Welcome to 2020! Even yesterday I took the van in for maintenance and our service rep said "Happy New Year!" and it caught me off guard a bit. It seems like Christmas and New Years was so long ago. Yet, unbelievably, I went to a local Shoppers Drug Mart and saw Easter stuff out already!
Christmas seems to come and go so fast. All the anticipation and waiting has come and gone. All the decorations are put away and now we move on to the next thing. All the hope and dreams for a New Year are seemingly so far in the rear-view mirror that we cannot honestly think anything might change in this new year. We start asking, "now what?"
We ramped up for Christmas at Calvary thinking, "everything will be different once Jesus gets here". Because once we present the question of "making room in our hearts for Jesus" on Christmas Eve, surely people will respond and life is going to be completely different, new, and exciting.
But, in these few weeks after Christmas, after celebrating the gift of grace that God gave us in sending His one and only Son, have you noticed that anything has changed? It doesn’t feel like it, and we start asking, "now what?"
I know this seems like a little bit of a downer question to ask but as our culture hurries on to the next great thing, we are sometimes forced to ponder what difference did Jesus' coming into this world really make?
Our family has returned to our normal crazy routine now that Christmas is over. I have had to scratch out 2019 and write 2020 a few times but by and large, nothing much has changed. We have slipped back into the way things were. Sure, we gave a nod to the cataclysmic events surrounding our Saviour’s entry into this world, but now what?
I get a little bit of this sense when I read the end of the book of Luke when, before He ascends to heaven, Jesus says to his twelve disciples, "but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49).
In other words, Jesus says, "wait".
Had I been there to hear the commission and watch my Saviour return to heaven I wonder if I would be running off to tell everyone what Jesus had done. If I had witnessed the events of death and resurrection and told to wait I think my head would have burst.
But they waited.
They went back to Jerusalem and waited for God to send the power they needed for mission. Namely, a special empowering of the Holy Spirit to launch the church into mission.
I hate to wait. I hate not moving fast and getting on mission. I have a hard time resting and waiting for God to do what only God can do while I faithfully seek to follow Him. But sometimes God says, "wait, my son or daughter – wait until you have from me what you need for what is next." God is preparing you for what He has in store for you this year. God is doing a work that is far above our little piece of the puzzle but at the right time, He will turn our waiting into mission. He will turn our waiting into fulfillment as we see what His plans are for us, for our families, for our church. We need to only be faithful to what we know to do already. He has given us what our mission and priorities should be and while we wait for God to accomplish His will, we worship him and continue to help others come to worship Him.
Pastor Aaron Groat
I was saying to my wife Jolene over the Christmas break that I just can’t go back to regular radio stations yet. I need some kind of Christmas music buffer before I let go of the holiday and get back into the regular rhythm of the year. Because when December 1st hits, I switch over to our local all-day Christmas radio station, and that’s what I listen to. I watch awful Christmas movies with ridiculous plots and acting. We eat sweet treats and relax on the couch more than normal. But once New Years hits, it’s just over. I gotta stop listening to Christmas music, stop watching the bad movies, and go back to the normal grit and grind of the year.
Or do I?
Before I was a Christian, this was certainly the case. Christmas was over, and it’d be this huge breakdown. As soon as we took the tree out of the house it was like, right…it’s over. I remember feeling so depressed in the early weeks of January, because all the joy, all the happiness, all the suspense was suddenly gone, until next Christmas.
Since becoming a Christian though, I can see that my attitude has changed. Sure, I still wish that the Christmas season persisted another month…or 11. I still wish that I didn’t feel the need for the Christmas buffer post new year. But the joy and happiness of Christmas, doesn’t leave me like it did when I was younger.
I was reminded afresh about the hope that we get in the baby Jesus. The hope that this act of God brings to me, my family, my church, and this world. And that message of hope is not just a Christmas message. We don’t just get Jesus for the month of December, then have the rest of the year to fend for ourselves. No, we get him for the other 11 months as well. Christmas is the arrival of that hope and joy, but afterwards, he’s here, he’s arrived. The hope we’d been waiting for is present. Granted, we’re 2000 years after that arrival. But we remind ourselves of the fact that Jesus is here – He doesn’t go away and come back each December. He is here, He has been here, and He will be here until the end of the age.
I hope you’ve had a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and it is my prayer that you carry the hope of Jesus with you throughout 2020.
Mike Sanders, Youth Director
As I write this blog post it is now less than one week until Christmas. How does it sneak up so quickly? Are you organized and ready? I often wonder why we put so much pressure on ourselves to have things all done and put together just perfect. How there seems to be so many events and activities on the calendar at once with not enough time to get to everything. I know that I’m even guilty of this when planning Christmas ideas for our Children’s Ministry. I’m always looking for something fresh, some new ideas that have the ‘wow factor’. There were even a few articles I read about how to be more effective in ministry planning during the season. Some suggestions were: decorating your space, (check), having some Christmas lights in the classrooms, (check I have a tree with lights), have different snacks (check, our kids love crackers and cheese), well planned crafts (check, I love being crafty), and using perhaps a variety of games and activity stations, (check, I usually have lots planned).
While these ideas are all helpful and effective, I was reminded that the Christmas story, with its events and characters, is enough on its own. It doesn’t need anything extra or flashy. Even though it may be the same story every year- Jesus born in a stable manger, a Saviour for the world; this is the ‘wow factor’!!
Last week our younger Sunday school children learned about one of my favourite parts of the Christmas story. It’s when the shepherds are in the field and suddenly an angel appears to them. We used a nativity set and some picture scenes to re-tell the story. The image of some simple shepherds working out in a field when suddenly an angel is before them and then a host of angels- is incredible. They were so full of joy and excitement that they hurried off to find the baby. These shepherds were part of an amazing story, part of a plan. God sent us a special gift that is for everyone.
As we get ready for Christmas day, let’s pause and reflect on God’s perfect plan and the hope a tiny king would bring.
Glory to the Newborn King!
Tanya Chant, Family & Children's Ministry
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