Category Archives: Special Day

Advent is a robust and demanding spiritual season

By Steve Bell

He came with love to Bethlehem; He comes with grace into our souls; He will come with justice at the end of the world. —Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene

Advent simply means to come, (Latin: advenire, from ad-‘to’ venire-‘come’) and it is the forty-day liturgical season Christians have traditionally set aside to anticipate the coming of Christ at Christmas, experienced as a season of attentive waiting. Of course, as with all waiting comes the inevitable agony of anticipation; so much so, that we are inclined to want to do something to make the waiting itself bearable and meaningful.

In this regard, Advent is an active season of mindful preparation as well.

Singer Songwriter Steve Bell helps us consider the spiritual rigour of Advent.

When a young couple discovers they are expecting a child, it is not enough for them to simply wait out the nine months and hope for the best. There will be necessary preparation. Perhaps they will clear out a spare room to create a nursery. Tough decisions will be made about what stays and what has to go. They will collect and purchase appropriate furnishings. They will seek advice. They will endlessly brood over a name; about the kind of birth-experience they hope for; about the joy, fears, and future of this new reality. And the preparation will not be meaningless because it’s about getting ready to fully receive the gift of the child who is coming.

So when we consider the Christian season of Advent, what is the content of our waiting? How are we to prepare? What makes this time more than just a season to endure before the fun starts? How do we ready our lives to receive the gift of Christ fully, and do so with meaning—with the deepest joy and reverential awe that we suspect ought to accompany such an astonishing event?
Continue reading Advent is a robust and demanding spiritual season

Why giving Faith Today for Christmas is such a great idea

by Karen Stiller

Last night I ordered a very unusual and cute thing online for my sister for Christmas. I can’t say any more, Miriam might read this. But it did remind me how convenient it can be to shop online, and how fun it is to give meaningful, unique gifts to show our love.

You can do that with Faith Today this year with our two-for-one subscription deal. Here’s why giving a subscription to Faith Today to two people on your gift list (or one to yourself and one to a friend for a total of $29.99), is such a great idea.

We like that you read it. We love when you subscribe to it.
  • Faith Today fills a unique place in the world of Canadian journalism so that is increasingly rare and important. We cover stories other people don’t. We ask questions other people won’t.
  • Your friend will have an ongoing source of challenging essays on the spiritual life, news about issues of interest to Canadian Christians, interviews with Canadian leaders and change-makers and inspiring ideas for their own lives and the shared life of their congregation.
  • Your friend will be able to read things like reviews of the latest Canadian Christian literature and see the beautiful art created by faith-based artists in our popular Canadian Creatives department.
  • The faith of your friend will be encouraged as they read about the vital and creative work being done by congregations of many denominations across Canada. The Church is relevant, and your friend will be reminded how and why, and be encouraged.
  • It’s easy to order and an inexpensive and beautiful gift that builds up the Church and supports excellent Christian journalism in Canada.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the articles and topics your friend (and you!) will be able to read in the new year:

Thoughtful and practical essays on reconciliation to help us move further along on this journey. How small churches in Canada can increase their impact and value the unique contribution they are able to make in their communities. Why you never retire from your calling. Why and how we switch from one Christian tradition to another so easily.

Join the Faith Today family today, in one easy step, and share the blessing of Canada’s Christian magazine with people you care about.


The First Christian was a Single Mother: Fear, Favour and Faith

By Carolyn Weber

For most of my childhood, I was raised by a single mom. When I consider my own fortunate position alongside a godly man, I have no1868223HighRes idea how she did it all. I continue to be surrounded by single moms, and remain highly sensitive to their survival situation. I am inspired by their endurance, their love, and their determination to make a better life for their children. Perhaps it has been this firsthand experience, then, that lead to my initial reaction to Mary’s own response to the preface of the Annunciation:

“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:26-28).

Then Luke tells us “Mary was greatly troubled at his words …” (Lk 1:29).

I’ll say!

Luke’s detail about Joseph and Mary being merely pledged to marry, and later not consummating their marriage, provides important confirmation of a virgin birth. It is the fulfillment of prophecy along with proof of the miracle of the immaculate conception. It also conveys just what a risk Mary faced, especially in her day and age. Joseph held the right to abandon her: she would have been ostracized from the community at the very least, justifiably killed at worst. We tend to forget this threat in the school pageant re-tellings of the Christmas story.

“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God’” (Lk 1:30).
Continue reading The First Christian was a Single Mother: Fear, Favour and Faith

God is Such a Show off: The Eagle and the Advent

by Carolyn Weber

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

Funny how some of the most momentous things happen when you are doing the most mundane of tasks.1835785LowRes

Where does the line blur between the moment and the momentous? When does one become the other? When does a moment become anointed?

How does it move from the near unconscious smooth assumption that one undertaking will follow another, to the arresting of time, space, thought, breath?

Trauma, impact, accident, cruelty, misfortune, all such things have this effect.

But wonder does too.

And awe.

Awe in that old sense of the word. In its original meaning. In the invocation of both fear and amazement, terror and wonder. Such paradox! This taking of the breath by the same hand that gave it to us. How to find words for this force that gives and takes away, whose ways are mysterious, whose peace surpasses all understanding?

I stand stalk still in the kitchen, a bunch of bananas clutched in one hand, a tinselly bag of Goldfish crackers crinkling in the other. Under my arm is tucked a roll of holly-patterned wrapping paper, since I just ran out last night. My knee cuts against the hard edge of a box of diapers, but I do not move.

Only moments before, I had been unloading groceries from the car – but not just any groceries. Christmas groceries. Groceries intended for parties and school events, for a large family dinner and days upon days of baking. Flour and eggs and baking soda and clinking jars of maraschino cherries. A gigantic frozen turkey, pre-stuffed, thank you very much, rolls off my counter with a bang, just missing the few extra boxes of chocolates I picked up on sale, for those last minute gifts.

I have been immersed in my equivalent of hunting and gathering for my family. I stand there sweating along with my floored turkey. The aisles of Costco and Walmart can be just as treacherous as the plains and forests for those armed with a tight budget.
Continue reading God is Such a Show off: The Eagle and the Advent

A Military Chaplain Remembers

By Pierre Bergeron

This week at the National War Memorial in Ottawa

On Remembrance Day I’m deeply moved as I watch young and old veterans with watery eyes lay a wreath or a poppy on a tombstone as they remember the time, the place and how their buddies laid down their life in seas, foreign fields and beaches.

That’s why survivors of war have made a commitment to “the fallen” to remember them. God help us not to forget.

Remembrance Day is a special opportunity to remember and honour the thousands of leaders, men and women who surrendered their dreams and ambitions. They laid down their lives to defend the very principles of freedom that our nation enjoys and so many seem to take for granted.  This day is also an opportunity to be reminded of the painful scars our veterans carry hidden in their memories.

Continue reading A Military Chaplain Remembers