So much rhetoric about how Christmas has become a consumer driven marketing event and ways to redeem it in the past few weeks. But what about an actual response? It’s easy to type but what is Calgary Church actually doing to be different this holiday season?
Well here are a few reasons why (we’d like to hear your stories too). Let me start by telling a story about how our Christmas party went down.
We were fortunate to combine our Christmas party with two other communities we share space with: King’s Bridge and the House. The party took place on a special evening where we closed the coffee shop down and just hung out over Christmas appetizers and music. In the midst of the party you wouldn’t be able to point out who was from which community because everyone crossed over. It was more important to share community with everyone than it was to draw battles lines on denominational boundaries (not that this happens much today anyways.)
As the evening wore on two moments struck me, and they had little to do with me.
Two individuals who would never fit in or even be permitted entrance into a church took the mic and shared their heart.
The first was ‘Gates’, a man who’s off-again on-again life on the streets has shown glimpses of turning around. He stood up, thanked everyone for the meal, and triumphantly announced that because of the community around him at that moment he was in the best place in his life. It was the best Christmas gift he could ever have: a second chance and hope to pursue his dreams.
His dreams and and life are perhaps meager to most of us, some would scoff at the brevity of his dreams. But in a moment of humility Gates glimpsed to us his heart, a heart transforming, because of the love shared by a community.
Gates would never fit in anywhere else, he would be thrown out of most. But he found friends at the House.
The second man is a friend named Michael, our resident atheist. Micheal reads a lot and is one smart dude (largely a result of his habit of polishing off books on a daily basis). Micheal picked up where Gates left off and in his own sense of bewilderment gave thanks for the past year, for the hospitality and kindness shown by staff and friends, and for essentially including him in our wide family.
Micheal thanked us for our ‘Christian charity’. He didn’t know that we actually like him and it wasn’t charity at all :P He’s just one of the gang.
This isn’t a Christmas story, but a story of friendships unfolding over the course of months or years. You see, how we respond to our community/friends/networks shouldn’t change because we feel we need to offer token charity around Christmas. Rather, our response is guided by our conduct throughout the entire year and beyond.
If our fabric as humans is rooted in the dream of turning brokenness into joy.
Calgary Church actually gears down for Christmas. We don’t try to put on pageants or plan events for suburbanites to hand out free sandwiches to hobos. We try to create an ethos that guides our lives so that through our own transformation we can perhaps preview the same for others.