Summer’s coming…the days are getting hotter and more humid…there’s cricket on the TV and the 4th term of school is flying by, it won’t be long before the school holidays start and the Christmas rush begins. We rush to fit in Christmas parties with our work colleagues; with our social groups and our community…we brush off the decorations, bring out the lights, sing some carols and give gifts…We celebrate the coming of Christ our saviour – the prince of peace – yet Christmas is one of the most stressful days on our calendar! What have we made of the Christmas season? We have removed the focus from the giver to ‘a gift’. We have taken Christ out of Christmas and what we have left is a meal. It’s a sign of the times.
We have a bit of fun with our church sign. We try to put up witty and thought provoking things for those who are travelling by. Looking at our sign may be the only connection with church that many people passing by will see. I wonder what the local community thinks of our church? Certainly the perception of church and Christianity has changed over the last few decades.
It’s a sign of the times that certain freedoms that we once experienced in being able to share our faith publically have gradually been eroded to the place where we have only Christmas and Easter set aside as ‘holy-days’. Yet, even the reason for these days is lost in the ever increasing push for consumerism. It’s no surprise that many of the children in our schools have no concept of Christianity; without the ministry of our school chaplains, whose role in schools is one of presence more than proclamation. Yet, even their presence is being challenged – by those who see Christianity and religion as nothing more than a crutch for the weak minded.
Romans 10:10-17 asks how will people know unless someone tells them? It also asks, how can someone tell them unless we send them? One of the roles of the local church is to send out people for particular jobs – to be messengers – missionaries – sent ones! We send out our people to help at Ashmore State School, as Kid’s Hope Aus mentors; as Religious Education teachers; to do concerts, Christmas festivals and holiday programs, because we know that this is what Jesus would have us do!
I have said before, that the majority of people who come to faith in Jesus Christ have had foundations laid in their lives when they were children. Rather than retreat to the edges of our community and only come out when we have permission, Jesus sends us into our communities to bring the love of God and the hope of the good news. We may have fewer opportunities than we had in the past in some areas, but that just allows us to be prayerful and get creative to find new ways that we can be a Christian presence in our community.
So, let’s be proactive about the opportunities that we have to present the good news beyond our doors. Things may be different than they were in the past. But the good news of the gospel is relevant to everyone across human history…past, present and future…for Jesus the good news for all times…