We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, confused, filthy rich, comfortable, or dirt poor.
We extend a special welcome to wailing babies and excited toddlers.
We welcome you whether you can sing like Frank Sinatra or can’t carry a tune in a bucket. You’re welcome here whether you are “just visiting,” just woken up, or just got out of prison. We don’t care whether you are a cradle Episcopalian or the closest you have come to inside a church is when you saw “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome gym rats, walker users, vegan men, steak-eating women, latte aficionados, and tea drinkers. We welcome people in recovery and people on their way to the bottom. We welcome you if you are down in the dumps, having problems, or are just fine without religion. (We have problems with some of what religion does too.)
We offer a welcome those who want to be here more but their health won’t let them and those who want to be here less but their mothers won’t let them.
We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both, or neither. Who buy their clothes on 23rd Avenue, at Walmart, or at Goodwill. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throat as kids, or got lost and ended up here by mistake. We welcome pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters . . . and you!
With thanks to Coventry Cathedral.
“On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four colly birds, three French hens, two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.”
The anonymous author of this song did not make up the idea of twelve days of Christmas. In the church calendar, the season of Christmas lasts twelve days, until the Day of Epiphany. So if you visit Christ Church this Sunday you will find us still singing Christmas hymns. (With also a hymn for the Holy Name of Jesus, since Sunday is also the feast of the Holy Name, aka the Circumcision of Jesus.) And you can still enjoy the lovely decorations the Altar Guild put up for Christmas.
Church on Christmas Day seems to be primarily an adult thing, so on this next Sunday after Christmas, I am going to be prepared to preach the Nativity story for children. We preachers tend to assume that people of all ages know the basic story, and that they want to hear some new angle on it. But for young children, that isn’t true. And in Oregon, where only a minority of the culturally Christian attend church on any regular basis, it may not even be true for many adults. So I will be talking about Jesus’ naming and circumcision, but in the context of the bigger story of this baby born over 2000 years ago who we believe was even more special than other babies.
On my “To Do” list today is, “Proof Xmas Eve bulletin,” and “Proof Xmas Day bulletin.” Yes, it is almost Christmas, and there will be two services here.
On Christmas Eve, at 7:30 pm we will start with a half-hour of carol singing. Followed at 8pm with a festive Eucharist service. The Gospel will be the story of the birth of Jesus according to Luke.
On Sunday, Christmas Day, at 10 am we will have a simple spoken Eucharist. The Gospel will be the prologue of the gospel according to John.
Two very different views of the incarnation: In Luke, the earthy story of a young woman and her husband and their first baby, with the addition of angels and shepherds. And John’s philosophical reflection, in the context of the Jewish Wisdom tradition, on the incarnation of God the Creator.
This week of preparation, I am ruminating on my sermons, and what keeps coming to mind is not a text but a poem and song: “Love came down at Christmas.” This poem, by Christini Rossetti, is in our hymnal set to an Irish tune. “Worship we the Godhead, love incarnate, love divine . . . Love shall be our token; . . . love to God and neighbor, love for plea and gift and sign.”
If you are our neighbor, we would love to share these services with you.