(This message is part of our Imagining Abundance giving campaign. If you’d like to donate directly, you can click here to do so.)By Jess Cook
Like many of you, last week I attended a Christmas Eve service at the church where I spent my formative years. Sitting in the pew with my son’s head in my lap, I remembered countless Sundays throughout my childhood when it was my head on my mother’s lap. The service opened with the same rendition of “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” sung by the same beloved choir member for the last 40 years. The same poinsettias lined the steps to the chancel where I once sang “Oh Holy Night,” where I delivered my first sermon, on youth Sunday nearly 25 years ago. This congregation has been through a great deal of change over the last decade, and I was struck by the things that remained constant through so much transition.
As is the case with so many things in life, a sea of familiarity often magnifies difference, and my mom’s whispers through the service shone even more light on these differences in the church of my childhood. The trans youth sitting across the center aisle was getting support from his parents and grandparents. The soloist for “O Holy Night” is an openly gay man and follows More Light. I spoke with the pastor briefly after the service about preaching and leading a More Light Workshop sometime in 2020. For a congregation that lost 75% of its members after the denomination approved ordination for LGBTQIA+ people, I felt I was bearing witness to what happens when a community moves through pain and loss, but they do it together. It’s a familiar narrative for so many folks I meet through More Light: stories of a congregation imagining abundance in the face of scarcity, of choosing welcome and trusting the Spirit to guide and be with them as they move through uncertainty, fear, or loss, knowing that, whatever the outcome, the journey will reveal a deeper understanding of who they are and who they are called to be.
We are in the last few days of our Imagining Abundance giving campaign. We have almost reached our $5000 that will be matched by the More Light Board of Directors. 2019 has been a year full of abundance and we look forward to all that awaits us in 2020. Perhaps we will see you in person at the Montreat College Conference, the Association of Presbyterian Educators (APCE) Conference, or at NEXT Church. Maybe we’ll get to know you through our next cohort of More Light Ambassadors, or you’ll watch a More Light Teach-In with your congregation or campus group. Or maybe you’ll see one of our memes on social media, or you’ll spot a pronoun button in the narthex of a More Light church. Whether you can give $5, $25, $50, $100, or $500, every dollar helps equip congregations to imagine abundance. Join us today.