nativity story

Meditations on tangible love during Advent 4: holy, messy, stubborn love that moves among us here on earth.

I believe God loves the world through us—through you and me. — Mother Teresa

The three grand essentials of happiness are: Something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.― George Washington Burnap

The great struggle of … life is to take God’s name for us, to believe we are beloved and to believe that is enough. ― Rachel Held Evans

The roots of a lasting relationship are mindfulness, deep listening and loving speech, and a strong community to support you. — Thich Nhat Hanh

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
― William W. Purkey

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
— St. Teresa of Ávila

Questions to consider:

  • When did you have an experience of holy, stubborn love this week?
  • When has love insisted on showing up, despite whatever should have turned it away, in your life?
  • What or who has been transformed by love, in your life?
  • When have you served as tangible love in someone else’s life?
  • What is your ‘language’ of love? How do you express love to others? Read an article on this concept.
  • In what ways are you willing to receive or accept love? When and how is it hard to allow yourself to be loved?
  • What songs make your playlist as great love songs? Are they romantic or do they describe a different kind of love?

HOLY, STUBBORN LOVE: Incarnate, Embodied, Among-Us

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ― Rumi

Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love. ― Mahatma Gandhi

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Every one of us is trying to find our true home. Some of us are still searching. Our true home is inside, but it’s also in our loved ones around us. When you’re in a loving relationship, you and the other person can be a true home for each other. ― Thich Nhat Hanh

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close. ― Pablo Neruda

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. ― Elie Wiesel

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always. ― Mahatma Gandhi

I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough … ― Nicholas Sparks

Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love. — Mother Teresa

You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not. ― Jodi Picoult

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could. ― Louise Erdrich

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater. ― J.R.R. Tolkien

Spiritual Commentary on Love

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. ― Dalai Lama

I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us. ― Anne Lamott

Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change. ― Richard Rohr 

Understanding someone’s suffering is the best gift you can give another person. Understanding is love’s other name. If you don’t understand, you can’t love. ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

What I love about the ministry of Jesus is that he identified the poor as blessed and the rich as needy…and then he went and ministered to them both. This, I think, is the difference between charity and justice. Justice means moving beyond the dichotomy between those who need and those who supply and confronting the frightening and beautiful reality that we desperately need one another. ― Rachel Held Evans

God’s grace is a gift that is freely given to us. We don’t earn a thing when it comes to God’s love, and we only try to live in response to the gift. No one is climbing the spiritual ladder. We don’t continually improve until we are so spiritual we no longer need God. We die and are made new, but that’s different from spiritual self-improvement. We are simultaneously sinner and saint, 100 percent of both, all the time. The Bible is not God. The Bible is simply the cradle that holds Christ. Anything in the Bible that does not hold up to the Gospel of Jesus Christ simply does not have the same authority. The movement in our relationship to God is always from God to us. Always. We can’t, through our piety or goodness, move closer to God. God is always coming near to us. Most especially in the Eucharist and in the stranger.
― Nadia Bolz-Weber

When love awakens in your life, in the night of your heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before there was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, now there is courage; where before in your life there was awkwardness, now there is a rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with your self. When love awakens in your life, it is like a rebirth, a new beginning. ― John O’Donohue

Christmas at Jackson Community Church


  • CHRISTMAS CANDLELIGHT SERVICE: : Lessons, Carols & Candlelight.
    5pm • Jackson Community Church
    • Lighting of the Advent candles including the Christ candle
    • Christmas message
    • Scripture readings
    • Christmas carols
    • Special music including piano, harp, guitar and vocal solos.
    • Service ends as candles are lit and uplifted by the whole congregation.
  • CHRISTMAS CANDLELIGHT SERVICE: : Lessons, Carols & Candlelight.
    10pm • Jackson Community Church
    • Lighting of the Advent candles including the Christ candle
    • Christmas message
    • Scripture readings
    • Christmas carols
    • Special music including organ, piano, and vocal solo.
    • Service ends as candles are lit and uplifted by the whole congregation.


  • CHRISTMAS MORNING: Pajamas, Stories & Bells
    10:30am • Jackson Community Church.
    Come to church in PJs to ring bells, sing songs, and hear a special Christmas story.

THIS WEEK: MON, Dec 10 – SUN, Dec 16

At Jackson Community Church and Around Town

This week @ JCC: Tue – Deacons Mtg, Wed – Pastors Hours & Fitness with Laurie McAleer; Thurs – Yoga with Anjali Rose; Fri – Pastors Hours, Sun – Interfaith Gathering (old library) & Worship with Christmas Pageant and  Peace & Pizza Concert with Dennis O’Neil & Davey Armstrong. Around town: Tue – Book Group (library), Thurs – Christmas Concert by Jackson Grammar School (Whitney Community Center), Sat – Craft Fair (Whitney Community Center for Jackson Grammar School) & Christmas Bird Count (ends @ Tin Mountain Conservation Center). Plus Save these Dates: Wed, Dec 19 – Peace Program (old red library), Fri, Dec 21 – Longest Night Winter Solstice Celebration (Tin Mountain Field Station, Jackson)

Tamarack Construction proceeds with installation this week. MON, Dec 10

  • Community Event: WAY STATION TEAM MTG
    4pm • Members of Way Station leadership (day resource center for homeless population in Mt Washington Valley) meet with Vaughan Center leaders to review guidelines under which Vaughan will serve as the Way Station’s fiscal agent. Rev Gail and church members serve on this team.

TUE, Dec 11

    12:30pm • Members of Clergy of the Eastern Slope gather. Rev Gail belongs to and attends this gathering.
    4pm. • Deacons meet to prepare for Christmas worship, January services, and to review visitation and community care.
  • Community Event: ADULT BOOK GROUP
    4:30pm • Jackson Public Library
    Did You Ever Have a Family? adult book discussion

WED, Dec 12

    7-9am • Glen Ledge Corner Store & Gas Station. Come by for hot beverage and conversation. Or make a date to go for a walk by calling/texting Rev Gail 978.273.0308 or emailing Rev Gail (
  • TUNE UP FITNESS with Laurie McAleer
    9am • Parish House, Jackson Community Church.Fitness class. Free; open. to public
  • Community Event: WAY STATION TEAM MTG
    10am • Nativity Lutheran Church, North Conway.
    Meeting of leadership team to review projects leading up to opening of Way Station in early 2019. Rev Gail & church member serve on this team.

THURS, Dec 13

    8:30am • Gibson Center. Reports on the recommendations of subcommittees regarding actionable projects to nurture an age-friendly experience in the Mt Washington Valley. Guided Gibson Center through AARP as agent of World Health Organization. Rev Gail serves on this task force.
  • INTRODUCTORY YOGA with Anjali Rose 
    9am • Parish House, Jackson Community Church Introductory yoga.
  • AA
    6:30pm • Second Floor, Church.
  • Community Event: CHRISTMAS CONCERT
    5:30-7pm • Jackson Grammar School

FRI, Dec  14

    7-9am • JTown Deli. Come by for hot beverage and conversation. Or make a date to go for a walk by calling/texting Rev Gail 978.273.0308 or emailing Rev Gail (

SAT, Dec 15

  • Community Event: CHRISTMAS CRAFT FAIR
    Morning • Whitney Community Center.
    Jackson Grammar School’s craft fair. Proceeds from specific tables (White Elephant table) will support the Merriman House’s Music & Memory program for Alzheimer’s patients and the Way Station day resource center serving homeless Mt Washington Valley families. Our Missions team will have a small table at this event.
  • Community Event: CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
    All day • Coordinated by Tin Mountain Conservation Center. Join us for the 30th annual North Conway Christmas Bird Count.  Observers  needed for traveling routes by foot, cross country skis, snowshoes, or by car.  You can also tally birds at your feeder. Meet back at the Nature Learning Center at 5pm to tally our counts and share stories from the day. Call 447-6991 to participate. 

SUN,  Dec 16: Advent 3 – Joy

    8am • Old Library. Hot beverages available. Come for poetry, literature, conversation and prayer.
    9am • Church. Prep for pageant.
    10:30am •  Jackson Community Church.
    • Advent wreath-lighting by family.
    • Accompanist: Alan Labrie
    • Special Music: Gia
    11:30am • Jackson Community Church.
    Missions offers gift cards for supported programs.
  • PEACE & PIZZA CONCERT with Dennis O’Neil & Davey Armstrong
    4pm • Jackson Community Church. These local musicians will perform some of their favorite songs with the theme of peace woven into this rollicking musical mix! Donations welcome; open to the public. The Shannon Door welcomes hungry concert-goers to eat pizza afterward (dining out is at each participant’s own cost).


Community Events:

100th Anniversary of Armistice (Ending WWI)
Wednesday, Dec 19

5-6pm • Old Red Library   Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Armistice and the “War to End All Wars” as the First World War was known. Opportunity for people to bring in poems, songs, artwork, medals received, etc.   Includes:

  • Musical performance of “Christmas in the Trenches” by Dexter Harding.
  • Poetry selections offered by Tony Deluca
  • Other contributions to this topic through poetry, literature and art.

Friday, Dec 21

4:30pm – 6pm (or later)
Tin Mountain Field Station, Tin Mine Rd, Jackson

  • Guided snowshoe walks by Tin Mountain Conservation Center staff
  • Crafts and readings inside
  • Reflections on darkness & light
  • Bonfire outside
  • More activities!


Thurs, Dec 20

  • 7pm • Come to reflect on grief & loss in the midst of a holiday season.

Sunday, Dec 23

  • 9am • Advent Workshop
  • 9am • Choir Rehearsal with Ellen Schwindt
  • 10:30am • Worship with Advent Candle Lighting

Monday, Dec 24

  • 5pm • Candlelight Service
    Sing carols, read and reflect on scriptures that re-tell the Nativity Story, and candlelight service with special music!
  • 10pm • Candlelight Service
    Sing carols, read and reflect on scriptures that re-tell the Nativity Story, and candlelight service with special music!

Tuesday, Dec 25

  • 10:30am • Pajamas, Stories & Bells. Come to church in PJs to ring bells, sing songs, and hear a special Christmas story.
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