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Monday, November 30, 2015

Faith at Christmas Time

            I am very thankful when I hear my 6-year-old daughter talk about Christmas and I hear her mention Jesus.  We are a Santa Claus household.  My kids do something I never did.  They decorate their bedrooms for Christmas.  There are snowmen, reindeer, and Santa Claus’s all over my house.  Religionists who decry the commercialization and secularization of Christmas would have a field day with my family. 
            I don’t regret a bit of it.  We love the sounds of bells, the smell of Christmas cookies baking, the plans for family to come, and green and red everywhere.  But, when I ask my kids, “What is Christmas really about,” they lead with, “the birth of Jesus.”  Hearing that, I have happiness in my heart. 
            Are they just reciting lines they’ve heard in Sunday school?  Maybe.  And if that’s what they’re doing, that’s OK.  They are living into the narrative we have created.  I happen to think this narrative is true, is a right accounting of reality.  Still, right now, much of what my kids say is parroting.  They are not expressing deep faith convictions.  Not yet. 
            I pray that will come.  With each passing year, as I grieve losing the adorableness of little kids in my home as they grow into big kids and adolescents, I pray the beauty of childhood is replaced with kids that demonstrate a maturing faith and real awareness of the power of God.  Along with that, I pray I will grow in my sense of God’s real presence in my life.
            This year I will do something I don’t always do.  On Christmas Eve I intend to preach an evangelistic sermon in which I urge hearers to come to terms with God by reaching to Jesus for salvation.  The coming of God in Jesus Christ is God’s offer of himself to a world that’s stuck in sin and bound for death.  Jesus is God’s way of changing course for people who will receive the salvation he extends.  Jesus is “the game changer” (to use that overused and often misused phrase).
            Many who come for worship on Christmas Eve will be people who are already believers.  I pray the music, the prayer, the candles, the readings, and the sermon will call those individuals to a deeper awareness and attentiveness to their own personal relationships with Jesus.  And I pray God will speak through the service to seekers who only come to church one night out of the year – Christmas Eve.
            If you think of it, pray for our worship at HillSong on Christmas Eve, 2015.  If you know you’ll be here, see if one of your friends who isn’t really into Jesus might come with you.  Invite a friend.  Let that be one of your Advent disciplines.  That act of extending yourself and inviting a friend who is an “outsider” to Christianity will be an act of discipleship.  It will be an act that moves faith to the center for you this Christmas.
            That’s my prayer for my kids, for myself, for you, and for all who are part of our Christmas as HillSong this year.  I pray faith in the living Lord, the risen Jesus, will cover over and fill all the ways we celebrate and live in the season.

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