Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas is not your birthday: Monday Morning Reflections

I work pretty hard to write and deliver messages on Sunday mornings, and the two services we have are different enough that sometimes things don't translate well.  Sometimes I come out of first service saying, "Wow, that message was really jumbled." In fact, two weeks ago, I felt like I had mostly just read a series of unrelated scriptures and talked a little between them.  In those cases, I go back and look at the message and wonder, "Should I change things?  What can I change between services?" Then I go on to the second service and the message flows smoothly and naturally and people respond. 

To the exact same words.

Other times, there are lyrics in the hymns or special music in the first service that really set the tone for the message, and usually when that happens I talk about that and tie it in and it works really nicely.  Often little things work well in the early service, so I try to duplicate it in the later service, and it usually doesn't work.  Or something "funny" will get a good laugh in first service, so in second service I'll pause to let the laughter subside before I go on, only to hear the dreaded crickets.

Yesterday I felt like the message went well in both services.  Though probably Baby Jason stole the thunder: I talked about being a foster parent and how we just thank God for every moment we get with him.  I used the really-super-happy picture of him for that illustration, but during the first service, I went and got him and held him while I talked about him.

Yes, he almost made me choke up.  But he was so good and quiet and cute that I fear that some missed out on the thrust of the message, or the challenge that I issued.

The challenge isn't something that started with me; I got it from Ginghamsburg Church near Dayton, Ohio, who are doing phenomenal things in Sudan. Their call is this:

Christmas is not your birthday.  Celebrate your birthday on your birthday, but on Christmas, celebrate Jesus' birthday

We are using the same challenge, but our mission is Gracehaven House. Gracehaven seeks through Christian love, to provide shelter and rehabilitation to girls under the age of 18 who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation, and to raise awareness among young women about the issue of domestic minor sex trafficking in order to educate them and equip them so that they can avoid becoming victims themselves.

We are asking the church to match whatever they spend on themselves and their family and friends this Christmas and to give that money to Gracehaven House, as a birthday present for Jesus.

This is an important time in the life of our church.  We have been doing a lot of disciple making, and disciples of Jesus Christ naturally transform the world.  So right now, we are where the rubber meets the road.  It all sounds great in a sermon and looks great on paper.  Let's see how it works in practice!


Rudy said...

I know exactly what you mean about the two services and delivery of messages. Jokes surprisingly go better in first service for some reason... You were dynamite this past Sunday by the way. Cheers.

Big Mama said...

Look forward to reading your sermon. I got choked up just reading this part. Excuse me, gotta go get my tissues! By the way, thanks for continuing to do your blog: it is so much easier for me to access this.