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Spirit-Centered Moment: by Rev. Jeff Barrow

Written by Rev. Jeff Barrow

Interim Executive Director of Mt. Cross Ministries

I love to sing Away in a Manger. I love the thought of sojourners finding even an out of the way safe place to stay at night. I love the intimacy of cattle lowing.. But to be restricted to that cozy little postcard probably does not grasp the heart of Luke’s story of the birth of Jesus.

Jesus comes to earth to stand toe to toe with the empires of this world, comes to alter the fabric of human history, comes to teach us a new way of living. If we expect anything less, we may have missed the point.

Christmas for me has always been laden with imperfections. The avalanche of commercialism is always easy to name, so hard to overcome. Even our most noble acts of generosity make us acutely aware of the growing gap between the haves and have nots of this world. As a pastor making calls in that season to the home bound…aging, illness, sheer loneliness can never be excluded from the narrative.

As a pastor I loved the 11:00pm candlelight service in my congregation. I had the most marvelous colleague in ministry with whom I shared almost everything. Still I would always try to con him into preaching at the 4:00 service while I preached at the 11:00, saying “Walter, you love children and I love people who drink bourbon.”

I suspect only because he was in his own battle with MS and did wear out by the end of the day did he accommodate my selfish requests.

In truth, what always struck me about that service was the amount of brokenness which entered the sanctuary on that night. Along with the joyful family reunions, the young hearts returning from college, the families who had traveled across the country to be together, there were also so many people, b