day 1, sung beautifully, watch to the end.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the terrorist attack on the Coptic Church of St Peters in Cairo. Neither God nor Allah commands us to kill in his name, and the killing of innocent people is a cowardly act whatever way you look at it, and no matter what you call it. We pray for peace in our troubled world.
Last Sunday was the 2nd Sunday of Advent, and now we are at the 3rd Sunday already. No blog post was written last week, because even though we Christians are meant to be in a time of preparation and waiting, we too get swept up with the busyness of the season.
So today let us stop and take stock. How is the jar going with the daily blessings in it? Did you find time to do it? Have you found time to read your bible this advent?
For sure the ones who have had the time they need to prepare are probably feeling a lot more peaceful than those of us who have not. They feel ready for the coming of the Lord, whether symbolically at Christmas, everyday as they experience him in their daily lives, or if he was to return with all the angels tomorrow.
The rest of us are in various stages of readiness, and although the bible tells us to be always alert, and prepared, with oil filled lamps for we know not when the Lord will come, we should not feel that we have to be totally prepared, otherwise we have failed. The Lord knows our hearts and only he can judge us. He also knows how we humans are and that life is a whirl, for he made us this way.
So take a moment to relax now. Light a candle, say a prayer, maybe read some scripture, and know that all will be well.
Have a blessed advent week.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Christ. Let us take time in this period to think and reflect.
Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac, p. 196
“Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.
“An old abbot was fond of saying, ‘The devil is always the most active on the highest feast days.’
“The supreme trick of Old Scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos—the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all.”
An idea to help you in your awareness is to create a blessing jar. Find a glass jar, and each day in this period write down one thing for which you are thankful or blessed and put it in the Jar. On Christmas Eve you can open the jar and read the blessings in your life and be thankful for them
Wishing you a blessed Advent time
Pledge Sunday is coming up, that time of the year when we ask our congregation and wider supporters to renew or to consider their financial committment to our Church. The Treasurer wrote the pledge letters this year, as we have no permanent vicar yet. There were 2 letters that went out, one to current pledgers, and one to those who do not regularly give. The message in both was fairly consistent and clear – we are a family, we have a need and we all give for different reasons.
This blog post is to answer any remaining questions that anybody might have.
- What is a pledge? – a pledge is a promise, think of it that way. A promise to us, and a promise to God.
- Why does St Ursula’s need money? – we need money to finance the day to day expenses of our Church, pay the salaries, pay the upkeep of the building and to support our charities etc. We do not receive any money from Swiss Church taxes nor from the Anglican Church in England. We raise it all ourselves.
- What is the difference between the Church and the Association? – The Swiss tax authorities used to allow tax relief on donations to our Church, but then several years ago they stopped allowing it on donations to religious bodies. Only donations to Swiss registered charities are allowed for tax relief purposes. So this meant we had to split our organisation and form a charity for those who wished to still get tax relief on the giving. The association was formed as a charity and is responsible for the upkeep of our buildings as well as the Charitable giving. It cannot pay for any religious services, but can support pastoral care in the community.
- So who should I give to? Basically we advise either splitting your giving between the two bodies, or if you are not eligible for tax relief in any case, then please give all to the Church, as the most expenses are in the Church, and if all pledging and donations go to the Association for the tax relief, we have a cashflow issue in the Church.
- How shall I pay? – setting up a standing order is the easiest way and also costs us nothing to receive the cash. The treasurer can also provide numbered paying in slips if you prefer that, and we also receive the money without bank charges if done electonically with the slip. Any payments made at the post office counter however carry bank charges for us, so really that is the least preferred method. Another alternative is to put your giving in an envelope and put it in the collection, but if you do that please include a note inside with your name if you want an acknowledgement.
- Do I receive acknowledgement? Yes, at the end of each year the treasurer will send out acknowledgements of the monies received by account that year. You can use the Association acknowledgement with your tax return. Some tax offices will still allow deduction of payments to the Church account too, so it is worth a try. If any tax office denies the deduction of the payment to the Association please contact the Treasurer for support.
- Are things really as dire as in the pledge letter? Yes they are. We have a small amount of people giving most of our income. In the interregnum period we are saving costs, so this is okay, but once we have a new Vicar and if we want to do some extra things like have a youth worker, or expand our work with refugees then we need more funds. We have been running losses for some years now, and our reserves are low. We need more people to join the circle of pledgers, we cannot ask more from those we already have, it is not fair.
Further info can be found on our website http://www.stursula.ch/Finance/index.html
If you have any other questions that have not been answered here, please ask them in the comments.