Calvary Episcopal Church
Children & Youth Ministries Newsletter
December 2020 & January 2021
Reflection of the Month
for December and January 2020/2021

This year Advent begins on Sunday November 29th. Advent and Christmas will be very different in 2020. I imagine we all will be scaling back our celebrations. The Sunday school Advent gathering will not take place. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate at home with our family. Advent wreaths can be set up on the dining room table, prayers can be said with family. Decorations created at home and hung around the house. It will be different, but it will still happen.

As we move through the four Sundays of Advent we can prepare for Christmas. Not just the physical trappings of lights, cookies and presents. We need to prepare our hearts for this great gift of Jesus from God with prayer, reflection and gratitude.
Let’s look at the Advent wreath and all the symbolism that surrounds it.

The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning and no end, is a symbol of the eternity of God and the everlasting life we find in Christ.
The greens that make up the wreath have special meaning as well. The pine, holly and yew signify immortality, the laurel means victory over persecution and suffering. Cedar represents strength and healing and pine cones that decorate the wreath are a symbol of life and resurrection.

The candles each have their own significance. There are four candles around the the wreath that are for the four weeks of Advent, and one is lit each Sunday. The first candle we light is for Hope. It is sometimes called the ‘Prophecy Candle’ in remembrance of the prophet Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. The second candle represents Love. Sometimes called the ‘Bethlehem Candle’ as a reminder of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. The third candle is pink and symbolizes Joy. It is called the ‘Shepherd’s Candle’ and is pink because rose is the liturgical color of Joy. It also reminds us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Christ. On the fourth week of Advent we light the last candle to mark our final week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Savior. Some call this candle the ‘Angels Candle’ symbolizing Peace. It is a reminder of the angel’s message of “Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men.” On Christmas day in church the white Christ candle is lit that sits in the center of the wreath.

While we prepare our hearts for Christmas during Advent. It may also be a good thing to reach out to our friends and neighbors who are alone. Drop off a card, cookies or ask if they need help shopping. It will be extra lonely for those who don’t have family at home to share their traditional celebrations with.

Prayer is a wonderful way to open your heart to prepare for the birth of Jesus.
Here is a sample prayer to use during this season of Advent.

This Advent, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Fill me with Your presence from the very start.
As I prepare for the holidays and gifts to be given,
Remind me of the gift You gave when You sent Your Son from Heaven.
The first Christmas gift, it was the greatest gift ever.
You came as a baby born in a manger.
Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,
Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.
Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus' birth,
When He left the riches of Heaven and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.
Immanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.
And angels announced, "Into your darkness, God brings His Light."
"Do not be afraid," they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to Your call.
Setting distractions and worries aside, to You I surrender them all.
Surround me with Your presence, Lord, I long to hear Your voice.
Clear my mind of countless concerns and all the holiday noise.
Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
In the midst of parties and planning, I want to feel Your hush.
This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me, as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You, Lord. It's in Your wonderful Name I pray.
~Renee Swope

On Christmas day we all rejoice and sing Joy To The World! The twelve days between Christmas day and Epiphany is called Christmastide.  
On January 6th, twelve days after Christmas, we celebrate Epiphany, which is the day that the wise men arrived to bring gifts to the baby Jesus. Other names for Epiphany are “Three Kings Day” and “Twelfth Night.” Some people celebrate with a “Kings cake” a small token, coin or bean is baked into the cake and whoever gets it is crowned King! Traditionally it is the day to take down the Christmas tree and put the decorations away.

There is a lot to look forward to as we prepare for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany in the next two months. Even though our lives are really different from last year, we can have hope and pray that we will have better days ahead. I think a lot of us have had time to reflect on the ways of our world that need to change for the better. Cheers to a bright future and a better world as the days increase.

~Cinda Stone
Primary class teacher
In This Issue

Upcoming Events in December and January
November Zoom Sunday School
Advent Prayers and Activities
Advent in 2 Minutes
Advent/Christmas Scavenger Hunt
Chicken BBQ
Resources for a Christmas Skit
CYM Bottle & Can Drive
Diocesan News
Upcoming Events in December and January

  • December 6, 5 - 6:30 p.m. Zoom Advent/Christmas Scavenger Hunt
  • December 19, 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. Calvary Chicken BBQ
  • December 20, 10 a.m. Zoom Sunday School
  • December 24, 25 Christmas Services TBA. Christmas Eve streamed service available on the Calvary website all day
  • January 31, 10 a.m. Zoom Sunday School
November Zoom Sunday School

Thanks to everyone who attended our November Zoom Sunday School and contributed to our service. Our readers, and prayer leaders, and candle keepers all performed very well! Here’s a link to the meeting’s slideshow.
We prayed about things that made us thankful. We listened to most of Fr. Robert Harvey’s Children’s Sermon about waiting with courage. It begins about 21 minutes into the Sunday service, which you can view here.

Our next Zoom Sunday School will begin at 10 a.m. on December 20, which is the Sunday before Christmas. Use this Zoom link, or call +1 646 558 8656 and use Meeting ID: 874 4230 2580 and Passcode: 947065. We will send out a link to Sign-Up Genius to recruit participants such as readers, prayer leaders, and candle keepers, etc. We will have a sign-up for leading a verse of your favorite Christmas carol and for a Christmas skit (since we cannot do a pageant).
Advent Prayers and Activities

Here are some online resources for families for Advent.
St. Christopher's Family Resources - Various links to Advent (and Lent) resources for family activities and prayers.
St. Mary's Advent Wreath Liturgy - A liturgy for the four weeks of Advent compiled and written by the Rev. Matthew Kozolowski. The last section includes weekly conversation starters for families with young children.
St. Elisabeth Episcopal Church, The Lighting of Advent Candles - This includes a brief explanation of Advent, instructions for a lighting ceremony with short scripture passages and prayers.
Advent in 2 Minutes

Advent in 2 minutesa short video by by Busted Halo, explains what Advent is all about and what we can do during Advent to make Christmas joyous and meaningful. The end of the video encourages viewers to find ways to help those in need. Although some ways to do outreach may not be available this pandemic year, there are still ways that we can nurture our children’s compassion and generosity. Your mailbox and email inbox may financial appeals for help. If you plan to send money to some charitable organizations, why not get your children involved by discussing the various causes and explaining why you wish to send money to them, or even letting your children help to choose one or two of the recipients? If you are looking for more “hands-on” ways to teach your children to help those in need, here are some suggestions:
  • Toys for Tots/Buffalo’s Neediest - drop off a new, unwrapped toy at Wegmans and other locations.
  • Caring for the poor and the homeless - See what donations are needed by visiting websites such as St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy or Friends of Night People.
  • Caring for animals - Adopt a pet (!) or donate items to shelters or pet pantries such as The Church of the Good Shepherd in North Buffalo or St. Matthias Church in East Aurora.
  • Millersport Recycling - Drop off your redeemable bottles and cans at 803 Millersport Hwy, Buffalo, NY and credit the refund to Calvary Episcopal Church. They are open Wednesdays through Fridays from 1 - 5 pm and Saturdays from noon to 3 pm. CYM will be donating funds to Episcopal Relief and Development.
  • Help a neighbor in need - With parents’ permission, children might help to shovel snow or walk their neighbor’s dog.
December 6, 5 - 6:30 pm Advent/Christmas Scavenger Hunt

Please join Fr. Harvey and Mrs. Harvey for this Zoom family event. Children and youth will search for items based on Bible verses, and then they will send a photo from their home when they find the item. The winning family who successfully completes the hunt first will receive an Amazon gift card. Use this Zoom link.
December 19 Calvary Chicken BBQ from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

BBQ chicken dinners prepared by Krolicks BBQ will be available as a fundraiser for our church. Each dinner will include a ½ chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, a roll & butter, plastic utensils and more. All dinners must be pre-ordered, at $15 each.

The ordering deadline is December 9 at noon. Call the office or visit the Calvary website to to order; your check or on-line payment will reserve your dinners. Financial gifts will also be graciously accepted. Also, please let us know when you will be picking them up – 4:00, 4:30, 5:00, 5:30, or 6:00. When you come to pick them up, simply drive through our circular driveway, and your dinners will be brought out to you by Father Robert, the Wardens and others.
Resources for a Christmas Skit

At the December 20 Zoom Sunday School, we plan to have a Christmas skit. We will need narrators and performers with simple home-made costumes. There will be a sign up for the various parts. Here are some websites to help with making costumes or masks.

CYM Bottle & Can Drive

Thanks to all of you who have been bringing their redeemable bottles and cans to The Millersport Recycling Bottle & Can Redemption Center at 803 Millersport Highway and crediting returns to "Calvary Episcopal Church." Unless anyone can suggest an alternate charity, CYM will be donating the Bottle & Can funds to Episcopal Relief and Development’s Disaster Fund to provide relief for the wildfires in California and other western states.
Diocesan News

The Diocesan Partnership will be offering a festive Christmas Eve service at 5 pm on December 24. We will begin with a Carol Sing and the Bishop will preach.
Everyone is invited to gather digitally with family around creches and Christmas trees as we celebrate the Nativity of the Lord. Come, All Ye Faithful!
Baby Jesus Prayer

God, thank You for Your love at this special Christmas time. Thank You for baby Jesus and the thoughts of angels singing. Help everyone remember that this wonderful time of year is all about You. We love the lights, the decorations, and the songs that we sing. Thank You for the good food and time with family, but still, help us to remember, it’s all about You. In Your name. Amen.
20 Milton Street, Williamsville, NY 14221