I wrote to our elders in a Christmas card this week that while the holidays seem to always make us nostalgic—as a faith community we are particularly so this year as we celebrate Christmas for the first time outside of the sanctuary at 400 High Street—a sanctuary that some of you knew and loved for many, many years. We continue to thank God for all those years of ministry—and for the gifts and graces brought to the Congregational Church of West Medford by so many members, friends and Christmas visitors. We also take the time to thank God for the gift of a new kind of sanctuary—Sanctuary United Church of Christ, a beautiful vision for us and a gift to those not yet with us made possible through 140 years of commitment, hard work, generous giving, and faithful presence. God with us, we say “Thanks and Wow”!
We are so excited about that which is to come and we ask for your prayers for this fledgling and very bold vision we are carrying into the new year—this vision of being sanctuary. There is much to be done to make that vision a reality, but as we sink into the coming of Emmanuel, we will stop for a bit to be sanctuary to each other.
On Christmas Eve, we will be worshipping jointly in a Lessons and Carols service at 5:30 pm with North Prospect Union at their Hillside location at 144 North Street, Medford. Then at 11:00 pm we will hold a contemplative candlelight service at Sanctuary UCC at 458 High Street. We will be a soft, sweet, simple place of sanctuary on Christmas Eve as we await the coming of Christ. If you are able, we hope you will come for that service and bring a little food item to share as we pass around the light of Christ and sing of the most sacred and silent night of the Christian year.
We pray that if you are not with us, that you find a faith community with which to worship this Christmas and that it feels like home (and maybe reminds you a little of us), makes real the love of God and carries the Light of the World into your heart. On behalf of the staff and the congregation of Sanctuary UCC, we wish you a very, merry Christmas and a happy and loving New Year.
With blessing and prayer,
Rev. Wendy Miller Olapade (firstname.lastname@example.org)