“It’s a part of life’s rich pageantry.” This is a phrase frequently used by a former boss of mine, which attempts to describe a sequencing of events that feel both magical and challenging. We encounter the challenges in this season in particular as we add shopping for gifts to our daily schedules, as we search for parking spaces only to stand in long lines at stores and the post office, as we reflect upon seasons past and remember those who are no longer with us. We notice the magic when we are able to take a full breath, to talk about our day with friends and loved ones, when we realize that even in the craziness, most, if not all of our needs are met.
One of my favorite activities at this time of year is the setting up of my two nativity scenes. As I lifted each piece out of their box this year, I noticed in particular the gifts of those who brought the frankincense, gold and myrrh. Like them, we bring a variety of valuable gifts to the ministries at First Congregational, Bellevue. Last weekend was an excellent example of what occurs when people of faith come together in community, in service, and in love:
- We gathered to pay tribute to the life of Judy Bordeaux. It was probably the largest number of people we’ve hosted since moving into this building. Even before her passing, community ministered to Judy and her family, bringing visits, meals and music, and the community’s work to create a fitting memorial was no different
- Saturday afternoon, community gathered to pay tribute to those whose lives have been or continue to be impacted by HIV/AIDS. Our ability to collaborate with another faith community made room for the voices of grace, hope and action to be heard as we contemplate our role in being God’s presence in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
- During the month of November Pastoral and office staff, choir and other gifted musicians, our Congregational Care Commission, our Outreach Commission, our Parish Life Commission, our Sound Team, our Church Council and many individuals not particularly associated with a committee or commission all contributed time, work, gifts, and funds to house the men of Congregations For the Homeless
- Church members purchased three car loads of gifts for 22 friends at Bridge Disability Ministries
- With a flurry of activity, this community completed the design and printing of 500 bulletins for three services this past weekend, an abundance of choir rehearsals and performances, and so much work directing automobile and foot traffic, setting and cleaning up the space.
- In a hermeneutic of unconditional love, Some people gathered to show their love and appreciation for another person, some to contribute through song, spoken word or expertise. And some arrived in a position of need – the need to grieve, to remember, or to belong.
Because we are a community of faith, all things are made possible through God who prepares, strengthens, and guides us as we respond to the needs of those on the margins and await the birth of the Christ Child.