Encounter: Slowly Read through Chapter 4 of Luke’s account of the dawning of ministry by Jesus, take Luke 4:14-21 and read through 3 times asking God to show you something about your own life. Why did Jesus say he has come? For what purposes does God now invite us to participate in "I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me, John 20:21
I saw Scrooge today as I walked along Main Street. Then I turned the corner and there he was again! I even rode with him in a car. Scrooge sightings are being reported everywhere! No, not the “Bah Humbug” Scrooge, though we know he is alive and well in our world, but I witnessed the Scrooge we see at the end of the Dicken’s story when we hear him say, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year!!
Our gift board for Christian Ministries that was full of needs just a few weeks ago is now empty and in its place dozens of presents, toiletries and groceries given from hearts full of Jesus. Diane, Julie, Matt and I had the honor to carry your hearts of love through the doors of Christian Ministries to those in need of a BLESSing. Trish Roark, Outreach Specialist and volunteers were working hard to meet each need that walks through the doors and the Christmas season is especially busy. We toured the apartments and shelter, the Sleeping Room and Food Pantry. It was such a blessing to us to see where all of our collections go each month and where there are opportunities to iServe. God’s love in action!
Trish introduced us to one of her volunteers and shared that we would be coming on Sunday, January 9th to help clean and organize supplies for the apartments and the food pantry. She looked bewildered and then said, “On a Sunday? Well, bless their hearts.”
Our Eden Church Scrooge’s are busy about spreading the goodness of God wherever it is needed. Another family called me saying they wanted to take care of gifts for a whole family and provide a Christmas meal, a gift card is being given to another person who needs winter boots, meals are being delivered to the sick and people are investing in Eden Church inspired by the 12 Miracle stories being shared through email to our community, wanting stories like these to be multiplied into a new year. Our local, regional and global outreach partners are being funded to share Christ, transforming lives and neighborhoods.
It looks like Dicken’s Christmas Carol is looking a lot like the story as it is written, “He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk—that anything—could give him so much happiness.”
More amazing is the invitation given by Jesus to His people as He tells us, as the Father sent me, I now send you because, The Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and he has anointed you to be hope for the poor, healing for the brokenhearted, and new eyes for the blind, and to preach to prisoners, You are set free!” You are to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great acceptance has begun.” (Luke 4).
How beautiful to see the reason for the season come alive in each one of us as we are reminded through the prophets, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
The theme of our Christmas Eve gathering focuses on the transformation of seeing a “Good Christmas” (keeping Christmas “well”): not as how many presents are under the tree or how “well off” we are individually and financially, but in how “well off” we are as community (church, local, global) who are well-blessed, well-loved, and well-loving. Relationship is the measure of a Christmas kept “well.”
Eden Church family, there are many thanks being lifted up to God because of your BLESSings. Let the transformation continue in our lives! Thank you for “Keeping Christmas Well!”
P.S. Still want to meet some needs? Trish at Christian Ministries shared with us they desperately need wash cloths, queen sheet sets and disinfectant spray.
Reflect: Begin to think about how this passage connects with our Christmas message of peace on earth, Goodwill towards everyone and Tiny Tim’s words, God bless us everyone!
Encourage: You will be receiving a gift at our Christmas Eve service in the form of a book, Why Christmas? This book is an easy to read study of the very real question someone may have about Christmas. You can share with someone the historical basis for Christmas, who Jesus was and what difference it makes if the Christmas story is true or not. We have extra booklets if you would like to give these out to family and friends for your Christmas and New year gatherings. What better gift to give this Christmas than the gift of knowing Jesus, our Creator God, coming to live life with us.
Gather: Begin to organize your small group to bring something to share for lunch and then go to Christian Ministries on our iServe Sunday, January 9th. After worship we will gather for lunch together and then BLESS our ministry partners and keeping Christmas well! RSVP the members of your group asap by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org