Bay Area Pastors Share Their Christmas Message
Churches around the Bay Area will be packed today and tomorrow for Christmas services, with parishioners celebrating the birth of a boy in a manger in Bethlehem.
KQED’s Cy Musiker talked to a few local pastors for a preview of their Christmas message.
“I’m Jane Shaw, the dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
“I’ll be preaching on Christmas Eve, at our big midnight mass service, which begins at 11 o’clock at night and is always very crowded.
“This year I’ve been thinking about the ways in which we approach a very familiar story — this story of the birth of this child, in a pretty out-of-the-way place, when there was no room at the inn. How do we hear that anew, how do we respond to it.
“This year at Grace Cathedral, we’ve been celebrating the year of music, because it’s the 100th anniversary of our choir of men and boys. We’ve had a lot of wonderful music. So how do we respond to this extraordinary story, through our imaginations, through art, through music.
“You might say that the angels who sing about this. You know, in the gospel of Luke. They sing, they’re the first carolers. And then the shepherds praise Jesus, so maybe they’re the second carolers.
“But there’s another response too, isn’t there? Here is God in the form of a small baby. This extraordinary story, really, of God coming to be with us.
“If that little baby, that stranger in the inn, is God incarnate, then how do we respond to the stranger? How do we reach out to others? How do we reach out to those we don’t know? How do we reach out to those for whom there’s no room at the inn?
“And so we might respond to these stories with our imagination. But I hope we’ll also respond to these stories with our hearts reaching out to others.”
“My name is Father Jay Matthews. I’m the pastor of St. Benedict Parish in East Oakland. I’ve been the pastor here 24 years. We’ve had our many, many challenges in this parish, but there is also a great deal of hope.
“One of the emphases that I share with our parish community, is that the materialism isn’t as important as the spirituality of this season: a season of hope, a season of peace, a season of joy.
“And how do we bring that joy and hope in the midst of a lot of sadness in our community? Where there’s a great deal of violence, where there is joblessness, where there is homelessness. We struggle as best we possibly can, not just to address those issues, but to change those issues in our midst.
“Then, you know, recently, we lost a great world figure in Nelson Mandela. For me, as I’m sharing my Christmas homily, he really and truly epitomized what it means to forgive and to be reconciled. The way that he was able to do that for a nation, is what we should be about each and every day. Where the forgiveness and the mercy that is extended to us by God, can be shared with one another. And then the reconciliation, that really and truly can take place, because I believe we can never ever have peace without reconciliation.”
“My name is Shinya Goto, and I’m the senior Pastor of San Jose First United Methodist Church.
“We moved into this new building in the middle of November, and we were without a building for 22 years because of a fire.
“And if you can just imagine the people who have been without a building for 22 years … it is an emotional time for them to be in the new building, and to have this candlelight service. This is something they’ve been waiting for for a long time.
“When I look around, I see a lot of people that are hurting. In San Jose, there are people that are living in poverty, people they don’t have jobs, people that are going through emotional, financial and physical struggles. And they need to know that God cares. That’s the message, that God saw the world that was hurting and came to be with us. And so it was as relevant two thousand years ago as it is today.”
“My name is servant B.K. Woodson, Sr. I am the Pastor and founder of the Bay Area Christian Connection. My Christmas sermon will be preached at Allen Temple Baptist Church.
“I am going to talk about this miracle that happens, with this baby boy born on the back side of Bethlehem in a barn. A baby born with nothing. And when Jesus is brought into the Temple to be circumcised, Simeon says, ‘This is the hope of our nation.’
“And what I want our children to experience, is older people, parents believing in them, that they are the hope of the nation. What would it be like, if a boy born on the back side of Oakland, when they came out of Children’s Hospital, someone lifted them up and said, ‘This is the hope of Oakland.’ He’d be raised different, and when we give our children an imagination of greatness, you know what, they’ll grow up and be great.”
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