Honoring Jesus at Christmas
I have on my desk a catalog with “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” on the cover. A table is in the foreground with that very phrase printed on party plates, napkins, and cups. There’s also a cake with candles glowing. How many candles does one put on a birthday cake for Jesus? Five seems to work for this catalog.
Baking a cake for Jesus is a great idea, but the commercialization of all things Jesus still irks me a bit. Yet isn’t that Christmas? As Christians, we often find it difficult to remain focused on the spiritual importance of Christmas as we check off our list and scramble for those deals. Ah, ’tis a sticky web we weave when we participate in the commercial aspect of a holy day, a.k.a. “holiday,” a.k.a. that time of year when sales associates are forbidden to say “Merry Christmas.”
So what’s a Christian to do? Bake a cake? Actually, why not? Throw a birthday party for Jesus—not sure the paper products need to be printed with His name on them, but a cake would be great! Bring some birthday cake to your neighbors. Invite guests, pray together for each other. Bring gifts for a specific family in need. Go sing some carols or do some random acts of kindness in the name of Jesus.
Realistically, those of us who can celebrate are blessed, aren’t we? We have health, friends to invite or to be invited to, some extra food or a gift to share with someone in need. But as I sit in my office today, the phone of a coworker is ringing off the hook with people looking for help. We won’t have any more opportunities to give from our Benevolent fund until December 23. I listen as my coworker tells people to call back on the 23rd, and if there are openings for appointments, they can come in to get one. But I know that we’ll have a limited number of appointments and a limited supply of money to give out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve regretted forgetting to intentionally set money aside for the Benevolent offering last month, taken on the Sundays we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. In an effort to get better at this, we’ll be putting a reminder for all of us in the biweekly email we send out. I know I need it.
Also on my desk is a prayer request that came in the Sunday offering plate. “We are in desperate need of a job. My husband is skilled, and we are desperate. We have nothing for Christmas.” This from a family never in such a position before. Someone else in our church has left their home of more than 40 years and moved into a nursing facility. She could use some visits from her church family to create happy memories in her new home. We have many people in our congregation who are ill and in need of encouragement, perhaps through a visit and some prayer.
Perhaps you feel a tugging at your heart to help. I encourage you to call the church. At the very least, please pick up a copy of our weekly prayer list. (They’re on the coffee bar by the ABF wing and the brochure rack at the Information Center desk.) The list is brimming with praise and prayer requests that remind us what’s important this time of year. Your prayers—the fervent prayers of a righteous person—do a great deal.
However you choose to honor Jesus this year, I pray you will feel His blessing on you—not for the deed done, but for the intentional setting aside of your time and perhaps your resources from a sincere heart. May you feel the warmth of His love, so generous, so much more than we deserve, yet so tender and merciful and just and perfect. God’s blessings on you all, dear family of God here at EFCCL.
by Jill Cristao, Director of Connections Ministries