Around Town: Almost, Maine; Christmas Tales; Salim Munayer; Brian Doerksen …

Kim Larson and Peter Carlone in Almost, Maine. Photo by Emily Cooper.

Kaitlin Williams‘ dramatic gifts were evident to my wife when her Sunday school class developed a skit to enliven a lesson. So it has been a pleasure for her to see Kaitlin mature into a serious actor and now, in Pacific Theatre’s latest production, Almost, Maine, a director.

Here is a brief description of the show:

The midwinter night is cold and clear as the northern lights dance above: it’s the perfect night to fall into, or out of, love. A charming, almost-magical tapestry of the joys and perils of romance, set in one night in a small town in Maine.

The critics like Almost, Maine:

Like life and love itself, Almost, Maine is quirky, sweet and sometimes delightfully messy. And despite its disappointing lack of snowflakes, you should definitely make this trip to New England.” | Mark Robins, Vancouver Presents

Not only was the play full of emotion, it was hilarious. Due to the characters sincerity, genuineness, and impeccable comedic timing the play seemed to constantly bring the audience to rigorous laughter.” | Connor Riopel, Merely Players

A clever, quirky romantic comic anthology made up of 10 two-character vignettes . . . first-time director Kaitlin Williams and her five attractive young actors handle the material with aplomb. Nearly everyone leaves the theatre smiling.” | Jerry Wasserman, The Vancouver Sun

Almost, Maine, which runs until December 16, isn’t Pacific Theatre’s only offering during the holiday season. Christmas Presence starts December 17 in Clearbrook and then runs December 19 – 23 in Vancouver. Each night is different, I gather, and not all songs and poems in the set list are performed each night, but you can see from the list founding artistic director Ron Reed posted on Soul Food Vancouver that the content is well worth turning out for:

ACT ONE
Peter Abando, Rick Colhoun, Mark Bender | Christmastime is Here 
Charles Schultz | Charlie & Linus
Zaac Pick | Maybe This Christmas
Robert Farrar Capon | Advent
Carolyn Arends | It Was a Holy Night
John Lekich | A Keen Sense Of Occasion
Carolyn Arends | Christmas Magic
Mike Mason | Gabriel’s Annunciation
Jalen Saip | You’re Here
Madeleine L’Engle | The Irrational Season
Carolyn Arends | My First Christmas
Zaac Pick | O What Night

ACT TWO
Spencer Capier | The Merry Blacksmith
Garrison Keillor | The Seven Principles of Christmas
Carolyn Arends | Is Bethlehem Too Far Away
Zaac Pick | Finding Christmas
Lucia Frangione | Taste of Winter
Spencer Capier | Lover’s Waltz
Annie Dillard | God in the Doorway
Carolyn Arends | Do Not Be Afraid 
Sheila Rosen | No Safe Place
Zaac Pick | Christmas Song
Robert Louis Stevenson | Christmas Prayer
Carolyn Arends | A Christmas Blessing

Some shows are already sold out, so don’t dawdle.

Christmas Tales

Christmas Tales will be touching down at several churches in Metro Vancouver, starting this Friday (December 1) at Gracepoint Community Church in Surrey (see other dates below). Here is how it is billed – quite accurately; I’ve seen it:

A rendition of Christmas like you have never heard it. You’ll laugh and cry as you are drawn into the true meaning of the season.

Justyn Rees and Russ Rosen, together with Brett Zigler, Calum Rees, Jonathan Perkins and others love to join forces to make Christmas live through music and storytelling.

Russ will have you singing along with the traditional carols and inspire you with some of the original music that he has written. Together with Justyn’s hilarious retelling of the story, the music and monologs weave a delightful tapestry of the first Christmas for all the family to enjoy. You’ll meet characters painted in vivid colour by Justyn’s knack for international dialects – Joseph the cabinet maker, Angus the tight-fisted innkeeper, Dick the dancing shepherd, Balthazar the wise man from Toronto, and many others.

Russ Rosen and band have been the feature performers at Vancouver’s Rogers Santa Claus Parade for the past five years and know how to turn a Christmas Parade into a street party. For Christmas Tales they nimbly weave together both the festive and reflective carols throughout this upbeat and down to earth production.

Over the past three years Christmas Tales has played in nearly 100 venues throughout the holiday season from Victoria to Edmonton, down the Fraser Valley and up the Okanagan in prisons, night clubs, churches, living rooms and schools. “Angels is popping all o’er the place!”

Other Christmas Tales shows in the Vancouver area are at West Vancouver Baptist Church (December 3); Peace Portal Alliance Church in south Surrey (December 5); North Langley Community Church (December 7 – 8); Mount Seymour United Church (December 16); Olivet Baptist Church in New Westminster (December 17); Bez Arts Hub in Langley (December 19 – 21); and Emmanuel Christian Community Church in Richmond (December 22). There are several other shows up the Valley and on the Island.

Salim Munayer: Reconciliation

Salim Munayer seeks reconciliation in Israel / Palestine.

There will be a couple of opportunities this weekend to learn about ‘Theology and Reconciliation in Israel / Palestine.’ Salim Munayer will speak at Willoughby Church in Langley on Friday (December 1) and Vancouver First Christian Reformed Church on Saturday.

Munayer, a Palestinian-Israeli who teaches at Bethlehem Bible College, is executive director and founder of Musalaha, a non-profit organization that promotes and facilitates reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, based on the life and teaching of Jesus.
Musalaha has created a book-length Curriculum of Reconciliation. One section particularly addresses the themes Munayer will be speaking on while he is here. Following is the beginning of that entry:

As followers of Christ, we are called to live at peace with all people, regardless of their customs or beliefs. We are all brothers and sisters because we are all made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26–27), and we are called to be peacemakers, to bless our enemies, even when they persecute us. Scripture calls us to the ministry of reconciliation in which we are commanded by God to love everybody. But what do we do when we come into conflict with each other because of our theology? How do we deal with this situation?

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:13–14

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7–8

From this passage we can see that God has called us all to love one another, especially fellow believers. If we cannot find a way to reconcile our differences, then what hope do we have in reconciling with people who have beliefs are different from ours? We may not agree on everything, but we have to find a way to love each other in spite of our differences.

Divergent theological beliefs play a central role in many conflicts world-wide, and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, religion has been identified by some as the primary cause of the conflict, as well as one of the causes of its intractability. As the conflict centres on a land holy to three of the world’s major religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity, this analysis has some credibility. Among followers of Jesus/Yeshua (Palestinian Christians and Israeli Messianic Jews) there are significant theological differences which prevent reconciliation and perpetuate the conflict.

Go here for the full piece.

Another event – In the Spirit of Reconciliation – covers some of the same themes, but much closer to home, December 6.

Brian Doerksen: Missions Fest

For 35 years or so, Missions Fest Vancouver has inspired and challenged people to get involved in Christ’s mission by showcasing what God is doing around the world and teaching about mission. Without their annual conference and web platforms many essential mission organizations would remain invisible to the church.

Thus it is good to see veteran worship musician Brian Doerksen helping Missions Fest out in a fundraiser this Saturday (December 2). The evening will include some of his classic songs, along with Christmas carols.

Keri Vermeulen wrote about Doerksen and his new album, released just this fall, in The Light magazine last month. It began:

His laughter breaks through the warm living room like a fresh surprise on an otherwise regular, early autumn afternoon in the Fraser Valley. It’s completely unexpected – and kind of contagious. The joyful bellow comes from multiple award-winning Christian singer-songwriter Brian Doerksen, known to thousands of fans for his worship songs that unreservedly connect with the pain and brokenness of human life.

Many of his well-known faith songs are beautifully woven together with a thread of lament to God. Acknowledging this kind of pain in Christian singing and song writing is perhaps why so many other Jesus-followers connect with Doersken’s music, and have been singing along at home and in churches for decades now.

And maybe it’s at least partly why the man behind songs such as ‘Faithful One,’ ‘Refiner’s Fire’ and ‘The River’ has been awarded over a dozen Covenant Awards (including a lifetime achievement award in 2014), a Juno Award for the album Holy God (2008) and is the second Canadian to be awarded a Gospel Music Association Dove Award.

Go here for the full interview. There will be a Christmas bake sale, along with the concert. Funds raised will go to support Missions Fest.

And much more . . .

Check out all the Advent and Christmas events below. Many of them take place this week – look at December 2nd!

November 30, 2017

Copenhagen – November 30, 2017 - December 2, 2017 at All Day
Christmas Shopping at Brooksdale – November 30, 2017 - December 1, 2017 at 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
The Female Friendships of C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien, with Jason Lepojarvi – November 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Reformation 500: Why Should Pastors Care?, with Dr. Iain Provan – November 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Book Launch: Martina Scholtens - Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist – November 30, 2017 at 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Book Launch: The Quiet in the Land by Richard Toews – November 30, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Handel's Messiah – November 30, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

December 1, 2017

St. Hildegard's Sanctuary presents 'Testament of a Naked Man' – December 1, 2017 at 12:00 am
The Two Sides of Christmas – December 1, 2017 at 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Christmas Tales – December 1, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
ECBC Christmas Musical: The Plan – December 1, 2017 - December 2, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Handel's Messiah – December 1, 2017 - December 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Reconciliation as a Christian Response to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – December 1, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Rejoice! European Carols and Readings – December 1, 2017 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

December 2, 2017

Food for the Hungry: Ending Poverty Together Bootcamp – December 2, 2017 at 8:30 am - 3:30 pm
Holy is God's Name Advent Retreat – December 2, 2017 at 8:30 am - 3:00 pm
Relation$hip Cent$ – December 2, 2017 at 9:30 am - 2:30 pm
St. Stephen's Fall Fair – December 2, 2017 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Blue Christmas Retreat – December 2, 2017 at 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Christmas Open House – December 2, 2017 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Surviving the Holidays – December 2, 2017 at 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Sounds of the Season – December 2, 2017 at 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Roy Durman Evangelistic World Outreach Banquet – December 2, 2017 at 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Hearing God: Dr. Roberts Liardon – December 2, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Missions Fest fundraising event featuring Brian Doerksen – December 2, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Chez Nous: Christmas with Elektra – December 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Gloria Dei Chorale presents Messiah – December 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Reconciliation as a Christian Response to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – December 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Bach's Christmas Oratorio – December 2, 2017 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

December 3, 2017

Christmas with the Bach Choir – December 3, 2017 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Christmas at the Chan – December 3, 2017 at 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Winter Harp – December 3, 2017 at 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Advent Lessons and Carols – December 3, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Bach's Christmas Oratorio – December 3, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Chez Nous: Christmas with Elektra – December 3, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
ECBC Christmas Musical: The Plan – December 3, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Advent Lessons and Carols – December 3, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: Mighty Fraser Big Band with Steve Maddock & Amanda Wood – December 3, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Christmas Tales – December 3, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

December 4, 2017

Adult & Teen Challenge BC Banquet Tour – December 4, 2017 at 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm

December 5, 2017

Lunchtime Concert: Karen Santos, Soprano – December 5, 2017 at 12:10 pm - 12:50 pm
Christmas Tales – December 5, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

December 6, 2017

Hope in the City Breakfast – December 6, 2017 at 7:00 am - 9:00 am
Annual Christmas Artisan Fair – December 6, 2017 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Business By the Book Christmas Luncheon – December 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Millennial Ministering in Vancouver – December 6, 2017 at 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
In the Spirit of Reconciliation – December 6, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

December 7, 2017

Overnight Christmas – December 7, 2017 - December 10, 2017 at All Day
13th annual Vigil With the Silenced: A Just Advent – December 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Yule Duel – December 7, 2017 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Adult & Teen Challenge BC Banquet Tour – December 7, 2017 at 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Christmas Tales – December 7, 2017 - December 8, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

December 8, 2017

Aurora: Annual Christmas Concert – December 8, 2017 - December 10, 2017 at All Day
Christmas Open House at the Duncan Africa Society & Guitar Co. – December 8, 2017 - December 9, 2017 at 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play – December 8, 2017 - December 10, 2017 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
NightShift Christmas Open House – December 8, 2017 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Homes for the Holidays? A Fundraiser for the tent cities and Alliance Against Displacement – December 8, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Singing Christmas Tree – December 8, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

December 9, 2017

Eastside Story Guild: The Whisperer - The Story of Elijah – December 9, 2017 - December 12, 2017 at All Day
Holy is God's Name Advent Retreat – December 9, 2017 at 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
After Arrival: Free Workshop on Private Sponsorship of Refugees – December 9, 2017 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
St. Hildegard's Sanctuary Quiet Day for Advent – December 9, 2017 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Two Voices, One Accord: The Challenge of Intergenerational Worship – December 9, 2017 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Singing Christmas Tree – December 9, 2017 - December 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Singing Christmas Tree – December 9, 2017 - December 10, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Handel's Messiah – December 9, 2017 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

December 10, 2017

Laudate Singers: Making Spirits Bright! – December 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Jazz Vespers with the Mighty Fraser Big Band – December 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Jazz Vespers: Jen Hodge, Company B – December 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Blue Christmas – December 10, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

December 11, 2017

Christmas Concert with the Silvertones – December 11, 2017 at 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

December 12, 2017

Lunchtime Concert: Rosemary Siemens (violin) & Eli Bennett (saxophone) – December 12, 2017 at 12:10 pm - 12:50 pm

December 13, 2017

Christmas with HOPE International Development Agency & Pacific Theatre – December 13, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

December 14, 2017

Almost, Maine by John Cariani – December 14, 2017 - December 16, 2017 at 12:00 am
Christmas at the Starlight Theatre – December 14, 2017 - December 18, 2017 at All Day
Cold Clear Sky: An Anthology of Woodcuts by Dan Law – December 14, 2017 - December 21, 2017 at All Day
The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe – December 14, 2017 - December 31, 2017 at All Day
Timberline Country Christmas – December 14, 2017 - December 20, 2017 at All Day
Unity of Spirits Art Exhibition – December 14, 2017 - February 2, 2018 at All Day
Winter Harp – December 14, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

December 15, 2017

Christmas with Chor Leoni – December 15, 2017 at All Day
Journey of Christmas – December 15, 2017 - December 24, 2017 at All Day
Loft Country Christmas (four evenings) – December 15, 2017 - December 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Carol Sing-Along with Michael Hart – December 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Singing Christmas Tree – December 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
The Christmas Toy Factory – December 15, 2017 - December 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Good Tidings! A Good Noise Gospel Christmas – December 15, 2017 - December 16, 2017 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

December 16, 2017

Bez Christmas Craft Market – December 16, 2017 at 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Christmas with Chor Leoni – December 16, 2017 at 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Amabilis Singers: A Christmas Gift – December 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Out of the Cold presents: Christmas Market & Dessert Theatre – December 16, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Singing Christmas Tree – December 16, 2017 - December 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
North Shore Community Christmas Dinner  – December 16, 2017 at 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Christmas Dinner Theatre: A Tree Lot Christmas – December 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Carols for the Climate – December 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Don Moen: Christmas - A Season of Hope, with Lenny LeBlanc – December 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Frontline Voices: A Season of Hope – December 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Singing Christmas Tree – December 16, 2017 - December 17, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
I Can See the Star, with the Marcus Mosely Chorale – December 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:45 pm
Winter Harp – December 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

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