Weekly Liturgy : December 19-25
1-7 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place in the guest room.
The Shepherds and the Angels
8-13 Now in that same region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
15-20 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, and Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.
Whenever I read this story, I wonder what thoughts were swirling in Mary and Joseph’s minds as they made their trek toward Bethlehem, the city of Joseph’s family. Were they expecting a big, happy family reunion, as all the aunts and uncles and cousins returned to the family farm?
What must it have been like for Mary, showing up as an unknown in-law, 9 months pregnant, but unmarried? How did Joseph plan to greet family he hadn’t seen in years?
And what were the emotions of the couple when all those family members refused to include them in the reunion becuase Mary was unwed and pregnant?
At Church at the Park, we believe God is on the side of the poor, the outcast, and the despised. Not because God just has a lot of compassion, but because God ispoor, is outcast, and is despised. And it is our goal to welcome everyone into our community, especially the unwanted, because no one understands the story of God better than those who are denied, left out, and demonized.
This Christmas, may you discover room for you to be, exactly who you are, exactly as you are. And as you gather with whomever you call family, may peace be with you all.
Outward Mindset Application
Be a good listener this week. Talk less. Hear more.
Pathways Toward Centeredness
Enthusiasm (loving the world in mystery and celebration): If you celebrate Christmas, invite someone who would otherwise experience the day alone to celebrate with you!
If you do not celebrate Christmas, find someway to share a measure of joy with someone you care about!
Questions for Relection
Is it good news or bad news to you, that the God of the universe showed up on earth in the form of a poor and unwanted child?
Where on earth do you experience the most amount of welcome and belonging?
What is your favorite christmas gift you have ever received or given?
One of our community practices is to gather every Sunday morning for prayer, friendship, and conversation about the week’s Scripture text. Doors open at 10:30am for coffee and donuts. Our circle begins at 11:00am. We’d love to see you there! The Open Table (@ The old DMV) 2640 N Portland Rd Salem, OR 97301
“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.
Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.