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God-With-Us for all people


The Sungs' Chinese nativity. They wrote: “Hand-carved by Chinese Christians, the stable has a Chinese architectural style, and the people all have Chinese features. We also love that there is an extra figure included. In the photo he is on the right, partially in shadow—he doesn’t have a part in the Gospel narratives, but to us he represents the Chinese people witnessing the events of Christmas and waiting, along with the rest of the world, for the light to come to them.”

Christmas is next week, when we will celebrate the profound miracle of God-With-Us in the birth of Jesus. Our church takes its name from this miracle; "incarnation" is the ancient theological word for God in the flesh, God with a body. (Check out Josie's excellent blog about this!) Anglican essayist Dorothy Sayers wrote this of the incarnation:

"What it means is this: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is -- limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death -- God had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine."

In this year of pandemic and protest, that "medicine" seems especially bitter. We have all tasted suffering and sorrows and death. And yet we have a With-Us God who drank even more deeply of the same medicine, who knows our pain, who took on the sins and sorrows of the whole world in his human body. God is not aloof; he is tender. He is not over there; he is right here. This is comforting, guilt-forgiving, peace-bringing news. Or as the angels said to the shepherds, it's "glad tidings of great joy for all people."

This week's outreach update is simply an invitation to extend the edges of that joy "for all people." Do you know someone who feels lonely, disconnected, confused, angry, ashamed -- in need of the love of our With-Us God? Consider inviting them to Zoom Christmas Eve (4pm) or Christmas Day (9am) services. Links to join will be posted to the Virtual Advent page. We will make every effort to welcome them with arms wide open and just a touch of that friendly Incarnation weirdness. We are praying that our Christmas celebrations will draw people who identify with the extra figure in the Sungs' nativity set above. People who may feel that they are outside of God's story but are curious, drawing near, leaning in to catch a glimpse.

We will also pray on Sunday for an outreach partner that is making the With-Us God real and accessible "for all people" just a little further down the Pike near Bailey's Crossroads. One Voice Fellowship is a pre-launch church plant, just as we were a couple years ago (they are in the equivalent to our squeezing-into-the-Grays'-living-room phase). Liz and I met the pastor earlier this year and were so impressed by his experience, his vision, his humility, and especially his incredible multi-lingual, multi-ethnic team. We gave One Voice a small gift from some extra outreach money this summer, and we are delighted to be partners in prayer and ministry. They've created this video about their vision; watch, enjoy, ask questions, and join us in prayer for their ministry!

Questions? Thoughts? Email me:


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