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Meaningful worship doesn’t necessarily rely on the traditional Presbyterian Sunday morning centerpiece — a well-crafted and carefully-exegeted 20-minute sermon.
During the holidays, we find ourselves wrapping the babe born in Bethlehem in a thick blanket woven with the threads of sentimental love. We sing hymns about how love came down from heaven. We light the fourth candle around the Advent wreath — referred to as the “love” candle in most wreath-lighting liturgies — and bask in its warm glow. It’s all very comforting. Yet the love God gave to the world in the way of Jesus is not about feelings. It’s about action. It was seen in Mary’s “yes” to be the Christotokos, the “Christ-bearer.” It was illustrated by Joseph taking Mary as his wife, even though she was carrying a child that was not his. It rang through the night skies as angels sang of salvation to the shepherds.
In the fall of 2018, youth at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center (BAJCC) in Chesterfield County, Virginia, asked to start a gospel choir. The request reached the Rev. Lauren Ramseur and the Rev. Ashley Diaz Mejias who, along with friends, collaborated to support the initiative. Ramseur and Mejias soon discovered that they were “doing church” — gathering twice a month at the correctional center for a community of worship. The group named themselves the Voices of Jubilee.
We give thanks for your goodness and mercy toward us. We are grateful for your loving kindness and care for your children through the ages. We thank you for your protection and correction. And we thank you that we of all genders, ethnicities and racialization bear the imprint of your caring nature.