November 28, 2018
I read recently how many have a dim view of the church and are especially skeptical of religion. It seems to be a recurring theme, especially among the younger demographic. One of the primary reasons it gave was the inability to see any tangible usefulness for religion, or church for that matter, for their lives.
One of the criticisms cited was particularly insightful. Rather than experience the majesty of a transcendent God, they were introduced to an ancient sage more bent on extolling nuggets of self-help advice.
Couple this with our attempts as churches to lure them with marketing gimmicks or fake emotional appeals and it quickly gets recognized as a sham. Especially at a time when people are prone to smell a forgery from a hundred yards away. Which brings me to Christmas.
We have entered into the season of Advent. Many churches will have begun messages that will once again revolve around the story of Jesus being born in a manger. For many of us it has become a story so commonplace, that it has the danger of getting lost in the din of the season, or getting ignored altogether.
Let's change that. Let's recapture the wonder of the season and re-enliven a story that has so much depth theologically and so much hope practically that we dare not lose its ability to impact, transform, inspire, and engage the most skeptical among us.
If young people are looking for transcendence above relevancy, then lets give them a big God. In fact, lets give everyone who shows up a big God. I don't know about you, but 2018 has been a tension filled year, especially from the standpoint of what's been happening on the world stage.
Surely, if there is a time to convey hope and a faith in a God who is wholly capable, the time is now. There is so much white noise all around us that its sometimes hard to find the right filter. There are many pastors, me included, who come to the Christmas season wondering how we can make the story come alive again. And every year I personally come to the same conclusion.
Don't complicate it, don't try and make it relevant, don't attempt to alter the story just to communicate the easy parts. Because every year, the need to hear and resonate with the story of Jesus entering the world as a baby reminds us of our greatest need.
Though we may try to divert ourselves by keeping busy and occupied, the restlessness to satisfy our deepest need will never be met by the outer trappings of Christmas. So, let's reclaim the wonder, let's pronounce His birth, and let's proclaim a God so wondrous and transcendent that it leaves people awestruck.
Then, and only then, will the heart of Christmas truly be elevated above the noise that so permeates this time of year. One last thought. In order for any of this to have impact on anyone, it has to first impact us personally. If the wonder has been lost by those of us who are tasked with communicating it, the wonder will never translate to the hearers.
I know that's true of me. And in the days that I've been preparing for our Christmas messages I have prayed for the wonder of the story to once again be enlivened in me. I hope you are praying to that end too.
“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
December 05, 2018
I can’t wait to hear it!
Thank you. Yamile
December 01, 2018
Wow Jon—what a great reminder for me to keep the birth of Jesus foremost in my mind, especially with the business that this time of year puts on us.
Thank you. Shirley
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July 22, 2019
July 09, 2019
There are moments in life when any forward movement seems impossible. Especially after a difficult season or a period of trauma and hurt. In those times, it's natural to look for answers and to even question the necessity of the experience.
Church leaders often come face to face with the existential questions people are asking after seasons of difficulty and pain. There is a natural tendency for people to want answers, but often, the answers are elusive at best.
June 21, 2019