“What it means to be Christian?” Many people will reply, “Do the right thing,” or “Live a good enough life to get into heaven.” People believe it is up to us to earn God’s love. That is not Jesus’ message. Jesus’ message is one of overwhelming grace, forgiveness and love. We are claimed by God in the waters of our baptisms. We see this in Jesus’ baptism, where God says, “You are my child with you I am well pleased.” Jesus’ baptism happens before he begins his ministry, before he heals and preaches to the crowds, Jesus hasn’t done anything and God says, “I love you, you give me overwhelming joy.” It isn’t about what we do or decide, baptism is about God’s love for us.
As part of God’s amazing love, God creates in us strengths and through our baptisms we are called by God to use our gifts for the thriving of our neighbor and the world God loves. God cares about all the world and is active in our world and believes in us so much that we are God’s plan for the thriving of the world. A place where all are included. A community where all are welcome at the table.
We are surrounded by powerful stories. Stories where unexpected turns challenge and change us and the ones we love. Any time of year is good but this season seems to afford space to ask people questions that need longer answers, answers that remind us who we are.
In some ways that’s what the Bible is, our ancestors in the faith sharing stories of how God’s faithfulness and love renewed and recreated their lives. The story of Christmas is God coming so near to us that now Christ is in us and our true identity is in Christ. Our story is Christ’s story. Our finite bears the infinite. The love born at Christmas lives in us.
How many of you have heard or said with exasperation, “It’s December!” …and really what a month: crowded calendars, last minute errands, special programs and everything else. It is unlikely that First Century Christians could have imagined one tenth of one percent of what “preparing for Christmas” looks like for us today. I wonder if part of what our vocation as Christians, the way we can serve the world, is to stop, notice and point out joy? I invite you right now to take a few deep breathes and ponder joy.
Throughout history God’s people have been joyful, we have hoped in the future that God is bringing about. One of the gifts of reading the Bible is to see that God’s peoples’ joy isn’t just based in happy circumstances, but it is an attitude God’s people adopt because of their hope in God’s love and promises. In the midst of slavery, wilderness, exile and disruption God’s people are filled with joy.
That is us. Peace Lutheran is a place of joy—where we are honest about life’s disruptions and we take a deep breath and like God’s people before us we adopt a hope in God’s love and promises. We rejoice together. We sing together. We serve living out all our vocations together. We experience God’s love and we participate in God’s mission together.
The Christmas season is a time when many people are thinking about church. Many that don’t often come to worship would consider coming if asked by someone they know.
Who is God calling you to ask? Is it a neighbor, co-worker, friend or family member? It’s not about pressure but welcome and invitation. It might be someone you see everyday but don’t know that well–someone that serves you your coffee.
This Christmas season Peace has a variety of worship experiences: Music Festivals, Bluegrass Christmas, Candle Light Christmas Eve, and South African Singer. Check out Peace Lutheran’s Christmas worship experiences here.