We welcomed many to the Carlisle-Kilbride pastoral charge at Christmas! We pray that you are blessed by the experience of worship in this place, and thank you for sharing in the season with us. Christmas is a holy time of year, filled with light and song, gifts and fellowship, history and hope. Each year we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, the Light of the World who brings the gift of Life. May you be refreshed by the retelling of the story, the singing of the carols, the prayers of the people.

As the new minister it has been a gift for me to be welcomed by the community here. My experience has been that it is a place of prayerful service, joy and care. The worship space in a church is called the “sanctuary,” because it is intended as a place where all can find refuge and peace. Let me tell you that Carlisle-Kilbride lives out that purpose. Not long after my arrival here, early in 2018, I had to take a medical leave from the church. The congregation ensured that I would be surrounded with care and prayer, both from themselves and the broader United Church. They lived out the message of Jesus from Matthew 25:35-40:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Ever since, Carlisle-Kilbride has been a place of grace for me. It is a place where “the least of these” can find support, fellowship and love. This community has blessed me with sanctuary, with continual support and care, and an emphasis on building my capacity as a student minister in the United Church of Canada. They are helping me learn and grow. I know that they want to do the same for you and your loved ones this Christmas.

As we learn and grow together, the church has generously enabled me to focus on health and family in this busy season. Thank you to all the many people in the congregation that have helped prepare our Christmas worship services. Carlisle-Kilbride congregations will share a joint service on Sunday December 30th 10:00 a.m. at Carlisle United, Centre Road. This is a place that recognizes the gifts and needs of each person as a blessed Child of God, and invites each of us to share ourselves in community.

Amen.