Christmas Fest 2017
The very first time I walked through the doors of Grace Community Church was Christmastime, 2009. I didn’t come for church. I had been adamant for years that I would never darken the doors of a church again. My experience leading up to that point was one that may be common to many; I had grown up in church, believed in Jesus and followed him faithfully. But painful hypocrisy and unfaithful doctrine clouded my understanding of grace and so, in my twenties, I walked away from “organized religion” and vowed to never return. Mercifully, though I walked away from church, God never walked away from me. As he is so good at doing, God worked through a myriad of circumstances to bring us back to him, and to a church family we could call home. Grace.
It started when we came to Grace for our daughter’s first preschool Christmas program. I was amazed that I had lived in Hudsonville for almost ten years and did not know about this huge church back on New Holland Street! I told one of my co-workers about it the next day and discovered that Grace was her church. What?! Why had she never said anything? I was used to people pressuring me about church but my co-worker never had… She simply loved me and prayed for me. And God was on the move.
To say life was challenging for us at that time would be an understatement. My husband and I both worked full-time on opposite shifts, which was great for saving money on childcare but terrible for relationships. We were crushed by the weight of life on our own terms. We had two great kids and wanted the best for them, but we were killing ourselves to provide it, not realizing that the best wasn’t material possessions. And so, sometime in January of 2010, we agreed to try going to church together as a final effort to save our family.
I picked Grace as the first church to try in our new experiment to try church again because we had already been there once for the Christmas program, so it would be familiar to my young kids, and someone I trusted went there, so it had the potential to be safe. The second time I walked through the doors of Grace Community Church was February 14, 2010. This time I was coming for church – a miracle! I still remember the overwhelming sense of finally coming home. Long story short, God met us in very real ways through the worship, teaching, ministry and community of Grace. We never did “shop around.” We were home.
Coming home can be an intimidating thing. Not every home welcomes the wanderer. Not every home is safe. Not every home has an open door. Not every home has the help, hope, and life we are looking for… but I am convinced that we do. So what do you do when you want to share what you have, and what you have is worth celebrating? You throw a party! You bring out your best – the fun, the food, the music, and you say you’re invited! Please come to our home! We’re having a celebration! Which is exactly what we want to do this Christmastime.
December 2, 2017 from 4-8 pm we’re throwing a big Christmas party and inviting the whole community – moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, and all the kids to come! We want to open wide the doors of our faith family’s home at 3500 New Holland Street for everyone to come and enjoy a great big celebration of the help and hope and life we have in Jesus. All the things that make a good party – food, music, entertainment, activities, gifts – we hope to provide, but more than that we hope to provide the intangible things that really matter; warmth and welcome, joy, belonging, memories, happiness, hope… and a compelling invitation to return to celebrate the good news of Jesus Christ. ~ Hilary Beebe