In silent stillness lay

Christmas is, and always has been, a magicial time at The Cridge Centre for the Family. Back in the days of The BC Protestant Orphans' Home, children who lived here remember "Christmas was a big event. There were many special times during this season of the year … for deprived children, it was an unbelievably happy time…"

And so it is today, for many of our clients, that Christmas is both a busy and a happy time. Sometimes, though, that busy-ness can become a distraction from what we're really here for. 

This afternoon, as I sat at my desk busily clearing the way for my own time off over Christmas, I heard a sound that put me in mind of the angels that sang in Bethlehem. It was the choir from Saint Patrick's School, who had come to sing for our seniors. Beautiful young voices in harmony singing classic carols as well as a few Christmas songs slowed the whole world down momentarily. 

The children were followed by a handbell choir comprised of eight of our senior residents. They've been practicing all year to share their own Christmas songs with the residents and staff, and they played beautifully. A colleague waved to me from where I was taking pictures, and was going to rush off again, when I urged her to wait and listen to the handbell choirs last song. 

Sitting and listening – tt's one of the most rewarding activities of Christmas. In all the shopping and baking, the decorating and the bustle we can so easily forget, "The world in silent stillness lay to hear the angels sing." May you find silent moments this Christmas, moments filled with peace, with love, and with gratitude. 

God Will See You Through

At the October meeting of the Cridge Management Team, Marlene Goley, Manager of Women's and Family Services, shared this devotional by Brigette Weeks. We share it here, as posted on Guideposts, with the hope that it will help you see 'order in the chaos':

My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare. —Psalm 25:15

Riding a rented bicycle with marginal brakes into a four-way intersection on an unsurfaced road is no game for the fainthearted—and I am fainthearted. But while on a trip to Vietnam, that is exactly the situation in which I was horrified to find myself.

There are few motorcars in Hanoi and almost no public transportation, but there are hundreds of thousands of bicycles and small motorcycles racing around the city, guided by no apparent rules.

 
Taking a deep breath, I plunged into a dense and fast-moving morass of vehicles, all going in different directions, many with multiple passengers and alarming amounts of merchandise. “Please, God,” I gasped, “get me out of this alive.”
 
Then I noticed the other bicycle riders kept his or her eyes glued to the four- or five-foot swath of road right in front of them. There was much swerving and weaving, but clearly you only had to take evasive action if another rider intruded into that space in front of you.
 
I’m a quick study in a tight situation. Eyes front, I told myself, and with one or two close calls I got across intersections without bodily harm for the next two weeks and, more important, without a trace of the ghastly sense of panic I had experienced that first day. God didn’t help me escape; God helped me to see order in the midst of chaos.
 
 

A Christmas Message of Peace

 

This devotional opened our December management team meeting, and I thought it would make a great Christmas message for all of you. As we near the 'big' day, let's remember the true message of Christmas comes in a whisper. By the way, the original for this devotional was found at The Electronic Hymnal and appears here slightly modified from the original. 
 
A Christmas Devotional – Silent Night

 
It happens every Christmas. Hustling, bustling, shopping, traveling, cooking. Parties, banquets, Santa Claus, pageants, decorations, trees, lights, clothes. We get caught up in the season of Christmas, stressed about making arrangements to see and please everyone, pressured to balance an already busy schedule with unlimited amounts of additional activities, pushed to attend, give, join, gather and perform.
 
But it happens every Christmas. We are busily tending to our own flock, when out nowhere, the calm and peace and tranquility of Christmas comes. We are never prepared for it. We are always stunned. And amazed. And we experience the awe of the nativity, an event we never witnessed, but of which we somehow have mysterious first-hand knowledge. The Grinch did. Scrooge did. The shepherds did. Each year it happens to us as well.
 
Silent night, holy night,
all is calm, all is bright
round yon virgin
mother and child.
Holy infant, so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace.
 
It happens every Christmas, and it is frequently this hymn that catches us off guard – though it may be another one, Let There Be Peace On Earth, for example. We vividly see and experience the serene relief of a world with a newly-born savior.
 
Then we are transported to the nearby hillside, where shepherds busily tended their sheep, completely unaware that they had been chosen to receive the best news ever heard. We join them, trembling, no quaking, with fear. And above them, the sky is laid open with what can only be described as glory.
 
Glories stream from heaven afar,
heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born.
 
And this we can’t imagine or experience first-hand. Neither Bach nor Mozart ever composed music that remotely compared to the songs the angels sang that night. The total, absolute majesty that only heaven could produce, suitable for the greatest tidings from a glorious God to his lonely creation. We know it is unfathomable, and reserved only for the time when we enter his glory.
 
But we can see the glory in our Lord and Savior. He is our window, our path to our heavenly home. Even as a baby…
 
Son of God, love's pure light;
radiant beams from thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
 
Every year we experience it – in a baby’s peaceful sleep. In the lull of Christmas Eve with the lights on and the family in bed. In the quiet moments sitting with a client. It may be fleeting, but we all experience. The true gift of Christmas – awe, wrapped in peace, and laying in a manger.
 
 

What is “Philanthropy”?

 

Today I attended the local National Philanthropy Day events: a breakfast, a workshop, and an evening gala. In the morning workshop, Andrea McManus, one of Canada's top fundraising professionals, made great distinctions between philanthropy, development and fundraising, and she emphasised how important it is that we focus on the former.

It sounded good, but I honestly didn't quite understand her point. This evening, as I watched the awards presentation and listened to the gracious recipients, the penny dropped, and I suddenly realised what "philanthropy" truly is. 

When we think about philanthropy, we tend to think of the Carnegies and Rockefellers who created the first libraries, concert halls and museums across North America. More recently we think of Bono, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates – men who have made large amounts of money in their chosen fields, and now are re-focusing their energies on redistributing that wealth in humanitarian works that matter to them. That is one style and form of philanthropy, but only one very narrow interpretation. 

A quick linguistics lesson that had me understand: the word "philanthropy" is composed of two Greek roots philos and anthropo. Philos is one of three Greek words for love: agape, God's love for us; eros, physical love, and philos, brotherly love. Anthropo is the Greek word that refers to humans as a group, as in Anthropology. Philanthropy, then, is a brotherly love for humanity – not individual people, but people on the whole. 

Suddenly, I realised the theme of the day, and how we live it out each day at The Cridge Centre. The National Philanthropy Day theme of 'Change the world with a giving heart" is completely consistent with our guiding thought "… Because Love is the Bottom Line." Without love, all of our actions, all of our services, all of our events and communcation are meaningless. 

It also gives me a whole new reading of 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

We appreciate your gifts of time, of talent, and of treasure. And we accept them all as gifts of your love.