The Rev. Stephen Jones, president of Helias Catholic High School, preached a message of community and unity during the holiday season at the 38th annual Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday morning.
Jones' keynote address highlighted the event, held at the Missouri Farm Bureau in Jefferson City, which drew about 250 people. The annual prayer breakfast traces its roots back to the community celebrating a successful harvest. This year it brought the business community together with other community members to celebrate fall and things the community is thankful for on the eve of Thanksgiving.
"Community is of the essence," Jones said. "All of us need community to become the people that God made us to be. This season is a season in which community takes a very important role."
State Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, and Jon Christman, executive director of Cavalry Lutheran High School, also spoke similar messages asking the community to come together.
Jones told the crowd to be active in their communities and to remember those suffering from strife, loneliness or grief.
"It is not enough for us to just remember or pray for these folks and their situations," Jones said. "We have to be active in reaching out as a city and a county that cares enough to share the most wonderful time of the year with others."
Jones said Thanksgiving is about being thankful for friends and family, while the upcoming Christmas season is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
"If we wade through the materialism and consumerism that bombards us, wade through the focus on material gratification that will characterize Black Friday, we can see the heart of the season," Jones said. "But we can only understand that beating heart if we understand the meaning behind what we give thanks for."
Christians in the community must be willing to show Jesus' birth is the reason the Christmas, Jones told the crowd.
"We have to proclaim that his appearing, his redemption of our soul, is indeed the reason for the season," he said. "Alone, we're just slowly dying embers, fading away."