It’s a wonderful time to be the church
December 25, 2021
My Christmas ritual is viewing “Black Nativity: A Gospel Christmas Musical Experience.” Adapted from Langston Hughes’ Christmas classic “Black Nativity,” the production is a powerful rendition of the Christmas story. It is filled with thrilling voices, exciting dance, spectacular costumes and glorious gospel music. Hughes originally wrote “Black Nativity” in 1961, at the height of the civil rights movement; it is more moving with every production.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of my ritual of attending this play. Three decades. In 2020, COVID-19 restrictions kept me from attending in person. Hearing there would be no live performances felt like Christmas was not coming. Yet, I realized my disappointment paled in comparison to the many lost loved ones, jobs, homes and the ability to attend regular Sunday worship services.
Alas, the quarantine produced an unexpected gift. Atlanta-based Dominion Entertainment Group recorded an amazing production of the play, complete with all of my favorite Atlanta artists, at the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. The recording was made available for everyone to “attend” from the safety of their own homes.
Christmas came. I secured a copy of the production (and its soundtrack!) to enjoy from home. Not only did I enjoy the recording last year, but it was mine to enjoy for years to come.
While seeing it in person is its own joy, knowing that I have options that keep me and others safe is something that I truly celebrate. I also celebrate knowing that many of us now have these same options for Sunday worship. I’ve learned to enjoy crisp bacon and warm muffins while viewing a powerful message! Sipping a freshly brewed cup of coffee while viewing a spirit-inspired worship in my recliner is a beautiful alternative on cold rainy mornings.
I’ve also enjoyed sharing our church’s broadcast with friends and family who could not (or would not) have attended before. What a gift! Are you encouraging others to tune in to your church’s worship? Have you had a chance to visit other churches that you never had an opportunity to visit before? What about sharing your church with those who would never come inside?
Now the good news is available for everyone to enjoy in the privacy of their own homes with their family and friends. This is a wonderful time of year! What a wonderful time to be the church! Christ still comes to us. Christ comes to all! Behold, there are good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people (Luke 2:10).
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Rev. Carlton David Johnson, Coordinator, Vital Congregations, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Saturday, December 25, 2021, the Nativity of Jesus Christ
Christmas: At Dawn
First Reading Isaiah 62:6-12
Second Reading Titus 3:4-7
Gospel Luke 2:(1-7) 8-20
Christmas: Christmas Day
First Reading Isaiah 52:7-10
Second Reading Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12)
Gospel John 1:1-14
Today’s Focus: Merry Christmas
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Kevin Garvey, Funds Development Specialist, Presbyterian Foundation
Margaret Gay, Associate, International Property, World Mission, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us pray
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray
Thank you for keeping us
Through multiple pandemics
Through dangers, seen and unseen
Thank you for opening our eyes
To the many ways
That you are making yourself known
And available to all people.