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by Rev. Dawson B. Taylor
Associate Pastor for Congregational Life - Dallas
Pastor - CoH Houston

‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ Matthew 1:23

A Word of Hope
We all have holiday traditions. For some of us it is eating a certain meal with certain people at a certain time. For others it may be a special ornament that always has a special place on the tree. While others may enjoy a tradition of attending church on Christmas Eve seated next to family or a spouse. Whatever it is and whether or not you still follow it, we all have holiday traditions that are etched in our memory.

A personal tradition that only began a few years ago has been to listen to Messiah by George Frideric Handel during this season. Music is an important part of my spiritual life and somehow this ancient text and well known melodies that I’ve sung numerous times never get old to me. Instead, it helps me center myself and open my heart to receive the gift of Jesus that has changed my life. I love hearing the beautiful music that recalls the story of Christ. I also love reminiscing about times that I’ve sung this work and the people that I’ve sung it with. It never fails to warm my heart and bring a smile to my face.

Listening to Messiah is simple. I can listen to it on the run in between parties or sitting in a parking lot. I can listen to it running an errand or on the way home to see family. Christmas in our society has become fast-paced, over-sized and over-stuffed. But it doesn’t have to be. Besides, we mustn’t forget that all of this hustle and bustle is really all about a baby, sent by God to be Emmanuel, “God is with us.”

On this, the Monday before Christmas, if you find yourself running around or filled with worry about getting everything done. Find something simple to calm and center your soul and allow God to be born again anew in you this day.

Loving God, thank you for the gift of Emmanuel.

But if you remain silent, who can condemn you? If you hide your face, who can see you? Job 34.29

A Word of Hope
Have you finished your costume yet? Halloween is just two days away and the parties have already begun. Do you ever wonder why so many of us go to extremes every year to dress ourselves or our children as super heroes, grotesque movie monsters or even scarier politicians? The “Hallow” in “Halloween” means “holy”, so how does all this fuss relate to a Holy Evening? The first Hallow-e’en costume parties originated in the Middle Ages, but they were far from parties as we know the term.

European villagers were obsessed with possession in those dismal times of plagues and poverty. Since demonic influence and possession seemed to them to be the most logical and probable cause for all their woes, the idea came about that dressing up in frightening-looking outfits and making lots of noise was the best course to frighten the demons away. The practice was encouraged by the church leaders who also told them that All Hallow’s Eve, the evening before the venerated Feast of All Saints, was the night the spirits of evil were at their most active level, doing whatever was necessary to snatch people’s very souls and thoroughly defile the upcoming worship events. So, everyone put on their masks and rattled their chains to literally scare the devil out of each other and send the demons back to the pits where they belonged.

This is not likely the reason you or some of your friends might be wearing a costume today, but it is not surprising that at this time of year much of the LGBTQ community eagerly embraces the opportunity to play dress up on the streets. Few believe in possession, but most have been touched by oppression. Many are still forced to wear a mask in their work or worship places year round. On this night, wearing a mask is their own choice, not somebody else’s. They are freed from playground mentality rules such as “don’t ask, don’t tell” to noisily proclaim their real identities and maybe drive out a few of their own demons of guilt and shame. And if that is the case, maybe it’s a holy evening after all.

Help us to know that we are all hallow in your sight.

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Childcare is provided at all Sunday and Wednesday services.

9 & 11 a.m. – Sunday Worship
9 & 11 a.m. – Children’s Church
11 a.m. – Youth Groups
1 p.m. – Sunday Worship in Spanish

7:15 p.m. – PULSE Service

5910 Cedar Springs Road | Dallas, TX  75235 (map)
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