The Ancient Hope of Christmas

Come doubting, come sure
Come fearful to this door
Come see what love is for
--Mary Chapin Carpenter

I love non-traditional spins on Christmas songs. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song--a thoughtful original--is one of my favorites. Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLaughlin do a wonderful medley of “We Three Kings” and “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” The banjo on Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas album gives “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” a whole new layer of beauty. Dar Williams’ “The Christians and the Pagans” takes me back to get-togethers in divinity school. And Tom Waits’ guttural version of “Go Tell It on The Mountain” with the Blind Boys of Alabama backing him up? That song does it for me every time.

There’s something about the ancient hope of Christmas--that love, peace, and reconciliation has come into the world in the most humble, unexpected way--that seems to beg to be retold in new, amazing ways. What I love about this little verse in Carpenter’s song is that the invitation of Christmas is a wide one—for the skeptics, for the die-hards, for the cynics, for the dreamers. It evokes that wide, indiscriminate blessing from Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol:  “God bless us, every one.”

At Week of Compassion, we want to thank you so much for a year in which you have reached out with your own Courageous Compassion to so many people around the world. You have done everything you can to make room at the table for every one hurt and in need of healing, every one who has suffered under the weight of significant disasters, every one working to find new ways to support her family or community, and every one who has sought refuge from conflicts engulfing his homeland.

On these days leading up to Christmas, I am praying prayers of thanks for you. Thank you for caring. Thank you for hoping. Thank you for partnering with us in a ministry that tries to be God’s blessing around the world, around the year.

On behalf of Amy, Elaine, and Stephen, I pray that your Christmas is filled with peace, hope, and new songs to share.

- Brandon

In Memoriam

Betty L. Tankersley of Carmel, Indiana, passed away unexpectedly on December 16, 2010. Betty was a graduate of Leavenworth (KS) High School and Chapman University (CA). At 19, she married her high school sweetheart, Larry D. Tankersley, who served as Director of Week of Compassion from 1972-1992. Their marriage survived 44 years, until his death in 1999. During this time, they helped each other obtain their respective formal educations and raise 3 children. She and Larry served congregations in Enid, Oklahoma; Richardson, Corpus Christi and Kingwood, Texas; Miami, Florida; and Fullerton, California. After retiring from the pastorate, they continued to serve many, many people through their service with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the National Council of Churches. Betty also served as director for the adult re-entry program at Chapman University and was a successful realtor. Following her retirement in 1999, Betty continued to serve others in her capacity as a volunteer for St. Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis, and the Carmel Senior Center. She was also very active in her role as an elder of Carmel Christian Church.

A memorial service is set for Wednesday, December 29, 2010, at 1:00 p.m. at Carmel Christian Church, 463 East Main Street, Carmel, IN. Visitation will begin at 12:00 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made in Betty's name to the Christian Church Foundation for the WoC- Tankersley Fund, c/o Christian Church Foundation, P. O. Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986.