Christmas can be missional!
by Pastor Clancy Nixon
Black Friday deals were all over the Internet a week early; the first snow has already blanketed the hills and valleys; Thanksgiving is past and Christmas is on the way. We are about to enter the season of preparation we call Advent.
There are a variety of ways that we prepare.
First, we prepare by searching our hearts to see if there is any unclean way in us, and to see if we are putting any confidence in our flesh (Phil. 3:3), rather than in the Lord.
Second, we prepare for the visitation of our King once more, as if he were coming to visit us physically, as a dignitary, to our home.
Third, we prepare with tangible gifts, making our list, checking it twice, and giving gifts to our families, friends, and ministry partners as reminders of the gifts of the Magi to the Christ child, out of thankfulness for God’s gift of them to us.
Fourth, we prepare our homes with Advent wreaths and calendars, decorating Christmas trees, and for hospitality and parties. I love pulling out the ornaments that my mother made, and thinking of her love for me, and mine for her. These familiar rhythms comfort and connect us to fond memories from past celebrations. They make the heart glad; merry.
I want to suggest an additional kind of preparation for Christmas, “missional” preparation.
The word “Missional” is a neologism, an adjective recently coined that describes people on mission for Christ in whatever we are doing. We are entering the one extended season of the year (really two – Advent and Christmas) in which the secular world acknowledges Christians’ second highest holy day – the birth of the god-man, Jesus Christ. In this season, our neighbors who are far from Christ are more open and receptive to talking about Jesus, because Christmas symbols are all around them. Current statistics show that only 2% of American Christians have shared their faith with someone far from Christ. Evidently, most of us find that very difficult to do. However, 80% of unchurched Americans are receptive to an invitation to attend Christmas worship from someone they know personally. If you won’t do the hard thing, then by all means do the easy thing, and invite people far from God into relationship with you, and to worship!
Our Mission Statement is this: “We invite nations and generations to experience God’s love and power.”
Mission is what we do. We want everyone to experience God’s love and power. But the operative verb is “invite.” Will you join me in inviting someone to worship this season, particularly someone from a different ethnic group, religious background, or age? Please consider joining me and inviting a friend, neighbor, or co-worker to one of our two Christmas Eve worship services. The pageant at 2 o’clock on December 24 is particularly suited for families with small children, as we feature kids acting in our Pageant drama. The candlelight service at 10 PM is for adults who are looking for a contemplative worship experience. Both are excellent entry points into our common life!
While it’s best to invite someone you know, because they’re more likely to respond, still, people whom you don’t know well, may very well respond to an invitation like this from you. We have printed invite postcards that I encourage you to use to hand to people that you know, or ones God puts in your path.
Another missional opportunity is our Christmas parade on December 8, Saturday evening. We will gather at the home of Keith and Sara Johnson at 5:00PM, and pass out these invitations and candy canes to our neighbors as we walk down King Street.
What better birthday present could we give to Jesus then to introduce someone who is far from him, to the saving knowledge and love of Him? Please pray with and for all of us, as we invite nations and generations to experience God’s love and power.
May our gracious God bless you as you prepare for the coming of our King.+