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written and compiled by Timothy Siburg, Messiah North County Mission Developer
One of the things you may not know about North County is that communion is done a bit differently here. Communion is served each week, like it is done at every weekend service at Messiah’s Hazel Dell campus. What makes it unique at North County is that the whole worshipping congregation takes the meal together in one line spread across the room. It’s like a whole bunch of people all around one table at the same time. Everyone gathers in the line and receives the sacrament, and then stays until everyone else has received it and then are blessed and dismissed back to our seats in peace.
That’s usually how it works, anyway. This past Sunday we did something a little differently, but something I have come to learn is not outside the norm for North County.
Instead of our normal post-communion prayer, Pr. Peter invited us to remain standing up front in the worship space and to gather around one of our brothers in Christ, Mark. We were invited to lay hands on Mark, and from what I could tell, everyone not only circled around Mark, but extended at least one hand onto him or someone right around him. The power of the Holy Spirit was alive and moving in that prayer.
In the coming days, Mark will have a surgery that he has been hoping and preparing for, for nearly two years. As Pr. Peter put it, Mark has waited longer than Mary or Elizabeth (or any woman for that matter) carries a child in their womb. That’s a lot of waiting and hoping. This week I invite you to hold Mark and his family, as well as the doctors in your prayer for a successful surgery and a healthy and positive recovery.
I share this both as a prayer request and to tell the story of North County. I also share this with you this week, because it seems like a fitting Christmas reflection. I am reminded of these words of promise and hope from Isaiah:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in darkness– on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest...For the yoke of their burden and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian...For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” - Isaiah 9:2-7, NRSV
This is the Old Testament lesson appointed for Christmas Eve, and we hear the good news of the Child who we know as Jesus being born in the world. It is this incarnation and birth that lead to the life, death, and resurrection of the Son that give us the hope to trust and proclaim God’s love and promises. It is what makes the sacrament of communion possible, where we come together united as Children of God in spite of any differences of opinions, perspectives, and viewpoints we may have. We are all God’s children. It’s also what makes it possible to be Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
This Christmas, we pray for Mark, our brother in Christ. We also pray for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We give thanks for the Good News of the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace” who has come near to us. May we proclaim this good news and share this joy with all we meet.
Christmas Blessings to all of you! - Timothy
To see what other things Timothy is reading and writing about, click here or the photo above to link to his personal website on "Thoughts on Leadership, Church, and The Neighbor" where he posts nearly every day.