Tonight we will gather – an eclectic group, to say the least. Though most of us live in or near the same small town, we come from many different places.
We are Mexicans and Americans. We are also Thai, South African, and even Texan. We speak many different languages (including Hebrew!) but will limit ourselves to two (or possibly three) for our service this evening.
We are those who come from plenty, and those who survive and often thrive even in the midst of want – be it materially, emotionally, or spiritually. Tonight we will share with one another – in food, in wine, in conversation, in love and in laughter.
We will gather to sing, to speak, to offer light in the midst of the darkness of what is predicted to be a chilly winter’s night. We will eat together. We will drink together. We will add our individual lights to a bonfire that we hope will warm us in the midst of the cold.
Amongst those who will gather will be some who call themselves Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Atheist, Protestant, Mormon, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Science of the Mind and even a JW or two (don’t tell) – but also many who find themselves outside the traditional categories of religion, faith, or belief.
There are those in this world who decry the use of the word ‘holiday’ in place of ‘Christmas,’ siting it as further eroding of our religious heritage. But regardless of the name given to it, this evening will truly be a ‘holy-day’ – a time of transcending the boundaries that normally keep our world so neatly divided between the ‘us’ and the ‘them’ – tonight there will just be ‘we.’
There have been those who ask, why in the world would this group gather together for such a service? How is there possibly anything in common amongst such a wide diversity of background, class, culture, and religious opinion – or lack thereof? What is the point? Why bother?
For me, the answer is simple – though I hope not simplistic. It is, according to the custom of Jesus of Nazareth, an answer that is, in return, a question.
Why would I want to be anywhere else?