As a child, our church would have the Christmas Day service inside a big tent. Why? Because the church building wasn’t big enough. Christmas is like this. It’s the time of year when we think missionally. We look for ways to serve people and invite others to church.
Making Christmas Missional
I was going to write a list post originally. Something like, ‘6 ways to have a Missional Christmas’. I researched, read other blogs. Some had good suggestions, some predictable. But I just couldn’t write it. The words weren’t coming.
Many followers of Jesus are pretty good at thinking missionally at Christmas time. We have carol services, throw parties, and look to serve those in need. We support charities, visit the elderly, and feed the hungry. And we invite people to our church services. These were all ideas on other blogs, but I needed something more.
I need to connect the what and the why. In other words, a list tells you what to do to have a missional Christmas, but I need to know why.
Jesus is the Reason for the Season
I know, it’s a cliche, but it’s true. Often we sentimentalise Christmas. Just think of Away in a Manger. No crying? I don’t have video footage, but I’m pretty sure Jesus cried. But this is the Christmas story we are so familiar with. We overlook Jesus’ mission because of this.
Jesus is the reason for the season because Jesus is on a mission. He is doing something. God is at work. He’s in the middle of the scandal of a pregnant, unmarried Mary. Angels are telling shepherds, the rogues of society, the Saviour has come. There are elderly people, barrenness, and the wise-men – at best ethnic Jews from the diaspora.
The people in the Christmas story are not heroes. They are people in need. This is where Jesus steps in, real life. Jesus didn’t wait until people had it all together. He entered into their brokenness. His mission was redemption. Don’t wait until Jesus’ ministry, his death and resurrection to see his mission in action. It starts at his birth. Christmas is missional.
I saw something in the shops the other day. A shopkeeper gave a customer the wrong change, and the customer exploded. His anger was disproportionate. I spoke to the shopkeeper after the customer left. It wasn’t much, just a small act of grace, letting them know they had been treated badly.
Valuing people is the simplest form of missional living. But this doesn’t mean it has no impact. I went to a photo gallery a couple of weeks ago with my 4 children. It was fairly chaotic, me trying to control 4 kids under 8 years old, stopping them from wanting to run or yell. We talked to the photographer. The kids asked how he could take a photo of a leopard so close.
At the end, my kids went up to the staff and said thanks for letting them look at the photos. The woman looked at me and said “Wow. We’ve had hundreds of people come through today and no one else has said thank you. God bless you. Merry Christmas”
I replied “Thanks. Christmas is all about God noticing you.”
That is mission right there.
So, my question for you is, who around you needs to know God notices them?