Christmas Eve Service
Our Christmas Eve service will begin at 6 p.m. Friday at the Old Prairie Town church at Ward-Meade Park, 124 NW Fillmore. THE SERVICE WILL BE INSIDE. If weather allows, we will gather outside at the end of worship to sing "Silent Night" in candlelight. If you would like to follow along live on Facebook. You can follow along with the bulletin.
Advent is a time to prepare. Over the course of four Sundays, and the weeks in between, we ready our hearts, our minds, our homes, our church and our souls for the Christ light.
Room in Our Inn
A staggering number of families are food insecure for the first time in their lives. Those who were already on the brink are even less sure how to survive.
We are all exhausted in some way, even if it is decision-fatigue. We have problems to address. And so did the Holy Family that night. According to our sacred story, an oppressive regime had demanded everyone upend their lives and hightail it to their hometowns to register for the census. Mary was on the verge of giving birth and the AirBnB app just wasn’t an option. Whether they got to town late or for some other reason, they had a housing problem that night.
The Innkeeper is a figure of our imaginations. Not referenced in the sacred texts, we assume that since Luke said there was an “inn,” then there must have been an “innkeeper.” Often our stories cast him in a negative light, someone who banished a pregnant woman to where the animals were kept. But what if he was truly an entrepreneur — someone who saw a problem and thought, literally, “outside the box” to solve the problem of where Mary could have her child? Instead of thinking, “There’s nowhere,” he said to himself first, “There has to be somewhere.”
Our worship this Advent and Christmas season is inspired by churches who are asking these kinds of questions. They are churches that are seeking to transform their property assets into solutions for various community needs, and strengthen their own viability in the process. Some are offering affordable office space to nonprofits that work to alleviate society’s problems, some are creating affordable housing, some after-school help, some food distribution. Just like the innkeeper. Housing the holy work of Divine Love can happen in many ways.
We, of course, do not have property of our own and so are limited in our ability to use physical space to help our community. But we aren’t broke. We have resources. It’s a matter of what we do with those resources. Do we sit on them in a mindset of scarcity, or do we use them to meet needs in our community and remain viable as a faith community ourselves? What would it mean to invest in affordable housing, for instance, rather than in the stock market?
I invite you to spend this Advent and Christmas seeing our church’s situation in a different light, not one of simply trying to survive but as a church with power to make change. The light of the Star of Bethlehem shone that night on an unlikely house for the holy — a stable. The Light of Christ is shining on us, inviting us to become a beacon of hope to others.
The ongoing pandemic is leaving so much uncertainty and instability in its wake. In the United States alone, millions have lost their jobs and are affected by whether or not landlords will evict them from their homes for failure to pay rent.
Like the childhood game of "musical chairs," we are convinced that there are not enough places at the table. And so we shrink the guest list just in case there is not enough, and we scramble to occupy the chairs first. And yet our sacred texts invite us to imagine and make real the gathering of all people to the table, robed in the garments of a Peace that comes with justice. This is what really matters — this is the fruit of what is right and good.
As John baptized new converts, he invited them to live with “changed hearts and lives.” When asked how to do that, his answers all point to making sure no one is cheated or left without the basic necessities of life, including the right to not be harassed. A full life of joy, which the prophet Isaiah describes as an ever-flowing spring, is the birthright of all children of God. May we act to make it so.
This has been an Advent season of prophets: Jeremiah, Isaiah, Micah. And now the prophet is Mary — the woman who was the original house for the holy. She was “the inn,” her womb gestating love for the world. With all her heart, she proclaims that the lowly are lifted, the hungry are fed, mercy reigns. Like Mary, we must envision, must see, must prophesy and act on that vision for the world that God continues to call us to co-create. What is the view from the room that God has prepared?