Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bringing the Christmas Story to Life!

On December 18th approximately 30 members of Robertson-Wesley United Church gathered in Memorial Hall to get dressed and get ready for bringing the nativity story to life. People of all ages arrived with excited uncertainty and expectation of what this afternoon might bring.
As the participants entered the church they were met by the smell of chili and hot chocolate and they were surrounded by costumes, games and treats. A stable was constructed and set up on the corner of the church property, bales of straw appeared, a few lights were set up and then like magic Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, an angel, some animals and various other characters appeared. Off to the side of the stable Christmas carols were sung with the help of the choir and other volunteers. It didn't take long for people in the community to gather round the nativity scene to see what was going on. As people passed by, candy canes were handed out and people were invited to join the scene, take pictures, and to make a donation to the Bissell Centre.

As the sun went down, and the light faded, a sense of calm, mystery and warmth began to grow. As I watched from a distance I saw cars turning the corner to see what was happening, I saw families join in the scene and take pictures. I noticed people in the nearby apartments stand on their decks and listen to the caroling. Some people looked on from afar, while others wanted to be up close.

The community was curious and in many ways I think that our voices and our story reached out to others in a way that we did not expect. I'm not sure what they received in these moments of interaction, but I know that I received the gift of hope, peace, joy and love as we met new people who stopped to take a look, to simply gaze at this beautiful sight.

In those few hours outside of our church, the true meaning of Christmas was brought to life. We shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with others in a way that reminded me of the magic that Christmas once held for me as a child.

A sense of wonder...

A sense of mystery...

A sense of possibility...

A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes gathered us together and opened our eyes, our hands and our hearts to one another in a way that we had never imagined. I hope that the new year will continue to shed light on the many ways that we, as a church, can connect with the community in which we worship, study, work and live.

During this Christmas season and as we move into the season of Epiphany may these words from "Away in a Manger" bring you comfort and joy:

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay
close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care,
and fit us for heaven, to live with you there.

Written by Karen Bridges

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