Go tell it on the mountain . . .that Jesus Christ is born!
– African-American Spiritual
‘Tis the season of gifts and giving! More than that, Christmas is a time to get in touch with what it means to give. When we give, something happens to us, as well as to the recipient!
Many of the gifts we give at Christmas are wrapped and placed under the tree. But there are so many others . . . the gift of friendship to someone who is lonely, the gift of compassion to someone who is hurting, the gift of forgiveness for someone who has hurt us, the gift of patience for those who are anxious. These gifts are everlasting. Long after the toys have been cast aside, the sweaters worn out, the perfume used up, these gifts will yet remain. They are eternal.
I want to suggest another unique way for us to give this Christmas, one that also could have lasting value. There’s a story about William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. Booth spent most of his years reaching out to the destitute on the streets of London. This story may be apocryphal, but it has an important message:
Each Christmas there was a tradition in London that the churches would send out representatives to the streets to invite the poor to a Christmas celebration. Huge crowds would gather for this annual burst of generosity. The Anglicans would begin by announcing, “All of you who are Anglicans, come with us.” Then it was the Roman Catholics: “All who are Catholic, come with us.” Then the Methodists, the Lutherans, and all the other denominations announced, “Whoever belongs to us, come with us.” Finally, when all of the church representatives had made their invitations, a large crowd of people still was milling about. At that point William Booth would shout out to the people, “All of you who belong to no one, come with me.”
Hospitality is a hallmark of Dayspring UMC. We might well shout on the streets, “All of you in the East Valley who belong to no one, come with us. All who have become disillusioned with organized religion come with us. All who have been rejected by others, who are weary and heavy-laden, come with us, and God will give you rest. All who wish to be a part of a community where everybody is somebody, come with us.”
Let your gift, then, be an invitation. Invite your friends, relatives, neighbors, associates & acquaintances who may be looking for a faith community to one of our five Christmas Eve services – 3, 5, 7, 9 & 11pm – which promise to be inspiring and inclusive worship experiences. And there’s no safer time than Christmas to invite someone to church!
You might also consider inviting family, colleagues and neighbors to the Dayspring Chorale Christmas Concert on Dec. 6 at 7:00pm and our Children’s Christmas Pageant on Dec. 13 at 8:30 & 10:00am.
May the love, hospitality and generosity of the one whose birth we celebrate at Christmas touch your heart and fill your life with meaning and purpose.
In the Love of that First Christmas,