Comfort and Joy - Issue #111
Glenbrook Korean United Methodist Church in Northbrook, Illinois, has a new Christmas Eve tradition that focuses on the realities the Holy Family experienced on the first Christmas Eve as a poor family with no place to stay.
In 2008 during a visit to a local community services center, Pastor Young M. Park learned that there would be no one at the center to feed the homeless on Christmas Eve because, understandably, the regular staff and volunteers were spending the evening with their own families.
The pastor was troubled thinking about those who would have a cold night on the street with empty stomachs while members of his congregation ate a good meal, participated in a beautiful worship service, and returned home to open presents. With the nudging of the Holy Spirit, he cancelled the traditional Christmas Eve service and challenged the church to celebrate the coming of Christ by going out to the streets and feeding the homeless.
The first year 35 people volunteered to serve, and the congregation raised $1,500 for food and presents. In the years following, other area churches helped provide gifts. Last year, more tha 100 homeless people were served on Christmas Eve.
Many church members have witnessed that their faith has become more vibrant and Christmas has become more meaningful as they celebrate with their homeless neighbors. By going beyond the walls of their warm and comfortable sanctuary, the congregation has met strangers in need and Christ in their midst.
Some Questions for Discussion
- How would people in your congregation react to replacing a beloved and comfortable tradition with one that moves them to the edges of their comfort zones?
- Where have you recently experienced Christ in your midst?
- How is your congregation encouraging and equipping people to grow in their faith through relationships with the most vulnerable?