I love Christmas time. It is a time to pause and reflect and give thanks for the most amazing gift in all of history. The Son of God. We get to take some time to take a break from worrying over normal life and enjoy one another as we celebrate the truths of the Gospel. Sure, there is much that we worry about in today’s world. Much that needs to be done. Much that should be done and much to do about nothing and everything in between, but resist the urge to be hurried this Christmas season, allow yourself some time to enjoy being in the moment, celebrating Christ.
Last night, at Pine Level Missionary Baptist Church, we had a wonderful time doing just that, as we came together as a church family, to simply celebrate Jesus. It was so very encouraging to me, as I tried to be in the moment, and take in the joy of seeing our church family share their talents with one another and point our focus back to Jesus. Afterward as people sat and laughed, and ate and took their time getting ready to leave my heart was full. I cannot imagine what else Christmas could mean if not this right here. A time to take a moment and be happy together with the people that Christ has made whole and new.
When I got home it struck me that God often uses these times to not just encourage our hearts but energize us for sharing the gospel. We may not even realize it, but when we really truly love being with the people that we worship Jesus with, then we tell other people about how much we really truly love Jesus and His people. Guess what they call that, evangelism. The purest truest form, where our sharing comes out of the overflow of what God is doing in our lives and hearts.
This seems to be what Jesus means at, least in part, in John 13:34-35, when He tells His disciples that all men will know that we are His disciples when we love each other with the same love that He has loved us. Our greatest tool for evangelism is our love for Christ and His people, the Church. My prayer is that all the time we spend together this Christmas season will build that love amongst our congregation. And that in turn we would take that light and shine it so brightly for all to see! Paul tells us that this is how we grow as believers and as a church in Ephesians 4:15-16, "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."
The amount of preparation and planning that goes into these events is considerable and they are indeed acts of love on behalf of those who plan and execute our special Christmas events but, I am so very thankful that God calls those who serve in these ways to serve His body. This is just one of the many ways that Christ causes His light to shine in a dark world. We shine the brightest when we are the tightest together in unity of purpose and mind.
God has brightened up this gloomy world by sending us Jesus our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace, (Isaiah 9:6). And we live out that reality, as we choose to gather and make merry with His people. Then we take the blessings of His Kingdom that has no end to the world around us with hearts full of happiness in Christ. I hope you will join us here for daily reflections for the remainder of this advent season. I will try to add discussion questions for you to consider each day that will hopefully help you think through the incarnation of Christ and how it affects your life.
While we may not experience the same level of gloominess as the people who Isaiah wrote about, our world can present us with days of deep worry, fear, and pain. We can feel as though we are walking through a cloud of darkness at times.
Take some time and write down some things that have you upset, worried or just plain sad right now. After you have your list, I encourage you to present them before the Lord and ask Him to show you how He is removing that darkness from your life.
Another way to live out this passage is by making a list of ways you can shine the Light of Christ into the lives of people around you this holiday season and then ask the Lord for His grace to carry out these actions.
It is easy to forget at times that we have the promises of God through Jesus not because of our efforts but His Power and His Passion. Verse 6 tells us that the government will be on his should and in verse 7 that the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
I encourage you to praise God for His gift of salvation that you have not had to earn but that was freely given to you. Write down the many blessings God has given you spiritually, you can think of of them as Christmas gifts from the Lord.