Holidays offer ecumenical opportunities
|Baker's Chapel United Methodist Church near Hernando, Miss., presented this nativity scene. An ecumenical approach may allow churches of all sizes to make the message of the season visible. Photo courtesy of Woody Woodrick.|
The holidays will soon be upon us, bringing occasions to be with our families. They offer time to gather to celebrate our unity and connections, share food, tell stories and worship.
This is true for our ecumenical family as well. Thanksgiving and Christmas are times to remember that we are Christians first and denominational members second. This season offers time to join with our Christian brothers and sisters, regardless of denomination, to give thanks and celebrate the gift of Christ to us all.
Thanksgiving -- While ecumenical Thanksgiving services are held in many communities, they are, unfortunately, often poorly attended. Start now to encourage your congregation to take part in this service. Have a mission minute or children's sermon on the importance of celebrating with our Christian family. Check www.gccuic-umc.org for suggestions.
Advent and Christmas -- All Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. We do so in similar ways and different ways.
Living Nativity -- Many churches have living nativities. Work with other churches to keep the nativity populated. Invite others to join your living nativity team or ask if your congregation could participate in one presented by another church.
Christmas Cards -- Encourage members of your congregation to send Christmas cards to the other churches in your community. Instruct them to sign the cards with their name and their home church. For example: "Merry Christmas to all the members of All Saints Episcopal Church. From Mary Christian, First United Methodist Church."
Open House -- Arrange with other churches in your area to have an open house night. Each congregation would offer refreshments and encourage members to visit the other churches in an effort to get to know one another during this special time in the church calendar.
--Wendy Whiteside, associate general secretary, constituency relations and ecumenical formation, General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, New York