What We Offer at Christmas: Old First E-pistle 12.16.10

What We Offer at Christmas: Old First E-pistle 12.16.10

Earlier this week I posted “Christmas 2.0: The Modern Story of the Nativity” on the church’s facebook page (still available there or on youtube). It drives home the point about how communication has changed, is changing.

Yesterday, Kris Forrest shared with me her own Old First version of Christmas 2.0. Kris wrote: “Michael, catching up on my FB, I was surprised to find this conversation. We’ve been with one of these people to their church, but I don’t think they realized this is our church.”

LUCY’S FACEBOOK STATUS: Charlie says he wants to see a “Jesus Thing” this weekend. Anybody local know of anything that might fit that bill? (9 hours ago)

BILL’S COMMENT: There is a church on Hainesport-Mount Laurel Road, near Elbo Lane, in Mount Laurel that does a live Nativity. (8 hours ago )

LUCY’S COMMENT: Thanks, Bill. We’ve been meaning to do that. Looks like Sunday night is Nativity Night! (8 hours ago)

BILL’S COMMENT: It really is a great live Nativity, but call first. I think you need timed tickets. (6 hours ago)

JANE’S COMMENT: https://oldfirstucc.org/ This church always has a live nativity. Easy commute, right off the Ben Franklin. And there is a sushi place across the street. What more could you ask for? (5 hours ago)

RAE’S COMMENT: I don’t suppose there’s an Andres Serrano exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum? 😉 (3 hours ago)

JANE’S COMMENT: Rae, not exactly the sentiment he was going for, I think. (3 hours ago)

How nice to find friends planning to come to Old First for their Nativity Night! It’s interesting to note, though: desiring “to see a Jesus Thing” doesn’t mean attending church Sunday morning. Or maybe it’s after they go to worship? Interesting too: I thought we were popular as the church in the city with the live Nativity. But it’s Kisso Sushi Bar across the street!

I am glad we offer the creche’. And since our web address, rather than our name, was how we were referenced, I feel reassured that, before we were quite finished, we debuted the new web site with the creche’ theme.

Every time I’ve walked past since the barnyard was populated on Monday– even in this cold weather and late at night– people have been visiting the animals, the rustic shed, the waiting manger. I hope, somehow, something about it strikes them, but I wonder how exactly the creche’ affects its visitors? Francis of Assisi, first creating a live Nativity scene on Christmas Eve in 1223 in Greccio, Italy, hoped passers-by might be impressed by the poverty and hardship of the Christ child’s birth.

I wonder if we could do more with the creche’? Drew Aldinger, last year’s Joseph, knows of another live Nativity (I’m not sure if it’s the same church referred to in FB exchange) where they take families’ pictures. Or what if some Saturday in Advent, we offered a children’s program?

I also wonder how Kris’ friend Jane knew about our creche’. Did she drive by? Had a friend brought her before? Did she see the notice listed somewhere? Or read Geneva’s book? Or did someone tell her?

Did you know, most people who hear about a congregation or its ministries… they hear about them personally from a friend, colleague or family member? Our Covenant Ministry is about finding ways to share God’s love further. It’s my prayer that each of us will ask ourselves, “How we might invite who into the blessings of Christmas at Old First?”

Each week of Advent, I’ve asked for a moment of silence before the passing of the peace. Our usual “meet-n-greet” mass-hubbub peace-passing is a good thing. But for Christmas, we might consider especially with whom we need to share God’s peace. Likewise, this e-pistle is your pastor asking you, “Take a prayerful moment, pause to discern who you might invite to Christmas.”

There are so many ways to do it. One of you is sending out personal invitations. Another told me she was planning a visit to invite her neighbor. There’s the old-fashioned, handwritten note. A telephone call. An e-mail. We might even create a Facebook event that you could repost on your page! What really matters is only that it’s heartfelt.

Old First is experienced differently by each of us. Far from perfect, or even yet what we hope to be (like our website, we’re still a work in progress), but there’s a “graceful embrace” here… that blessing we receive and surely have to offer others. In fact, because it’s a blessing that comes of God, rather than a finite resource, it grows as it is shared and touches more people.

There’s always room, you’re always welcome at this Inn:

Christmas Eve at Old First

6:30 p.m.: Outdoor service at the Creche’ with live animals and real people
playing Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Shepherds & Kings

7:00 p.m.: Traditional candlelight service (indoors)
(parking — click on visit section of this website– and childcare available)

Faithfully yours,

Michael