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
On any given day I will throw out a half dozen fliers for companies I don’t frequent, and answer at least one phone call from someone who needs my valued opinion in a survey that will take “less than 30 seconds”. And then there’s the spam emails, promising one thing but delivering another...
Case in point: earlier this week the staff received an email from Pastor Aaron Groat with the subject PEACE. Naturally, we assumed it was our Pastor and friend sending information about the upcoming Peace week of Advent. Nope. Just some scammer who had spoofed Aaron’s name and was trying to steal from us. (Note: Pastor Aaron will never email you to ask you to buy iTunes cards, Google Play cards, or anything else!)
On the surface, I was promised peace, and I almost fell for it… but I didn’t. And do you know why? Because I checked the source. You see, clicking the sender’s name revealed that another email address was hidden below the surface. The author of that kind of peace was a liar and could not be trusted.
Man, it’s almost like there’s a theological lesson in there somewhere.
There are many things that promise peace at Christmas time. Spend time with family. Watch some cheesy Hallmark movies. Travel. Enjoy some Christmas parties. Light the tree. Hit the slopes. Relax at the spa. Have Sunday brunch with friends. Shop early, shop online, wrap it up and then you’re done.
I’ll bet that if you watched enough commercials, you’d think that peace was guaranteed if you follow those few easy steps. These things by themselves are wonderful diversions, but you can’t manufacture peace.
But you can receive it.
You see, Ephesians 2:14 says that Christ himself is our peace. He’s the source. He’s ‘it’. Jesus is the one who broke down the dividing wall of hostility between us and God and reconciled us to Him forever through his shed blood on the cross. He’s the giver and we are the receiver.
What Jesus did brought us peace on two levels: The temporal and the eternal. The now and the forever. The peace you receive when your sins are forgiven is now, and the peace you enjoy knowing your life is hidden in God is eternal. It comes when we stop living for ourselves, and we begin living for God.
Peace is the result of our surrender and the root of our relationship.
This Christmas I pray you won’t fall for a surface promise of peace, but instead you’ll look to the Author of peace himself. Receive Christ and His gift of peace, for now, and for all eternity.
“Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace"
PS One time I did reply to a scammer, and had a whole day of fun sending them a barrage of nonsensical emails. I don't recommend it, but it was a fun way to spend a Saturday! But nothing compares to the Infamous Red Toaster Email found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSoXEtFPTfI
As I write this, I have just finished packing up the costumes from this year's CB Kids Christmas program. It offers me a moment to reflect on all the preparations over the past six weeks, having the children learn songs and poems about Jesus’ birth. I’m reminded too of all the programs and presentations that Calvary has had in past years and the people who allowed us a moment to just pause in the business of the season. Through all of this, the message has remained the same year after year - God promised to send a Saviour to the world, and there in a stable, that promise came true. Jesus was born quietly and with simple beginnings. I love how God kept this incredible, world changing event so humble. He could have done it many different ways, with glitz and glamour, but that was not His plan.
It’s easy for us to get lost in the bustle of the season, but let's try to find ‘the simple’ this Christmas. Take moments to find peace and quiet in random, small things. I love playing board games with the family, watching a holiday movie with snacks, or hiking through trails. What are some activities your family likes to do?
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and I wish you happiness for the year ahead!
Tanya Chant, Director of Family & Children's Ministry
“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.”
Each week we post about a range of things from the Christian life, faith and more.
In these posts we hope you'll catch a glimpse of ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God.