“Do you think this neighborhood is too rough to Christmas Carol?”
This August, JUSTembrace hosted my small group for dinner. Joined by members from the JUSTembrace small group, we got a true glimpse into the kind of restorative joy and hope that true Community creates. It was such a treat to celebrate my birthday (and carbo-load) with a great group of old and new friends. Over burgers and brats, members from the Uptown community shared some of their favorite memories. One member favored the Carnivals, sighting the joy they bring to the neighbors. One member shared that he loves small groups, and has even started going to church, saying it’s kind of “his thing” now.
My favorite response came from Carey. As we discussed the upcoming Holiday season and dinners, Carey posed that question that made us all pause – “Do you think this neighborhood is too rough to Christmas Carol?” After half a beat, someone else piped in “I’d do it with you!” and before you knew it, Christmas Caroling in Uptown became a new plan for the season ahead. This was just the perfect example of the power of love and transformation. This suggestion came from someone who many people in my peer set would walk past and ignore. This suggestion came from someone who, three years ago, I probably would have judged. This suggestion came from someone who understands Love and understands the power of sharing Joy.
Christmas Caroling in Uptown to me is the perfect example of JUSTembrace’s core values of inclusivity, generosity, and hospitality. Ever since that small group, I’ve spent several training runs listening to Christmas Carols, just thinking about what kind of experience it would be to walk around Uptown singing Christmas Carols. It might be a little uncomfortable, but as I mentioned in my last blog, uncomfortable is always worth it. If through these Holiday dinners, we can inspire even one more idea like Carey’s, it will all be worth it.
If you want to be a part of this powerful restoration, please consider supporting the Holiday Dinners through a donation to the Marathon campaign. If you live in or near Chicago and want to experience it live, check out the JUSTembrace Fall Festival – or join us to Deck the Halls and Fa La La at one of the holiday dinners or caroling.