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by Dr. Pat Saxon
Prayer Ministry Volunteer
(Italicized lyrics to “Thankful” by David Foster, Richard Page and Carole Bayer Sager)

So for tonight we pray for/What we know can be…
In the midst of winter’s dark, light breaks over the horizon, the light which no darkness can overcome. We have waited and yearned for the promise of Emmanuel, God with us, and now, like Mary, we approach full term, full time, aching for new birth.

And on this day we hope for/What we still can’t see.
For many who live with loneliness, estrangement, illness, anxiety, and loss, this promise may be just a firefly-gleam in the dark. But Advent teaches us to be watchers of the night, teaches us, like Elizabeth, that even after years of “barrenness,” nothing is impossible with God. Emmanuel comes in the thin sliver of hope--a crescent of light, holding the fullness of the moon in her arms. Or in scriptural hope that the green shoot will come forth from the stump of Jesse. The divine comes in recognizing how we’ve been sustained and companioned during months of hardship, stress, and challenge. Christ’s coming may be manifest in the fresh spring of child-like wonder. Or in the heart’s release from the grip of unforgiveness. And when the tight seed-husk of the defended heart breaks open to new love, Christ surely comes.

It’s up to us to be the change/And even though we all can still do more…
This birth is no Hallmark card vision of the Holy Family. If we have eyes to see, the in-breaking of Love can come in the most unlikely of places—and occurs not just in us but through us. In the deep stirrings of compassion when we pray with a homeless man in despair or when the fire of justice sends us to the streets on behalf of the stranger, Emmanuel comes. You and I—all of us-- are called to witness to the Light for others.

There’s so much to be thankful for.
As we step into the veil of mystery this night, may we stand in breathless adoration in the presence of the Love that “came down at Christmas.” May it pierce us to the core knowing God does not stand aloof in majesty, but risks everything to be with us, to be embodied again and again, dwelling among us, abiding in us, to show us a grace beyond compare.

O Radiant Love, Come to us again this Holy Night. Come and renew us. Come and live through us. Emmanuel, come. Amen.

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
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