Gospel Opportunities at Christmas

Posted: December 23, 2011 by J in Church, Mission

Christmas provides some pretty special gospel opportunities. At that time we have neighbours who are in a positive frame of mind about Jesus, and willing to spend some time celebrating him;  others who are especially lonely, and others who are struggling to pay the bills.

At my church we haven’t managed to do much at all, just a carols night. We’re all a bit tired, for one thing! But also we have habits at Christmas that are obstacles to mission.

So it’s left me thinking about the things I wish we were doing.

Here’s some ways I suggest we Christians could (and maybe should) be responding to Christmas in order to proclaim Christ at this time of opportunities.

1. We can spend Christmas Day showing hospitality to lonely and needy people in our neighbourhood. They will never forget it if we do: it’s the day in the year where hospitality will mean most to them. We could do this as a local church by holding a lunch for local people. Or we could do it in our homes, inviting a few lonely neighbours over to share in our family Christmas, maybe making it an open house sort of thing.  This is maybe a better option, inviting them into our lives, while lunch at the church hall is a bit more impersonal. To do this we’ll probably have to tell our wider families we’re not coming on Christmas day. Of course, there’s nothing to stop them coming to us!

I can’t think of a better way to display the grace of Jesus at Christmas than by caring for and standing with the ones he cared for and stood with. Course, that means we need to know who the lonely people in our communities are!

2. We can make up Christmas hampers. Big, fat Christmas hamper groaning with all sorts of useful Christmas foods, maybe a big ham for starters. Get a couple of grand together, buy in bulk, make up 20 or so of these at $100 each, give them to people who are struggling at Christmas. That would make it a real help, rather than a token. People don’t like to take money, but a christmas hamper feels more acceptable.

If we’re not giving to the poor around us at Christmas, what’s the good of telling anyone about the generous gift of God, of the one who ‘though he was rich, yet became poor for our sakes, so we might become rich’?

Of course to do this we need to know who are the people in our community struggling to pay for Christmas!

3. We can help people to celebrate Jesus by creating creative events where they can do that without unnecessary discomfort. Events where they can have time to sing over and hear and see and reflect on the Christmas story in ways that work for them. Incredibly, people still like to do those things at Christmas. Instead of moaning that they only want it at Christmas, we could just help them do it really well.

Here in my neighbourhood that seems to mean a carols night. Christmas day service I think might be a less effective way – everyone is busy and rushed, and they just don’t come anyway. If people don’t like sermons but do like singing carols and watching dramas and holding candles at Christmas, then why not get them singing and watching and candling, and leave sermons for another time. Whatever helps them get closer to the Jesus story. At our Carols, our Tongan pastor led a prayer of thanksgiving for the community for God’s blessings this year, and especially for Jesus. I heard afterwards how many visitors had appreciated that prayer in particular. If people are wanting to give back thanks to God, wouldn’t we be mad not to help them?!

Of course to do this we need to be in touch enough with people to have a feel for what would work for them as a celebration!

_______________________________________________

These seem to me to be three common-sense starting points for making the most of the unique gospel opportunities of Christmas. I wonder how many of them your church is doing. Us, this Christmas, mainly just no.3.

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