Sunday, December 11, 2016

All I want for Christmas

I have not blogged regularly in like, years. Maybe my "blogger's block" will be cured or maybe not, but in the meantime here is something I wrote for my church last week. I share it here because my own life has been so deeply impacted by people who engaged in the ministry I describe below: people who took notice of me when I felt I was "on the outside looking in" and who named me as their own. If you are one of those people, thank you. Don't underestimate the significance of your hospitality.
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I was amazed to discover last year that the UK’s number one “Christmas hit” of the decade is a pop song called, All I want for Christmas is You. It’s a contemporary rejection of materialism—“I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree”—in favor of intimacy with another (“all I want for Christmas is you”). It seems that holiday seasons, despite the commercial fanfare and the noise, remind us that the real gift we all long for is love.

This gift of love seems to come naturally and abundantly to many of us, making Advent and Christmas a magical time to hold those loved ones a little closer. But for others, this season can be one in which the pain of loss—not the celebration of love—is heightened. Many of our coworkers, neighbors, friends, fellow parishioners, and extended family members often feel as though they watch the magic of the holiday season from the outside in.  

Thankfully, the good news of Jesus is no less than inviting the outsiders in: giving them a place at the table, a permanent sense of belonging, a share in the Family name. In Christ, we who once were far off have now been brought near (Eph. 2:13), and in Christ we are empowered to share in his ministry of love. 

How can you make this Advent not just about enjoying the love you already have, but sharing the Love that God longs to give? Who around you is lonely, longing to be invited to the family dinner? Who might be blessed by an invitation to help decorate the Christmas tree? This isn’t about doing something “extra,” but about doing what you already do with an open door and an open heart— not just to our own loved ones, but to all of God’s far off sons and daughters.