a pilgrim christmas
on christmas morning kellie and i had the opportunity to worship with our friends at pilgrim church in beverly. if you haven't attended pilgrim church, it's almost impossible to describe. the congregation is the most diverse assortment of about 50 pentecostals, presbyterians, world magazine subscribers, christian century writers, fundamentalists, yuppies, hippies, haitians and welfare recipients that you would ever want to meet.
after we sang an off-key classic carol, but before we sang a hastily improvised negro spiritual, we sang an upbeat contemporary worship song that included the line, "lord, let your spirit fill this place." as we sang the line, i was overwhelmed by the avatars of the Spirit that stumbled in for Christmas worship. there was a wild-eyed woman from gloucester crossing who would later - in the quirky congregational response time that is quintessentially "pilgrim" - extol the sermonic abilities of robert schuller, a prayer ministry leader who earlier in the year pissed me off to no end by pinning the tragedies of katrina on "the homosexual convention organizers," and a former witch who, along with her husband, provides accompaniment and tries to provide healing for those who have suffered all forms of religious abuse.
it was at this moment, when i realized that absolutely no-one in this former butcher shop cum church building fit within any sane reckoning of the status quo, that i finally felt in tune with the spirit of Christmas. in his first moments on earth, god chose to incarnate his beauty, goodness and truth to an unlikely contingent of scummy shepherds and persian astrologers. fortunately, as i saw on christmas morning, god still chooses to associate with and run amok among the most unlikely collections of bedraggled and bemused sinners and saints. i was honored to worship christ's incarnation with pilgrim church and am looking forward to continuing to partner with them as we incarnate and await the consummation of christ's kingdom.
at this point i had planned to preach about how we should set aside our insular, consumer-driven "celebrations" of christmas so that we can dedicate the day to incarnating god's beauty, goodness and truth among the people christ would prefer to associate with. but i best get back to work. the christian consumers of the world need me.
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