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Faith in action for Dec. 23

December 23, 2010
The Rev. Celeste Lasich

Christ United Presbyterian Church

Free Community Christmas Eve Dinner

5-6:30 p.m. at Christ United Presbyterian Church

The first year Darrel Hoogheem lived in Marshall, he found himself all alone Christmas Eve. For the first time he had no one to share a holiday meal with on that holy night. Although he never repeated that lonely Christmas Eve, Darrell never forgot how awful he felt and wanted to make sure no one else in Marshall experienced that painful isolation.

Darrell and Lori, their children and friends cooked and served the annual Christmas Eve dinner at Christ United Presbyterian Church for many years. When their life took them out of town in the colder months, the church stepped in to carry on their practice of warm and welcoming hospitality.

This Friday we are honored once again to welcome friends and guests to share in the loving, joyous spirit of the season with a free community Christmas Eve feast.

In the spirit of Jesus who always welcomed strangers, everyone is welcome! Many people have made this delightful meal a traditional part of their Christmas Eve, including families who found they could spend the time enjoying each other rather than stressing about preparing a meal. Those who might otherwise be alone, always find a table of friendly companions to brighten their evening. Many stay for the 6:30 p.m. service to enjoy familiar carols, remember the ancient, yet ever new story of God's great love for the world and rest in the soft glow of candlelight. The sanctuary promises to be particularly beautiful this year.

The care and preparation of that space is also an act of willing love.

Jesus' hospitality is put into action by a host of enthusiastic volunteers. Chief Cook Carrie Colvin-Murphy has been hard at work lining up turkeys, real potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the delightful trimmings for a holiday feast. Dozens of kitchen and dining room helpers from around the community make the season bright while they peel potatoes, prepare stuffing, set and clear tables, always with a smile. On Christmas Eve, festive punch and friendly hosts welcome each guest into the bright and cheerful dining room. This meal is love in human form in the spirit of Emmanuel God-with-us. In all we do, we seek to honor Jesus, the Light of the world whom alone we trust and follow.

Each year we have been blessed by the quiet arrival of the Christmas Eve Elves, a wonderful group who appear to clean up after the meal so that our cooks and helpers can be part of the 6:30 Candlelight Service. Carrie especially needs to do a quick change from chief cook to vocal soloist. The Elves know our kitchen so well that by the time services are over, everything is put away and spotless. Thank God for the Christmas Elves!

Christ United is located in downtown Marshall - the light brick church with the blue sign across the street from the Wells Fargo Drive-Through. The dinner is served downstairs and everyone is welcome to the meal and for Candlelight Services at 6:30 p.m. Donations are gratefully accepted to help fund next year's meal, but not expected.

May you truly know and share the blessings of Christ in this season of Light and Love.



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