We hosted the first interfaith community-focused Live Nativity last weekend. And our campus was packed. The weeks of work & planning, several meetings over a few short months, all came together to have a campus filled with families of all shapes & sizes enjoying animals, live music, warm food, hay rides, & a community-focused event of fun. Almost everyone I talked to said it was a great success, an event they’d like to see us repeat. From strangers to congregants alike, nearly everyone agreed it was fun, warm, & a faith-filled holiday tradition they’d like to see us continue. Almost everyone.


Two people told me I was the only friendly encounter they’d had at the event. Other people had ignored them, failing to greet them & make sure they felt the warmth of welcome & the spirit of Christmas joy. They’d come to the event because they’d seen the sign on the corner & were looking forward to hearing the music. Thankfully, after we chatted briefly, they stayed long enough to get some food & enjoy the music for a little while before leaving. It’s funny, isn’t it, when we are on the inside of something so magnificent & wonderful we fail to see & understand how the stranger in our midst can feel left out from the fun & celebration.


I think we do a pretty good job at Song of Life on Sunday mornings, welcoming the strangers in our midst, regardless of how they look or how different they may present from us. But do we do the same on Saturday night? Do we welcome people of different races, orientations, clothing preferences, national identities, or other obviously different markers from us? Mary, a young, very pregnant girl, not yet married, was told she wasn’t welcome to stay in a room when she arrived at the place of the Savior’s birth. How are we, like the innkeeper, still telling people they aren’t welcome in the room of our lives? How are we, like the innkeeper, the gatekeepers of welcome & dismissal in the daily lives of others? A smile & eye contact go a long way; that’s all it took for these strangers to talk with me & then find me again when they realized I was the pastor to let me know the challenges they’d faced in feeling unwelcome. Sometimes, it’s not so much what we do as what we don’t do that lets people know they can be a part of us or not. As we finish this season’s journey to the manager, I wonder what you are doing in the space beyond Sunday morning to let people know you see them in the fullness of their formation & that they are welcome in the everyday moments of your life. 


In Christ’s Love,