*The Call to Show up and Be Counted:
*One: In the year of Quirinius, all the people were called to return to their family’s home city and there to be registered:
All: So Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, though it was late in Mary’s pregnancy and she was heavy with child.
One: The journey was hard and as they neared Bethlehem, Mary was certain her time to deliver the child was near.
We have no room in our lives for the most vulnerable, the most fragile and tender. We shut our doors in fear of the stranger, the foreigner. You say we are related to you? But you don’t look familiar to us. We only have so much room, but if you want, you can sleep in the barn tonight.
Your wife is pregnant? Ready to deliver? I’m so sorry, that’s not my problem.
Statement of Belief
We believe that something came into being that night, in the damp, cold of the barn, that changed our world forever. It took the courage of a teenage girl and the humility of a strong man to make ready the way. Their yes to this strange event brought forth hope and began something we didn’t understand, couldn’t even begin to foresee.
We have always believed that God was present with us, even in the unfriendly darkness, the lonely, empty times, in the waiting, where fear and courage join hands, conflict and caring link arms, where the sun rises over walls meant to separate and divide us. Now we see that God is with us. God has become a child that we might raise him, God has become enfleshed that we might hold him. God sits down in our midst and shares a meal with us, a fish fry on the beach with drinks and laughter and long stories that sometimes miss the point.
We affirm a faith that began in a barn, outside the safe, warm, appropriate places. We affirm a faith that asks us to stand outside of our own safe places, to enter into the margins, to embrace the foreigner, the stranger, the weirdos and strange people. We affirm that we are moved to live outside the lines of propriety where winners and losers are defined, and into a space where all of God’s beloved people are cherished, and loved, and welcome.
Oh, speaking of strange people, here they come….
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justice now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.