To Receive the Messiah
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Our reception of Christ confirms his coming to the nations around us.
Our reception of Christ confirms his coming to the nations around us.
Welcome to the last week of 2015. I hope it has been a good year for you. It has been an exciting year here at CrossRoads, and it has all been about what you have done as part of our church family. I have no doubt that in the New Year we will see God’s big plans continue to take shape here at CrossRoads.
Last spring we began to work on a new strategy for giving people an opportunity to hear the message of Christ and to take his Kingdom outside the walls of our church. At the time we had four small groups made up of people attending CrossRoads on Sunday morning. I issued you a challenge to begin listening for people in your life asking spiritual questions. You responded. Over the next nine months you listened, and God moved. We now have nine small groups meeting each week. Five of those groups are places our CrossRoads folks get together to love and support one another. Four of those groups are made up of people outside of CrossRoads – many of whom do not have a “Sunday morning church” they call home. Many weeks we have more people getting together in our small groups than come to worship in our building on Sunday morning. It’s been exciting to see our small groups become the heart of ministry for us.
As our small groups have grown, I’ve watched a new ministry paradigm become reality for us. One day this fall I was sitting in a meeting with pastors from other churches in our area. We were talking about how to get better at doing ministry within a specific demographic in our community. (For those of you who haven’t spent your lives around church, ministry is a church word for meeting people’s needs.) As I listened to the speaker at that meeting, I realized that our small groups have not become one of our ministries. They have become how we do ministry. They have become the way you are meeting one another’s needs for support, friendship, growing in Christ and sometimes even when financial emergencies strike. Your commitment to this new idea for touching lives is reshaping our church to become a movement in our community for Christ. Make sure not to miss out this January as we take a look at Riding the Wave God started this year.
So, what does God have in store for 2016? Of course, none of us knows for sure, but if the last nine months is any reflection of what’s to come, I can’t wait to see what the new year has for us. Make sure not to miss this January as we talk about the next wave in the movement God has started!
I thought I would take a minute to share an article I ran across about Santa Claus. As I thought about the article, I realized that some of the principles about Santa also applied to talking with your children about Star Wars and just about every other make believe story. In an article he wrote for the Washington Post, Mark Driscoll made some great points about what he and his wife teach their children about Santa.
One of the first principles in Mark’s article is that parents have to decide how they are going to address issues in our culture. He points out that Santa and similar ideas are hard to dismiss because they are so prominent. Since they can’t be dismissed, parents have to decide if they are going to demonize or redeem them. In light of the movie everyone is going to see this week, this is a pretty important idea for parents to understand. When you take your kids to see Star Wars, will you use the principles in the film to teach them about make believe stories and what they can teach us about good and evil? Or, will you let them believe it really happened “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”? Sounds silly, right? Recently, I spoke with a children’s Sunday School teacher who asked his students what they were afraid of. Their answer: ZOMBIES! Some of the children in his class actually believed that zombies are real and might one day take over the world! Seriously!
In his article Mark writes that they teach their children the truth about Santa Clause – that his story is based on the life of a real person who showed God’s love by giving gifts to people who need it. He tells them that just like children enjoy dressing up like pirates or princesses, people dress up like the person in Santa’s story to remember him and how he helped people.
As believers we all need to be careful what we teach about myths, legends, stories and make believe. Our children need to understand how to read an interpret stories that are true as well as fiction. I hope between Santa and Star Wars you will take some time to think about how you want to teach your children to understand the make believe around us.
Read all of Mark Driscoll’s article: markdriscoll.org/what-we-tell-our-kids-about-santa
It’s been a great 2015 here at CrossRoads Church. We hope it’s been a great year for your family. Now as the year draws to a close, we hope your family will help us wrap it up with a bow at our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. If you haven’t had the chance to be part of this service, it’s kind of like most things here at CrossRoads. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s special. It’s about forty-five minutes of Christmas carols, the Christmas story, a few inspirational thoughts, candles, cookies and us together to celebrate our savior on a special night.
What makes it special? Our family and your family. If you have not ever been part of a church where you can feel at home, it’s truly something special. After the shopping and wrapping are done, we just get together to enjoy the evening. For over ten years many of you have made CrossRoads part of your family’s Christmas Eve tradition. We love meeting grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces. We love setting a tone of hope and joy for your family’s evening together. And we love being part of your family’s tradition.
Exciting things are just beginning here at CrossRoads. This January we will begin the new year focusing on one of the most important developments in the history of our church. The exciting part is that it’s about what God is already doing in the lives of people around us. It’s also about you being you. This year we are going to continue to help each other build our lives together to touch the lives of the people around us. It’s pretty amazing what God is doing. We hope you will be ready to ride the wave with us in the new year.
Have you been to those Holiday Parties that are all about dressing up, minding your manners and making a good impression? Me, too. Thankfully, our Christmas parties are about sharing Christmas fun together. Of course there are moments to take life seriously, but, seriously, when we get a chance to push the pause button on life and enjoy one another’s company, let’s make the most of it.
Friday night was one of those opportunities for our ladies. They laughed together and fought (Is that too strong a word?) over Christmas ornaments for a couple hours at our annual Ladies Ornament Exchange. As you can tell from the pictures, they enjoyed every minute of it.
These moments are important. Fun and games give us the chance to get to know one another, share our lives, test each others boundaries and deepen our friendships with hugs, smiles and laughter. Then, when the harder, not-so-fun moments of life come along, we have a foundation that helps us care for one another well.
Good news. The fun and games are not over this Christmas at CrossRoads. Today after our Sunday worship Santa Claus will be making an appearance. He’ll share cookies, stories and photos with our families. Then, at 6:30 on Christmas Eve we will all get together to sing Christmas carols, read the Christmas story and light candles together. We hope your family will be part of the Christmas fun!
Here are some pictures from the Ladies Ornament Exchange.
I want to say a big thank you to all the folks who were part of making Christmas brighter by participating with our annual Christmas Cheer event. Thank you to everyone who gave during the month of November. You helped give $2,400 that we invested in families who needed help with Christmas this year. Thank you to everyone who spent a few hours Saturday to help purchase and wrap presents for six different families. And thank you, families who let us help you with Christmas. We know that sometimes we all run across bumps in the road of life. Thank you for the joy of sharing God’s love with you and your family this Christmas. We look forward to the day you get to be the ones helping other families facing challenging times.