Advent 3 Action

Dear Fremont Family:

You all are amazing! This Advent season you have heard God’s call to “get ready,” and you have responded. The bin of coats and blankets for Brown Hope’s Holiday event on December 17 has been full, and then emptied, and then full again. Today, O’Nesha Cochran will make her second trip to Fremont to pick up what has been collected.

Also, the bins of socks, hats, and gloves for the Christmas Day distribution are also full and ready for our annual sorting and preparing. If you have not had the privilege to join us on Christmas morning as we share love and pass out gifts to those sleeping outside, come! I promise you, you will be transformed by the experience.

Finally, to everyone who has worked a shift on the tree lot, thank you! This annual fundraiser is so much than that. It is genuine ministry to our neighbors. We have heard story after story of how people find their way to us because they are looking for a church that practices justice and inclusivity. They have seen our signs and our actions, and they want to support us. Others come with need and pain, and after sharing their story, they feel ministered to as we offer to add them to our prayers. God’s Spirit works through this outdoor meeting place with our neighbors.

But, maybe you haven’t yet had a chance to give or maybe you have more to give. Wonderful! This Sunday, December 12, we are asking for donations of small toys ($10 value) to assist Dr. Leroy Barber in his ministry as Black Santa. Dr. Barber devotes a tremendous amount of time and energy to visit churches, foster care facilities, family shelters so that children who might not otherwise experience the wonder of Santa can have this joy. More than that, Dr. Barber knows how important it is especially for children of color to see this mystical figure of generosity depicted as a person who looks like them. Recently, Dr. Barber was featured in Williamette Weekly, and the article explained it this way:

“It’s the best way he could think of to preserve a tradition that, in his view, holds more significance than simply marking the season. Every year, Barber, 53, assumes the role of Black Santa—that is, the same holly-jolly reindeer whisperer seen on Coke cans and at shopping malls every December, except, well, he’s Black. He dons the classic red suit, white beard and stocking cap, and takes a seat in a prefabricated living room at the United Methodist Church in Northeast Portland (or during COVID, an inflatable snow globe in the parking lot), where he works as director of innovation. Hundreds of kids line up to crawl into his lap, and hundreds of parents tell him how important it is for their children to see a vision of Old Saint Nick that looks like them.”

Every child who visits Santa leaves with a gift. That is hundreds of gifts over the course of just a few weeks. If you are able, please consider bringing 1 to 5 small, new toys to church on Sunday (not wrapped). The toys can be for any age and for any gender child. These precious gifts will be distributed to children by Black Santa in these last weeks leading up to Christmas.

This coming Sunday, John the Baptist will remind us that any preparation for the coming of Jesus that does not also change our behavior is not true preparation. Our actions must match our intentions to undo oppressive systems and to welcome into the world an infant child who is also the Prince of Peace.

Thank you so much for your faithfulness this Advent season!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Erin