Tuesday, January 3, 2017
We are wrapping up Christmas activites here at Forest Grove United Methodist Church. I have many good memories from this year, ranging from an especially engaging Christmas Eve service to a very successful outreach program for needy families to heartfelt, beautiful seasonal music and stories. We even got some snow during Advent this year, a rarity here in the temperate rain forest of western Oregon. The snowy weather came at just the opportune time to cause us to postpone a Christmas benefit music concert. But we finally pulled it off last Sunday, January 1, on, by my count, the 8th Day of Christmas. The program, like everything else this year, seemed especially beautiful, heartfelt, and magical. Christmas day, the First Day of Christmas, came on Sunday this year, a rather inconvenient time, oddly enough. Christmas is so very secularized that going to worship on Christmas morning is harder than usual. To make it a little easier I decided to invite folks to come to church "as you are", even if that meant still in jammies. We set out an array of costumes and props so we could, impromptu, reenact the Christmas story with a narrator telling the tale. I felt delighted to see more folks than I expected arrive early, a lot of them still wearing PJs, and dig right in to the costumes. In short order our congregation became shepherds, magi, angels, innkeepers, animals, Mary and Joseph, and even a star. This photo sums up my delight in this relaxed, church family day. One of our dear older ladies found a fuzzy critter costume that fit her and so she came to the manger of Christ as gentle beast. I smile in my deepest heart thinking about that. This is a church where you can, indeed, be who you are, or who you remember you were, or who you've always wanted to be. The memories of smiles, laughter, and joy in the telling of the story of the birth of Christ, where absolutely everyone continues to be welcome, are now added to my most precious of heavenly treasures.