“Our church no longer holds a Christmas Fair,” this minister/colleague sniffed, “Instead we concentrate on the real work of the church.”
And to that I say, “Bah, humbug!”
I know that selling Christmas knickknacks isn’t the mission of the church. More important – so do the members of my congregation.
But in these days leading up to our Holly Fair, our church has been filled with sounds of people talking and laughing as they create displays and sort through ornaments, angels, and brightly colored candles. It is especially sweet after 18 long months of isolation and distancing. Simply being together again – even with masks on! – is priceless.
They know that they are raising money to support the mission and outreach of our church.
As people wend their way between craft tables, jewelry displays, and an array of gift items, they will see the signs and symbols of our welcome and hospitality that are the cornerstones of our ministry. They’ll notice our rainbow flags, “safe space” signs and declarations of welcome for all of God’s people. Maybe they’ll take home a brochure about our prayers shawl ministry or be inspired by the invitation to donate sheets and blankets to the homeless shelter. Perhaps they’ll see the sign advertising our food giveaway program or fuel assistance program.
Our Christmas fair allows us to swing open our doors and invite people inside. And while they are here, they are welcome to enter our beautiful sanctuary and perhaps pause for a few moments of quiet and rest in our pews. Maybe this low-key experience of quiet beauty will encourage them to return on a Sunday morning or tune in to an online service.
Events like these offer us the chance to embody our welcome and to live out the Good News of meeting our neighbors and sharing God’s love.
So go ahead you Winter Wonderlands, Candy Cane Bazaars, Christmas on the Hill, St. Nicholas Fairs – enjoy your gatherings! And know that is one more way to reach out to God’s people and celebrate the Good News.