“Want To Keep Christ In Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the stranger and unwanted child, care for the ill, love your enemies.”
“Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.” Hebrews 12:14-15
This Advent season, let us consider how we can be the hands and feet of Jesus and give grace, God’s favor, to those in need, to those in our life, to those who Jesus places in our path.
We are all shepherds. God spoke these words to Ezekiel, 34:2-6 “Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and scattered, they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep were scattered, they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with no one to search or seek for them.
We celebrate the birth of our Savior and so then I believe we are called to do more than celebrate it because there are many sheep scattered who need to surrender to Jesus and there are many who have wandered away for Jesus. I know we have a mission in life to live like Jesus and then when people see Jesus in us God will finish the job!
What if? What if on December 5, Communion Sunday, we gathered so much food for the food pantry that you can’t even enter the church unless we stack it outside? What if? When we went to buy our groceries next time we spent a minimum of $10 on pantry food. In light of the amount of money we will spend for Christmas presents for our family and friends, $10 seems paltry! Why not $20 or $30 or more? What if? We brought food in every Sunday?
What if? We welcomed the stranger to know Jesus? Pray for people to come into your life that you do not know and then speak to them about your faith. Invite them to church, to Christmas Eve service. If you’re not comfortable inviting a stranger, we each have people that we do know that are looking for Jesus or a church home, make an effort to reach out to them. What if? What if you took the time in this really busy season to invite them to a meal (Jesus did a lot of things over a meal.) and as you ate with them invite them. Or, invite them to church then go to lunch after. Pick them up and bring them, then they are captive!
What if? What if you cleaned out your closet to clothe the naked? December means cold weather, so do you have any extra coats? Isn’t it time to go through your closet and pluck out everything that you have not worn in the last 2 years? (Guilty!)
What if? What if you made a covenant with God to be more faithful visiting the ill? The shut-in? The person you know across the street, in your neighborhood, that could use your time and comfort. What if you took them a meal? What if? What if you went caroling with us Sunday, December 6 and we just overwhelmed the places? (Meet at 4:00 in the Gibson General lobby.)
What if? What if you forgave the guilty in your life and made sure your enemies absolutely knew were truly loved? That baby child Jesus came to earth for more than our salvation and sins. Jesus admonishes to pray for our enemies but He went farther. Consider that on the cross He said: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Yes, your enemies may know exactly what they did but by your forgiveness and love and seeing Jesus in you, they may: come to surrender to Jesus or ask for your forgiveness. Isn’t this a time to reopen strained relationships?
Here is the final “What if.” What if we dedicated our Advent time to truly worshipping God and not being so selfish or self-centered? What if we spent each day worshipping God by giving praise and thanks to Him more, getting closer in relationship to Jesus, praying, studying not just reading scripture, coming to church on Sunday to not critique church or the people in it, but to purposefully lift Jesus and others up?
Please know that Bonnie and I will be praying for you during this hectic, busy time. Among other things we will be praying for: a hedge of protection around you, your family and your friends so you can enjoy the season. We will be praying that you will see, feel, and know that Jesus is with you, cares for you, and loves you. We will be praying that we all feel the Holy Spirit speaking God’s words to us and through the Holy Spirit we will be empowered to “Go and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
So during this all too often crazy, busy time: May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.