What would Jesus want for Christmas?

Langley Mennonite Fellowship sanctuary ‘occupied’ for Advent season

January 4, 2012 | Young Voices
Kirk Shields-Priddy | Special to Young Voices
Langley, B.C.

With raucous shouts of “Occupy Advent,” the youths of Langley Mennonite Fellowship interrupted the worship service on the first Sunday of the Christmas season.

Assisted by many of the church’s children, the “occupiers” entered banging drums, beating on pots and pans, and carrying protest signs with slogans saying, “The beginning is near!” and, “What would Jesus want for Christmas?”

Although many adults in this suburban Vancouver congregation assumed that the surprising demonstration was a fun, one-time reminder about the real meaning of the holiday, the youths persisted. Each of the first three Sundays of Advent, they continued to “occupy” the church, providing leadership roles normally performed by adults and raising the issue of the worldwide imbalance of wealth.

Planting surprises throughout each service, the youths rearranged the moveable chairs each week and generally up-ended the typical order of things during worship time.

Instead of telling a traditional “children’s story” for youngsters gathered near the platform, the youths instead called adults to the front of the worship space for a story for grown-ups. Sermons were replaced by humorous interviews with such characters as “a former Christmas tree angel,” and the congregation was challenged to take action after each service by purchasing alternative gifts in the foyer, with proceeds going to projects in the less-developed world.

Although one long-time congregant remarked, “This again? When are we going to get back to Christmas?”, many others showed support for the youthful efforts.

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