from Parkrose United Methodist Church
December 2009, Volume 2, Issue 12
Choirs of angels softly singing; the gentle light of Bethlehem’s single star gathered over the manger; wise sojourners traveling from afar graciously laying their precious gifts at the foot of a peasant child. Ah, the images of Christmas.
The Gospel story of the birth of Jesus contradicts many of these gentle pastoral scenes and gives witness to a sharp-edged world of survival into which Jesus was born and from which he formed his mission to the world. Zechariah (father of John the Baptist) proclaimed boldly; “God has raised up a mighty savior for us… that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.” (Luke 1:69-71) When Jesus proclaimed the purpose of his own life, he drew from the prophet Isaiah’s words, “… he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…” (Isaiah 61:1) The Biblical story of deliverance calls us to venture beyond the pastoral images of Christmas. It is indeed a challenge.
Leaders of PUMC are in discernment about 2010 mission priorities to which God is calling us. One conversation that continues to be on their hearts is addressing poverty in our neighborhood. We know Oregon’s unemployment rate to be lingering at 12%, highest it’s been for many, many years. We know the lines at food pantries are longer and families are more “food-insecure” than ever. We know there are homeless teenagers at Parkrose High School. We know through our local grade schools that three out of four children are eligible for free or reduced price lunches, revealing a level of poverty in the area.
We, the people at Parkrose UMC, are hope-filled, action-oriented followers of Jesus who believe in Christmas and the witness of Zechariah and Jesus. We are confident that through Jesus, God has Good News for those oppressed in our world, and that God does provide. This year we are dedicating our Christmas Offering to the first steps of what may emerge as a mission priority at PUMC in the New Year, Addressing Poverty In Our Neighborhood. The extent of our mission will unfold in time. Initially, however, it will include food baskets and school supplies in January 2010.
We invite you to join us. Please pray for this mission of God’s mercy. And join us as we seek to help neighbors beat the cycle of poverty. Your generous contributions may be sent to PUMC, 11111 NE Knott St. Portland, OR 97220. Checks should be written to PUMC and marked Christmas 2009 – Addressing Poverty.
Christmas is about birth. As we celebrate the birthing of God’s compassion, love and justice into our hearts and into our actions at Christmas, we begin to hear the soft singing of angels, the light begins to shine in the darkness, and life become a precious gift.
God’s Grace, God’s Peace – Merry Christmas
2009 Christmas Celebrations
Parkrose United Methodist Church
11111 NE Knott St. Portland, OR
Please Join Us!