Dear Friends, Family members, Inquirers, Seekers, Newcomers, and Visitors:
I am writing this Friday before Christmas note at my second office at Grand Central Bakery in Multnomah Village. Amid running errands and dipping into pre-Christmas cheer and celebrations, I took a break from the wonderful crowds of well-wishers and find myself sitting alone in the Bakery, with a hot cup of coffee, an oatmeal chocolate chip, the aroma of freshly made chocolate chip cookies...and a spirit of good cheer.
This Sunday we will meet 4-6, Rose City Park Presbyterian Church's Chapel. I have reserved some candles from the church, and we will sing "Silent Night, Holy Night," with Olivia singing a solo for the 3rd verse as we conclude our worship. The focus Scripture is Luke 2:14-20. I believe that "A Charlie Brown Christmas" made these verses popular. Luke tells this story with eyes wide open, probably equally amazed at how the story unfolded as he told and re-told it throughout his life time. There is a slow and gradual build-up of a gathering of a crowd, with an incredible climax to the story, with angelic choirs singing, and shepherds dumbfounded at all that was taking place before their very lives. What a heck of surprising gift, born that day in the city of David. It wasn't God upon a white stallion out to save the people with a show of force equal to Rome, or the way that most expected a Messiah to be born among the Jewish religious leaders. It was absent power and the embrace of powerlessness that our God deigned that the child Christ be born to poor parents, unable to even find a room in an inn that night. Let us behold, the Prince of People, who has come to set us, and the world, free.
Community of Pilgrims: we out-did ourselves with wonderful gifts for the family at Stephen's Creek Crossing that we sponsored, as well as with gifts to Outside In. Your generosity of spirit, and desire to provide for others, bringing the spirit of Christ's birth to those who wondered what was going to happen this Christmas, was and is beautiful to behold. Your gift of heart, mind, body, and gifts touched the lives of many. A big Thank You to one and all! All of you are amazing. And thanks, Nina Clippard, for helping us connect.
This Sunday, Dec. 24, bring some light refreshments or favorite snacks for our potluck, as many of us will be going home to a special dinner with family and friends. These potlucks have been a wonderful opportunity for us to connect informally, and we are thankful.
Next week, Dec. 31, Chris will be bringing the good news, and we will have our own version of a Big Table gathering.
If there is any inclement weather that stops us from gathering, I will write an email to all without delay, and post the same memo also on Facebook. Stay tuned.
Our prayer concerns and celebrations include:
1. For the McKlinsky family following yesterday's memorial service for their mother Barb.
2. For Laura Faulkner and family. Laura's daughter was treated earlier for bladder cancer and will undergo surgery for new tumors.
3. For Gwen Wilfong whose daughter Carol Jo is dying and for all those who suffer this disorder.
4. For healing Chuck Stilson after his recent TIA stroke. We are grateful to have him back with us tonight.
5. For Bryan and Sara for being here tonight. We welcome you.
6. For Sara's twin brother and family who will be at Nina's house for Christmas.
7. For all of the expressions of Christmas and all the celebrations around the world.
8. For Sayer's pre-school, the Portland Jewish Academy, where they are celebrating Hanukkah. Prayers for all of our Jewish brothers and sisters.
9. For all those afflicted by the civil war in Yemen.
10. For wisdom as Congress debates and votes on tax legislation.
11. For gratitude that Jo Ann's friend who had been diagnosed with breast cancer may not need to undergo radiation.
12. For those who are hungry and homeless in Portland, and around the world;
13. For those alone and without anyone to love them in this season of love made incarnate.
As we gather for Christmas Eve, remember these words of Mary Oliver from her "Christmas Poem":
Says a country legend told every year:
Go to the barn on Christmas Eve and see
What the creatures do as that long night tips over.
Down on their knees they will go,
The first of an old memory whistling through their minds!
O come, O come, let us adore the Christ child this coming Sunday night, the Pilgrim God.
Buen Camino, Pastor Brett and Pastor Chris