When You Lose Community At Christmas

by | Dec 14, 2012 | Uncategorized


For many years our family found intimate community inside the walls of a church of thousands on Christmas Eve. This year, in our small seaside town, we’re wondering where we will worship, if anyone will notice our absence.

In the early days of ministry, our backyard met the asphalt of the mega church parking lot in Phoenix, where my husband served as one of fifteen pastors. On Christmas Eve, we padded our shiny shoes through a backyard battlefield of pecans; hair haloed by orange trees, their bounty brushing our velvet and lace.  We pushed the wooden gate open like the closet door of Narnia, into the sun setting golden over the desert, bouncing her light shadows off rows of windshields and arms swinging gift bags.

And seventy-five people followed us back home.

Will you join me over at BibleDude.net to finish the story? I’d love to meet you there in the comments today.

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  1. Susan McIntyre

    For the second Christmas Eve in one year we will find ourselves back at the church we left in 2003. I thought last year would be hard because our parting had been tense to say the least, but we were welcomed “home” like long lost relatives. Some of the members didn’t know us or our family’s history at the small church and that was strange. Those that had preceded us back to the parish rushed to welcome us and those that we had left behind those many years ago welcomed us home. We have now left some of our dear friends with whom we shared Christmas and every major event in life and death for years. It’s hard to talk about church and the whys and wherefores. I think all of us have had enough pain and soul searching. We are still the same people we were in 2003, but we have returned to the church family that loved us, fought with us, and loved us again. There is no blame to assign. We did what we had to do then and we are doing what we need to do now. We are reconciled. The Millers and the McIntyre-Redferns have traveled a long road and no matter what “church” our journeys take us to we will always remember and love you. We have noticed your absence for several years now and are better for your continued presence in our lives regardless of proximity. You are in our hearts and that is very close indeed.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Wow Susan, what a full-circle story. I didn’t know you were back there. I’m glad you are content and feel at home. We will always treasure people like you who loved us well during the good times and the bad. Sending a big hug from all of us your way.

  2. Sylvia R

    This may sound odd, but I know from experience this is more than possible: I pray that you will have your most meaningful Christmas yet!
    God bless it!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank you Sylvia. Nothing is odd when you follow Jesus long enough. 🙂 He’s made me a believer in the impossible.

  3. lynndmorrissey

    Such a beautiful and poignant post,Shelly. For whatever reason, I can never read the comments at Bible Dude, so I leave mine here, along with my empathy and prayers that God will direct you to a new place of community to worship Him and uphold you in worship as you search. It sounds to me as if your decision was more consequential than choosing between a beef or chicken entree, and while God commands us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the custom of some, there are times when we must part company for important reasons, and set our sails to a new place of worship and fellowship. And even if the reason for parting is good, it’s painful–like the ripping apart of one flesh in a divorce. It hurts. I’m so sorry for your present pain, but I am rejoicing that you are feeling surrounded by His Presence, and that He is giving you contentment wherever your plates are set. I think of that Psalm (without time to look it up) about how God bids us to open wide our mouth, and He will fill it. He will fill you, Shelly. You may not be sampling the Mexican chili con queso, but I think you are feasting on His manna con Spirito, and in this you will be satisfied. In this, you will rest content. And what joy to know that you and your family are *together* as you share the feast. How I continue to praise God for sparing your beloved Murielle.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank you for your kindness Lynn, I know your thoughts and prayers are finding answers in my world. And yes, I’m just content knowing we will be together, and that is what matters most.

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