It’s Christmas Eve and tonight we didn’t go to church. It’s been a full day of Christmas with the family. Tomorrow our church is not having church so we will go help a friend serve people in the community that need a Christmas lunch. For this day we are thankful.
As we sit in the quiet of this evening, the fire is burning and the Christmas tree is beautiful but no longer surrounded by presents. Everyone is gone though some will return tomorrow and the house will be full of girls all next week.
I (wes) am drawn to the manger in my mind this evening. It is a place of inclusion. It is a place where grace was born and forgiveness was extended to the broken, the failures and the outsiders. From this manger, Jesus ventured into the world and set about seeking to find the lost, heal the spiritually blind and call people to repentance. He upset the established church because He spent time with people the religious people wanted nothing to do with. He avoided the sacred assemblies and spent His time on the “street.” He cared deeply about broken lives. To the woman at the well He offered what the disciples didn’t have the grace to give and that was time, mercy and love. He cared for the twelve disciples that He called to follow Him even though they were not the sharpest or the most religiously inclined. He told stories of lost sheep, lost coins and a lost son. He went places He shouldn’t have gone and spent time with people He shouldn’t have spent time with according to the religious elite.
And I have good news for some of us . . . that’s still where He spends His time. No matter what the church is spending its time, money and resources on Jesus still walks the “streets.” No matter how cool the services or how many are in attendance, He still spends His time looking for those that have gone astray. He walks the roads of life that most often don’t ever intersect with the church.
As I kneel in my heart this evening at the manger, I pledge to spend my days left on this earth loving like Jesus loved. That’s a big deal and I don’t know if I can do it. I’m laying down the residue of guilt and shame for failures of the past and looking forward to following Him in new ways and to new places. I don’t desire or need a platform or stage but feel the call everyday to provide the message of grace to the broken. Jesus still saves. He still forgives. He still takes the outcast and redeems their lives from destruction.
I’ve picked up my computer several times over the course of this evening and now as I finish this blog post the fire has died out and the Christmas tree lights have been turned off. I am filled with thankfulness for my kids as is Fran for hers. We have wonderful children. I am thankful for Fran who everyday believes in me, loves me and makes me feel like I have value and a reason to keep living . I hope you have a great Christmas and that the baby born on Christmas day (give or take a day) will fill your life with His presence. My favorite line this year from all the Christmas songs I’ve been reading through is still these words from the song “What Child is This?”
Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here The silent Word is pleading.
He still pleads for me at the right hand of the Father everyday . . .and I need it. Don’t be without Him in your life. He loves and cares for you. Open up your heart and let the Christ of Christmas fill your life.
Merry Christmas from Fran and Wes