A Victorian Christmas

I’ve known Charlie and Ruth Jones (aka Peculiar People) for almost 20 years. Since they moved to Greensboro from Nashville, about 3 years ago, I was able to attend their N.C. performance at their home on S Elm St. My wife and I had a great time, and I thought that my friends would enjoy it.

Since then, as I’ve thought about the show, the time period (Victorian England), the main character (G.K. Chesterton-who was himself a journalist), it occurred to me that the show fit perfectly with Korner’s Folly. Charlie and Ruth’s heart to see Christians engage and be engaged by the arts and the Korner’s love the arts along with their desire to engage the community with the arts seemed to line up. So, in mid-October, I invited Charlie over to visit the Folly and asked him to consider bringing his show to Kernersville. Charlie was really taken with the house and the Korner’s story: their love of the arts, community-mindedness, love of hospitality, and he was also taken with the house itself; it charmed him. We spoke with Bruce Frankel about the possibility of having the show at the Folly and how we could use the event to be a blessing to the community. Bruce was very helpful and accommodating, and we were able to set a date.

Personally, this event allows opportunity to introduce others to this wonderful home and a wonderful ministry. I have a heart both for the Folly and for the ministry of Family Promise. Victorian Christmas brings together a number of things I love: Charlie and Ruth, G.K. Chesterton, the Folly, Family Promise, music/poetry/the arts, and my friends whom I know would enjoy the evening. Additionally, the enjoyment of the company of others enjoying themselves and each other feels particularly like giving a gift. So much of Christmas becomes a trap about all the stuff. This evening reminds us of what is precious: one another and particularly the one whom G.K. Chesterton devoted his life to following: Jesus Christ.

The evening is set at Christmas in the London home of G.K. Chesterton. As people arrive the Folly they will be welcomed and introduced to the Folly and invited to tour the home before the show and see all the Christmas decorations as well as enjoy the charm of the home. At about 7:30 people will be invited to the second floor Reception Room where we will join the Chestertons and their friends for a Christmas party. The evening is interactive, and the audience is invited to join the Chestertons in singing carols and playing games. Throughout the evening the Chestertons share their talents by reciting poetry and telling stories. Additionally, a story is unfolding among the characters themselves as they celebrate Christmas. The evening is very engaging is appropriate for primary ages and up. During the evening, we will invite people to make donations to Family Promise of Forsyth County as well as acknowledge opportunities to support the preservation of the Folly.

There are a number of reasons why we need to support ministries like Family Promise. Firstly, the ministry is about homelessness, and we are in the coldest part of the year. I cannot imagine a family trying to survive sleeping in car in a parking lot somewhere; that doesn’t need to happen.

Secondly, Christmas reminds us of the blessing of hospitality. In this age of ‘entertain-me’, that is, the culture we live in causes us to expect high-quality, competent entertainment and service in whatever we participate in. It is good to be reminded that we are called serve others by opening our lives and homes. Because of the high level of expectation and the pressure to succeed, I believe we shut down and shut out others because fear failing at “entertaining”. “Entertaining” sounds so burdensome. Why not merely be open to receiving others warmly? I think that is what hospitality is about, and the warmth of community and fellowship is certainly what we should be about as we celebrate God drawing near to us. Over and over again one reads and hears that this is the loneliest time of year. I think this is very sad.

Lastly, the first Christmas was about hospitality. The Word who made this home for us and placed us in it, came to visit and he was not received so warmly. Additionally, Mary and Joseph were refugees of sorts in a home which was occupied by enemies. They were not received by family or even the inn, but relegated to the stable. The care of those in need was very close to Jesus’ heart and the community which he established. Family Promise has more which it is doing, but the primary ministry is to offer hospitality to homeless families. We have the means through our resources: financial, abilities, time, and building space to alleviate significant suffering in the lives of others. It would be a tragedy to repeat the unkindness to Jesus himself by continuing to neglect those whom we might help.

The event is Tuesday, December 14 from 7-9pm. Resevations and tickets may be purchased by calling Grace Presbyterian Church, 993-3384 x12 or at the church office from 9-Noon, Mon-Friday.

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