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20 December 2022

Dear St. John’s family,

This is my first opportunity to reach out to you since you, with Bishop Shane, called me to be
your next Incumbent. I can’t tell you how happy Cheryl, Joshua, Elsa and I are to be joining
you. I didn’t want Christmas to pass us by without a quick letter. This isn’t so much an
introduction to me and my family (that can wait until we’re together in January) as it is a letter
of encouragement during the busy-ness of the season.

Christmas and the days around it are often filled with expectation and activity and we can all,
from time to time, lose the deep spiritual value of the day. We rush to get the turkey in the oven
in time, or get the bathroom cleaned for guests, or get that one and only toy that will be
acceptable or, in my case this year, get your stuff boxed up for a cross-Canada move. Add to
that the way the season seems to get taken over by advertising messages and cultural
traditions that bear little resemblance to the Good News brought by our infant king, and we can
lose the deeper Joy and awe-inspiring grace that Christmas truly celebrates.

I find one of the most joyful carols of the season is Joy to the World, the opening lines of which
read (as I’m sure you know) ‘Joy to the world, the Lord is come/ Let Earth receive her king.’ It
is a wonderful reminder as to why this season is special. There is a unique joy in knowing the
Lord of Creation has come to dwell amongst us and we, the people of the Earth, have the
chance to receive him as our king. This is the heart of Christmas joy, hope, and faith. This is
the truest Christmas present. To be given the everlasting company of the eternal king, Jesus

As we prepare for the celebrations we will have with our various families and communities, I
want to encourage you to leave some space – some mental space, some heart space, and
some space in your time – to let yourself receive again Jesus, born this day in Bethlehem, born
our saviour, born our king, and let the joy of the world become your joy. And then share that
joy and the message that comes with it with someone else. Slowly, by doing this, one person
at a time, we can be a part of truly bringing Joy to the World, for the Lord is come.

God bless you all as we receive our king, Jesus Christ, with joy. See you in January!

P.S. As I’m writing to you, temperatures in Edmonton have dropped below -30 and windchill
brings them down below -40. With about a foot and a half of snow on the ground, there’s plenty
of winter goin’ on over here. Please keep us in your prayers that we won’t turn to icicles and
that we can prepare our family well for this time of transition as we take up life and ministry
with you in Smiths Falls.