By Ashlee Starr, Family Services Coordinator at Charis Community Housing Last night was beautiful. We had been preparing for this night for months. It would be the first annual Christmas party in our neighborhood art garden.
This art garden has been a space for our community to work together, celebrate together, and as my friend and neighbor would say “show the world that our neighborhood is a beautiful place.”
We bought a tree, battery operated lights, borrowed a generator for our sound system, and made some hot beverages. Neighbors gathered to trim the tree while children skipped rope on the concrete space that was once a neighborhood grocery store but has long since been torn down.
We started singing Christmas carols together and danced until it was almost dark. A dear neighbor and long term resident on our street asked to sing his favorite Christmas song: Oh Holy Night.
We only had a megaphone for him to sing into, but his beautiful voice carried for blocks. As he sang the line “a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new a glorious mourn,” I couldn’t help but have tears in my eyes.
We don’t live in a perfect place. We are not perfect people. But this hope that my friend sang about makes me believe that during this advent season, we have plenty of reason to rejoice.
We can gather together across cultural, racial and generational differences to sing about the birth of Jesus. For me, this is where I find joy this advent season. This is where I find community.