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Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:


Another Advert season is upon us and Christmas will soon be here. The children are becoming increasing excited, and the teens are putting their Christmas lists together. Family gatherings and meals are being planned. Decorations and trees are going up. The town looks very festive. The store shelves are stocked, and the sounds and songs of Christmas once again fill our senses, while those of us who are older, wonder where time has gone, since for us, last Christmas only seems a few months ago!


First Church is busy of course. We entered a float, the first for several years, in the Collingwood Santa Claus Parade because we want to be seen and present in our community. Christmas Hampers are being prepared to bless those who find this time of year a tough one to navigate. Our Choir will be presenting “The Christmas Story” once again, for it is important to us to make sure the real story of Jesus our Saviour is told. Our Advent Worship services will be led by our Interim-Moderator, with our Sunday School, assisted by our youth, presenting their Pageant on Sunday December 17th. The following Sunday is Christmas Eve and we will worship at 10am and at 7.00pm. We hope you will be present in person for worship during this season, or watch the services on line. 


Jesus is quoted in Acts 20:35 as saying that, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. That’s an important message for us as Christians because at this time of year, many people are more concerned about what they will receive as a gift (and what they may have to return or exchange on Boxing Day), than they are about giving. Sadly, selfishness and self- interest don’t disappear just because of the season. Our actions can set a different tone and example. 


This Christmas, I ask you to reflect on how your gifts can bless others, which in turn will be a blessing to you. Giving, you see, is at the heart of the gospel we proclaim. “God so loved the world that he GAVE his only Son… to us.” (John 3:16) “What great love the father has GIVEN us that we might be called children of God.”  (1 John 3:1) And, of course, we rejoice that in the Rev. Alton Ruff we believe that God has now given us a new minister. God’s gifts are always the best!


I invite you, then, to please take whatever opportunities you may have this Advent and Christmas season to help others in Jesus Name for we truly are the hands and feet of Jesus in the world today, and generosity is a way to respond to God’s love for us. Enclosed with this letter is our annual Christmas offering envelope if you choose to bless First Church and its ministries with a special gift (or you can go to the donate page on our church website.) As we prepare to return, as a congregation, to full time ministry, your support would, as always, be greatly appreciated. 


As for me, my time as your Interim Moderator is quickly drawing to a close. I believe you are well positioned to continue to impact our community in meaningful ways with the leadership of your new minister. May God’s Spirit lead you to do so. Merry Christmas, and every blessing for 2024!




Rev Dr. Neal Mathers


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