One of the recent phenomenons that has engaged me recently is teaching my children about dead ends. On many streets in our community they would see the signs and attempt to understand their meaning. Dead ends are about streets where there are no other exits so one is forced to stop and turn around. “And what if you cannot turn around?” they may asked. Christmas can be captured as a story of how God works when life proclaims a dead end. At the heart of the Christmas story is the culmination of the work of God when numerous persons encountered dead end situations.
We witness Mary struggling to cope with an unexpected pregnancy at a young age. We witness Joseph struggling to accept fatherhood of a child that he did not conceive. We witness a community struggling to pay taxes to an unjust system. We witness wise men who may have known the spice routes from India to Europe but struggling to find a star that leads to an offbeat city called Bethlehem and we witness shepherds struggling to maintain their families in a dead end job. This culminates when they all gather at a dead end place, an animal shelter with a cradle made out of the most rudimentary of material. It is within the midst of this portrait of dismal dead ends that God declares his omniscient presence.
My friends at the heart Christmas story is the junction where faith in an active and loving God collides with the indomitable human spirit. The outcome is an outpouring of thanksgiving, hope and renewal. When the world says dead end God declared fresh starts with a dynamic shift in trajectory.
The urban church is located at that same junction within our communities. That is what makes us not only unique in terms of ministry but having that effervescence faith that cannot be quenched.
At St. Elizabeth’s we share in that holy collision through the many new and exciting collaborations which allowed us to bring hope and joy to many within our communities. We collaborated with “Be the Change NJ” based at Kean University, The Pingry School in Bernardsville, Union County Drug Court and Mountainside Presbyterian Church who together donated toys and food in order for us to host the biggest Christmas party ever for the children in our community. We also donated food to over 300 families and a local Food Bank. This year for our parish Christmas concert the Elizabeth High School jazz band takes center stage and for our Christmas worship we would be joined by the choir of First Presbyterian of Irvington, N.J
St Elizabeth’s is physically and spiritually located at junction where hopelessness and dead ends collide with spirit of the living God who declares “Joy overcomes pain, hope conquers despair and light shines into darkness. Our message to our community, to the many dispirited , disheartened and discouraged in our communities many of whom are still struggling with the scourge of mass incarceration is simple this “God is waiting for you at the junction, come and have a fresh encounter.”
Join us as we celebrate Christmas “Emmanuel is Here!”
Elizabeth High School Jazz Band Concert
7:00 P.M. , Thursday, December 21, 2017
10:00 A.M., Sunday December 24, 2017
7:00 P.M., Sunday December 24, 2017