Randy Innes- Heritage District
“God enacts justice for orphans and widows, and God loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)
Each year, a Celebracion de Navidad (Celebration of Christmas) is held at La Estrella Resplandeciente (The Shining Star), located in Stanhope, a place where people of the Capital and Heritage Districts have engaged in ministry with Hispanic-Latino migrant families since 2003.
I always look forward to the dramatic Presentacion do Los Ninos by children and youth, followed by a shared meal around brightly adorned tables. After eating together, red and green gift bags of the extra-extra-large variety are shared with the children. Watching the youngest among them make the valiant effort to carry their Christmas gift bag is an indescribable joy for all. Faces are bright. Smiles and hugs abound.
This Celebracion is a highlight of the Christmas season. It is like the painting of an icon where Christ is at the center, and all are welcomed. From many places, young and old have come to celebrate Jesus’ birth. In Christ, strangers have become friends. In the sharing of lives and gifts—in loving our neighbor as ourselves—we have discovered joy, hope, and peace. In Christ we are one. This beautiful image, this icon, stays with me throughout the year.
God of grace, we give you thanks for the global nature of our United Methodist Church, where people of every nation, language, and people are united in Christ. Through spirit-led conversations, as we listen and speak from our hearts, guide our church and our Commission on A Way Forward to that place where peace, joy, hope, and your love are revealed. Build bridges of understanding through shared community and broad hospitality. Paint an icon—an image—with Christ at the center, welcoming all. Amen.