Replacing Consumption with Compassion: Advent Ask at St. Paul’s

By Barry Parker, Rector

Posted on November 19, 2014

Advent is the great four week season in the church calendar year that signals the impending arrival of Christmas. Our prayers, preaching and worship shift to clear expectancy and preparation. One way we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus is to participate in our Advent Ask.

At St. Paul’s Bloor Street, we love our Advent Ask. It is an opportunity for us to concentrate on contributing to those outside our church community, and focus on the needs of others. It provides the chance to give, over and above our regular personal support to a cause that is urgent and critical.

This Friday, November 21 at 7 p.m. Jack Connolly will perform live in concert at St. Paul's to kick off our Advent Ask. Admission is free but donations are encouraged to benefit victims of ISIS in Iraq.

As in previous years, our Ask has three parts:
1.    Financial gifts, benefitting those whose lives have been torn apart by the violent advance of ISIS in Iraq.
2.    The gift of adult socks. The socks will be given to those living on the streets of Toronto, providing them with a small but necessary comfort.
3.    The gift of time on Christmas day, volunteering at our Christmas day lunch.

Provide Emergency Food and Medical Aid for Victims of ISIS in Iraq

1.8 million Iraqis have been displaced due to the infiltration of ISIS in Iraq since the crisis began in January 2014. Many of the displaced include those of Iraq’s religious minorities such as Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen and Shabak, who face religious persecution from ISIS.

Many who have fled ISIS advances left with nothing or very few supplies and possessions, and as such, Iraq’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) are in need of basic supplies.

Humanitarian relief is needed to provide Iraqi IDPs with food, water, clothes, bedding and cooking equipment and utensils. Supplies will prevent dehydration, malnutrition, pressure sores and food poisoning and will help to improve hygiene and public health.

Our Advent Ask will raise money for these victims of ISIS in Iraq. Money raised will go toward food aid and medical/sanitation services and equipment. Our goal this year is $35,000 – an amount that can make a tangible life changing difference.

On Tuesday, December 9 at 7 p.m., St. Paul's will host an Evening of Prayer in Solidarity for Christians in the Middle East. We will be joined by special guest the Rev. Canon Andrew White, Chaplain of St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad, Iraq. All donations will benefit victims of ISIS.

Donate socks

Help us warm the feet of those living on the street this winter. There are many people living on Toronto's streets, plagued by homelessness and other misfortunes. As winter approaches, socks can be hard to find. We are collecting new adult socks that will be distributed by Sanctuary to those in need. Sanctuary believes in meeting those in need on their turf - Toronto's streets and alleys. They also run a drop-in program where they distribute vital resources and cultivate community.

A bin will be available in the Atrium for your contributions.

Christmas lunch at St. Paul’s

We will be serving lunch on Christmas Day to those who would otherwise be on their own. Last year we served more than 250 meals with the help of 150 volunteers. The lunch takes place from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and there are three time slots to volunteer. This wonderful ministry needs many volunteers – is this your year to help? Sign up online.

Holy Word of God, Jesus Christ, all things are in your hands, give us peace and hope this Advent season.