As we approach Christmas, many of us can get wrapped up in preparing for different church productions or events. These can be helpful of course, not only for building community within the church but also to communicate to our communities the story of Jesus’ birth and its significance. But what would it look like to love another in such a way that those outside the church would see a glimpse of Jesus?
My husband and I walked in to church@126 with very little idea of what to expect, other than a meal to begin, as we’d been told by Howard who invited us along. The sign outside (“Come hungry”) confirmed his promise, and we could hear hints of food being prepared as we walked in.
When time came to grab our plates for the pot-luck dinner I couldn’t help but notice the people I was surrounded by. There was a visible diversity in age and ethnicity, and a few who were there might have struggled to have a decent meal that evening if not for the shared dinner. But amidst the diversity there was a sense of unity and serving one another, an awareness of each others’ lives, a sense of belonging and authentic community.
After dinner we were led to the main hall area where we sang, prayed, and listened to Bruce speak on a series about “One Another-ing”. We considered what it would look like to accept one another as Jesus accepted those around him, such as his disciples, many of whom are considered characteristically unlovable.
We also shared personal testimonies of how Jesus invited us into relationship with Him in the midst of our different circumstances.
As I consider my evening with church@126 I can’t help but reflect on it in light of the fast approaching Christmas season. Yes, Jesus was incredibly patient with Peter, who was often doubtful. Yes, Jesus showed incredible acceptance when he called Matthew (a tax collector!) to be a disciple. But the pinnacle of it all? Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.
God incarnate and born in a manger made it possible for us to be accepted into His family.
God incarnate and crucified on the cross in our place made it possible for us to be accepted as citizens of heaven.
God incarnate, crucified and resurrected made it possible for us to look forward to an eternity with Him and all His goodness.
And as we wait for this glorious eternity, Jesus extends the invitation to be on mission with Him to invite more people into His kingdom, as we serve one another within the church.
However, when it comes to serving others I have to admit – lately I’ve been more concerned with what I can or can’t do for the upcoming church events than I have been with serving and building relationships, new or old. Perhaps you can relate. Sometimes we can be more concerned with production than service, wrapped up in “me” and “my time”, rather than how we belong to one another in our local churches, and how we can be “one-anothering” together.
It could be saying hello to an unfamiliar face, like Bruce did as we walked into church@126. It could be sharing a meal with those at church who have completely different backgrounds to ourselves. It could be spending time in God’s Word and getting a little vulnerable with those at church, by sharing and listening to each other’s thoughts and testimonies. And when we invite others to church in the midst of all this one-anothering, who knows?
Perhaps they’ll see a glimpse of Jesus. Whatever Christmas event or service our churches are hosting, may God help us to love one another well as we seek to love our communities by sharing the gospel of Jesus this Christmas.
What would it look like for your church family to embrace doing mission together? Click here for helpful resources, including devotional material and small group studies for your church.
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