Christmas Anyone?  

Posted by Ben in

So I know this is long overdue, but I had an awesome Christmas on the East Coast!
Greetings to all of you, and I hope that you enjoyed your Christmas as well as I did.

Now, this summer Galen and I put together some plans for Baltimore over Christmas. It was an exciting time of talking, dreaming, and planning. This semester made it incredibly difficult for me to do what I would have liked to help Galen and stay in correspondence with him long enough. In fact, I had been so busy that I got home and totally forgot that Christmas eve was coming up as soon as it was. Galen had to remind me like 3 times even! However, Galen didn't let me down nearly as much as I had him (that means he pulled through BIG TIME).

He teamed up with his local church, my old home church, Loudoun Valley Church of the Nazarene, and got tons of coats, gloves, and hats. They also donated about a billion sandwiches and two 5-gallon jugs for drinks. We made hot cocoa and iced tea and we took all of this, with some fruit and cookies, down to our park at Fayette and Presidents St. Getting there was slightly difficult, I blame it on the driver (lol, me!). I simply had this thing in my head that kept making me go the wrong direction. Still not sure what it was.

Once we were there, it started with initial excitement through the roof. We were really doing it! There was a bit of a bummer in the middle when we saw how many people were so eager to get a hand-out, and it became clear that probably not all of these people needed it. This is the age-old question with helping the poor isn't it? Do we quit because of all of those who are just living off of aid, but don't need it? Even if it is most of them, do we stop and forsake those few who do so desparately need the help? The initial frustration was easily overcome by the overwhelming joy of receiving sincere thanks from so many who so desperately needed that one extra coat, or that extra hat, or those extra gloves, just to get them through the winter.

Another charity group had been there earlier that night, and another church group showed up later. These are amazing things, and we were very glad to have support from organizations larger than ourselves. However, one thing that stuck out to us; we knew them. There is something profound about God's word that calls us to more than simply "aid" or "help." He calls us to love and relationship. So many expressed sincere gratitude to us for coming and spending time with them, not forgetting about them on Christmas. Among them were even ones who now had a home. Kim, Anthony, and Laura were all there, extremely glad to spend some time with us.

Those who didn't already know us well asked us "what organization are ya'll with?" Awkward an answer as it might seem, it just seemed fitting to respond, "none, we're just with Jesus Christ." It reminded me once again that you don't have to go out with "the purpose of evangelism." The whole of life in Christian Faith is one of mission. This is really where I will want to spend the bulk of my time in this post.

Do we need to "safeguard" our Gospel efforts, as some have said? Should priority be put on the "evangelism," or as some would choose to water down the gospel enough to say "the proclamation of the Gospel." But is proclaiming eternal heaven/hell and Christ's death/our sin really good enough to be called the Gospel? Is social justice just part of the work of the Chirsitan? Or is it in fact part of the Gospel itself. Is it of equal importance? Are the two inseparable? The Bible would say it is. My experience here says it is.

You see, when your life flows out of the life of Christ, evangelism just happens. It happens in the midst of feeding and clothing the poor. You can't help but speak about it. You don't need to prioritize, it doesn't get left out. We had an opportunity to share our hope and faith in Christ with many people that night. Many already had accepted faith. Some listened and prayed with us, not exactly making a "conversion" per say, but making a step. That brings up a separate question which won't be addressed in this post, what is conversion?

Anyhow, We had way too much fun that night. We celebrated Christmas, and let me tell you, it sure was Christmas. And boy did it ever feel like it! There was tons of joy and gratitude. There was much spread of gifts out of our heart and life, out of the goodness of the gift that has been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Today, I want to submit that the act of giving, the act of sacrifice, and the act of love, are evangelistic in and of themselves. When we live the life of Christ, a life of love and sacrifice, it is missional and evangelistic at its core. It beckons a response, it is real and unignorable. Maybe we as the church should make every day a little more like Christmas. Just a thought for today.