A Christmas Invitation and Prayer

Years ago at my ordination my mother gave me a stack of books. She had asked around to trusted pastors what they enjoyed reading, and she purchased several of those recommendations for me. They have informed my prayer life, sermon preparation, and thought formation ever since. Two of my favorites are books of poetry by Ann Weems: Kneeling in Bethlehem and Kneeling in Jerusalem. They are both outstanding: fun, emotional, wonderful, powerful, and creative.

Christmas Eve is only a couple of days away, and I look forward to celebrating our first Christmas at Grace. The following poem is from Kneeling in Bethlehem. I love the line about sitting down to bread and wine with strangers. We'll receive communion at the 7:00 and 11:00 services Saturday night, alongside many pilgrims whose only, or first, journey to Bethlehem is this hour via Grace United Methodist Church.

God So Loved the World

The story of Jesus Christ is this:
The people of this earth waited for a Messiah... a Savior... and only God would send a little baby king.
The child grew and began to question things as they were,
and the man moved through his days and through his world, questioning the system of kings and priests and marketplace.
He was called
the New Creation
the New Covenant
the Son of God
who brought to all who listened
who saw
who understood
change and new life.
But kings and corporations and churches of this world
work very hard
to keep things as they are out and to forever Amen.
And so they killed him:
he would said, Love one another,
he who said, Feed my sheep,
for they didn't want to share their bread and wine.
Now the story should have ended there
except that the story has always been
that our God is the God of the covenant.
The Good News is that
in spite of our faithlessness
God is faithful
and Jesus Christ was resurrected,
for God so loved the world
that God gave his only begotten Son
that whoever believed
might have everlasting Life.
Listen, you who have ears to hear.
Listen, and sit down to bread and wine with strangers.
Feed his sheep... Love one another,
and claim new life in his name.