Well, Christmas is almost here. This will be my last post until after Christmas. I’ve got family coming in tomorrow and LOTS needs to be done to get ready and to finish up all of our Christmas preparations. My wife would not be happy to see me sitting on the computer while she does everything, so, this is it until next week. I’m also looking forward to our service on Sunday and our Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service (I love that!). SOOO, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
We’ve been trying to make Christmas more spiritual and missional this year. Instead of just focusing on ourselves and receiving, we have tried to find ways to connect with neighbors and friends and serve them. Later this evening, my family and I are going into our neighborhood to deliver little goody packages with a scripture verse on them to all of our neighbors. We don’t know the vast majority of them because everyone is so private. We thought this would be a great way to get to know them, pass on a blessing, and start to build some relationships. My wife and children spent the whole afternoon yesterday baking all types of cookies, brownies, fudge, etc., and they had a blast. Please pray for us as we do this. I am trying to teach my kids that Christmas is a great time to reach out to others and bless them, even if you don’t know them. They’re pretty excited about it.
Along those lines, a group from our church went Christmas Caroling on Wednesday night (see image on left – that was us! Yeah right!). This was the last event in our Time to Serve. We did not have our normal service, so around 40 of us went to the apartment complexes near our church and sang a few songs. Some folks came out to listen, but even though many people were home, people tended to not be very responsive, except for a few (including a Muslim family). I was kind of surprised. How often do you have Christmas Carolers show up near your house? I guess not often enough. We were walking back toward the church, and I was a little disappointed, honestly.
But, then I had a thought. We were walking on the street back toward the church and passed a restaurant/martini bar named Dabbo’s. It occurred to me that they might let us come in and sing Christmas carols to their patrons (I’m thinking of an Irish Pub type of thing). I told the group to wait and I went and asked if they would have us. They said "sure!" and told us to come in. There was no one in the restaurant, but there were about 10 people in the bar area. It was a pretty nice place filled with an older crowd that was dressed nicely. We all crowded in (kids and all) and sang our Christmas carols and told them Merry Christmas. Many of the patrons sang along with us. We then gave out little flyers that had some of our church information on it with candy canes attached. In return, they gave us money! I rushed up and kept telling them "NO! Keep your money! We didn’t come here for money! We’re trying to bless you!" They insisted. They were so happy that we came in, they took up a collection for us and told us to use it for a good cause! It was spare cash they had in their pockets, but it ended up being $30! I went back to the church and assigned it to our benevolence fund. We regularly have people coming to the church and asking for food or gas, so those folks in the bar will help feed some folks in the coming weeks.
So, I thought that was pretty cool. It just shows me that God always has surprises for us when we step out in faith and incarnate the gospel. The Incarnation of Christ into a lost and hurting world has been my running theme this Christmas and I am so excited about what God has taught me. Our God is a missional God and He sent His Son cross culturally to our planet to bring us the Kingdom of God. We have so much to rejoice over and so much to tell people about.
Again, please pray for my family and I as we try and build relationships with our neighbors tonight. We’re going to around 25 houses and are praying for friendships to develop with people that we only see in passing. We hope to follow this up with neighborhood get togethers as the year goes on, but everyone is so isolated and private, we thought Christmas would be a great time to break the ice.
I wish each of you a merry Christmas. So does my wife Erika, and my 4 children. Merry Christmas!!!