So this is Christmas

I can’t quite believe we are approaching yet another Christmas. I know that I must be getting on a bit as time is starting to feel like it is progressively getting faster. Each year feels shorter than the last, and the gap between hearing Wizard’s, ‘I wish it could be Christmas’ blaring out in shops is getting ever smaller. I’ve even starting saying phrases like my Grandad such as, ‘where have those months gone’. Bah humbug!

But as we approach this time of year it is easy to get caught up in the madness of buying gifts, making family arrangements and planning the Christmas meal. So much so that we miss the opportunities that Christmas brings us as a church to be a positive message to the communities we live in.

It is a time to reflect on the greatest gift ever given to the world! It is time to reflect on a missional God, who, in His love sends His only Son to come down to Earth to redeem a lost and broken world. As a follower of Jesus I am humbled and overwhelmed when I think of the lengths God went to so that I may have relationship with Him. I am overwhelmed at the difference He has made to my life in the years that I have known Him, and I am relieved to know that my future is secured. But I am also reminded that there are so many people who are yet to truly discover Jesus.

“the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.”

John 1:14

Jesus became flesh and was sent to dwell amongst us, or as The Message beautifully puts it “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.” Today, empowered by His Holy Spirit we are called to reflect God’s presence on Earth; we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our neighbourhoods.

So as we approach this Christmas let us ask ourselves: How can we be the good news of Jesus to our communities? How can we be good news to the vulnerable, the isolated, to the lonely, the immigrant, the orphan, the single parents, and those living in our streets and neighbourhoods? How can we be Jesus to those who do not yet know Him?

We can be good news in many ways: we can open our house to those who have no one to spend Christmas with, we can visit the local care home to spend an hour making someone feel special, we can donate our Christmas money to charity and help our at our local homeless shelter. So many opportunities, of which all are good! However as followers of Jesus we are called to address not only the present needs of our world, (injustice, poverty, etc…) but also the eternal needs of our world. If we fail to invite people to hear and respond to the gospel message and give them the opportunity to respond we are short-changing the ones we are called to love!

In 2 Peter 3:9 we read that God doesn’t want anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance. We must not lose sight of this. So here is my challenge to you this Christmas – do at least one thing to:

1.       Positively change someone’s present needs. For example: Help out at a homeless shelter!

2.   Give somebody the opportunity to respond to the Gospel message. For example Invite a friend to your Carol service and share your story about how Jesus changed your life

How amazing would it be to give somebody the chance to receive the greatest present the world has ever received?

I pray that you will have a great Christmas and that God will use you powerfully to grow His kingdom in this special season.

Gareth Fitzpatrick
Learning Mentor for Need-oriented Outreach.