the life of Christ and in his great love for us; a love that will neither let me go nor abandon me.  As I am reminded of the growing cloud of witnesses I am thankful for the love granted to us all through the Christ of Christmas and through the many that have gone before us. 

There is an increasingly common event in Advent know as “Blue Christmas”: a service where folk gather for whom Christmas is a particularly difficult time.  I don’t take away from any of that deep rooted and often anguished experience.  At Christmas in the midst of loss, bereavement (which means at its root to be robbed), and sadness there is the birth of the Saviour, the love of the Creator, and the gift of new life in Christ.

So it is with love (the 2nd week of Advent) that I give thanks for so many: those who have gone before and those around as co-travelers on the journey.  This December marks the anniversary of Fred Adrian, Christian psychiatrist, husband, father, and friend to many including me.  Fred had a deep love and shared anguish for those who suffered in areas of mental health and he struggled to find meaning in the suffering of so many.  Here is what was written as part of his obituary late last year:

“Along with all his passion for work, he greatly enjoyed sports, music, and reading.  He had a full range of life interests.  Of all his passions he felt his relationship with God was the most powerful as it permeated his every action and was a major part of his being.”

In the midst of the promise of hope and the love of the Christ child at Christmas we remember, pause, grieve, yet give thanks.


In Christ,

Jeremy Bell

Quote of the Week: New York Times, Sunday Nov 27, in an article by George Blecher on diners, there is a quote from Robert Frost which could well refer to some people’s reluctant view about church: “where, when you have to go there/They have to take you in”.

Notes from the Family: There is a church who I cannot name to protect a child that in seeking to accommodate ministry to a child with severe autism brought their week-time daily caregiver to the church to consult how they might set up a healthy and meaningful learning environment.  I very much respect them for that effort.