A Change in Christmas services . . . and looking ahead

Due to the rapidly rising COVID-19 case count in London, the decision has been made to hold off on in-person worship services at Ascension until further notice as we wait for improvements in the COVID situation. This helps protect not only us at Ascension, but our whole community as well. Below you will find a pastoral letter from Rev. Canon June Hough. Here are the alternative plans:

On Christmas Eve at 7 p.m., Rev. Canon June Hough and other clergy and worship leaders will live-stream a service from the church on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3FiSw3A.

On Christmas Day by 10 a.m., Rev. Jim Garey will post a service from the fireside of his home on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3egcJvd.

On Sunday, December 26 at 10 a.m., the Christmas Eve service will be reposted on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3FiSw3A. As well, Rev. Jim will post a service from his home by 10 a.m. on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3egcJvd.

On Sundays at 10 a.m. until further notice, Rev. June will lead live-streamed services on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3FiSw3A.

Links to services can also be found on Ascension’s Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/102383728728.

A Message from Rev. Canon June Hough:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)

I know many of us were feeling the joy of being able to come together to celebrate the birth of the One who brings light to the world only to find in-person worship has been suspended for a time once again. I share your disappointment and wish it was all different. The pastoral letter from The Rt. Rev. Susan Bell (Bishop of Niagara) helped give me some comfort and so I share this part with you.

“The extent of transmission in our communities has led many to urgently call for a set of new guidelines to act as a ‘circuit breaker’ to slow infection and buy time to ramp up vaccination efforts. We are doing our part to contribute to this effort even as we place our trust in God.

“We know the reality we are facing. We are in the midst of something dangerous and seismic – and the prudent and loving thing to do is to strive to protect us all – from the youngest who are as yet still unvaccinated and vulnerable, to the most senior who are similarly at risk.

“And so, we must lean into the core element of our faith – sacrificial love – and proactively become an online worshipping community once more, for a season . . . .

“Friends, this is a hard time. Nothing I can say can take that away. But I can echo the message of the angel Gabriel who reminded us not to fear but to trust in God’s promises. As a sign of God’s love, the Christ comes among us as one of us to walk this earth: to love us, to teach us, to heal us and ultimately to save us so that we might understand what God’s love is like and how through us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, it can transform this world. This is the incredible love we celebrate in the coming days.”

Beloved, we are still a Church, we may be scattered and apart physically but we are one in the Spirit of the Christ who is born this coming night. The Church has experienced this before in the past and been stronger for it as we reach to one another and celebrate in new ways. You are in my heart as we move forward and in my prayers. In the weeks ahead please let me know if you would like to receive communion in your home, and we will within the protocols set out strive to make that happen. Until then, the darkness has not overcome us and we are children of light . . . arise and shine! Peace, and Love, Rev. June

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