A powerful Christmas scene

++Update: YouTube has blocked the video I used in this post due to copyright restrictions. Now, you’ll have to watch the episode!++

Tonight, our church hosted a Service of the Longest Night.  I’ve repeatedly said that I anticipate this service more than the other Christmas time services.  Yes, even candlelight worship.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love candlelight and sharing in Communion as we praise God for the gift of Jesus.  From time to time I see the faces of nursing home residents in my mind.  For several years, we hosted a Christmas Eve service at a local nursing home.  As I have lit the Christ candle and walked the Light down the center aisle as the residents watched, joy filled their faces.  I love that.

But the Longest Night service reminds me of our true need.  We….I need healing, hope and to be reminded that the Light of Christ always shines through our darkest moments.  Salvation.  Shalom.

And God has given us the Light to shine into the lives of others.

When we got home from the Longest Night service, I recalled an episode of Call the Midwife on Netflix. Gloria began watching Call the Midwife last year.  I eavesdropped from time to time as I was reading or writing.  I admit that I gradually became a fan of the series.  And I have no problem telling you how powerful I think the following scene is.

Just watch

I recommend you watch the entire 2012 Christmas episode.  There’s more to the story and you would appreciate how difficult it had been for the caretakers to find themselves at the home of the woman.  But just by watching you can use your imagination when you see the semi-displeased look of the nurse.  You can hear the attitude and rejection in the woman’s voice. At one point the old woman took a good swing at the nun.

Still, the caretakers pursued.

They pursued someone others had given up on or would just have forgotten otherwise.  There is so much beauty in these brief 3 minutes.

  • Again, they are attempting to care for the woman even after she has displayed less than friendly behavior toward them.
  • Notice the struggle of the nurse. What else would she rather be doing at that moment.
  • Hear the compassion of the nun as she realizes the nature of the woman’s pain.
  • Someone more equipped to help the woman, a podiatrist, would be of service to the woman later.  But, for now, they had care to give her.
  • Shame.  The woman looks away at her shame.
  • The first time I watched this, I teared up as O Come, O Come Emmanuel played.  That was Incarnational ministry.
  • The woman is able to look into the eyes of those who are caring for her.  Shame no more.

That is what Emmanuel means.  That God is with us.  And when you and I share God’s care with the world, especially to those the world would rather forget, we are bringing the Light to the world.  It’s like Christmas has come again.

And that is a very, merry Christmas!

Stay blessed…john

 

 

 

Cowboys for a night

Our youth group hosts a taco breakfast every Sunday morning in order to raise money for summer camp.  They attend camp in Sacramento, NM.

It had been a while that I noticed a slump in attendance at the breakfast.  Consequently, the amount of money they raised every week decreased, too.  After they would work all morning, they would come to Sunday School and I would ask them how much they made.  Disappointed, they would tell me they made ~$30.

I wanted to find a way to boost their morale and help them out more.

The idea came while watching a Sunday NFL game.  A commercial that featured the Salvation Army kettle caught my attention.  I had already decided I was going to volunteer to ring the bell this year.  Then it hit me!

I have followed the Eagles since the 1980s.  All these Cowboys fans around me are so confused.  “Why would you like the Eagles?”

Randall Cunningham, Seth Joyner, Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Mean Green. Those are good reasons.

Everyone knows I’m an Eagles fan.

So, I decided to put our sports enthusiasm to the test.  If the church could help the youth raise $1,000 in one month (4 Sundays), I would ring the bell, like I had originally intended, but while wearing any Cowboys gear they provided.  Game on!

Well, they raised $1,001.  The extra dollar was just to make sure.  So, the church came through and I followed through.

Eagles fan posing for Salvation Army

What this picture doesn’t show is the foam finger and Cowboys flag I was presented with.  It was a fun night.  Several people from church stopped by to support what we were doing.  A lot of pictures were taken.  It was fun, but next year I’m going to have to raise the amount!  #FlyEaglesFly

Stay blessed…john

The Sweetest Gift

Wow!

Its’ a simple song, but carries a deep sense of grief wrapped in the hope of God.  I hope you’ll listen, and, if your heart is burdened by the loss of a loved one, that you would be encouraged today.

Christmas is about hope, peace and love.  And it all came to us in Christ.  So, may our Lord bring to you those gifts.

Stay blessed…john

Rethinking Christmas

Growing up, Christmas was my favorite holiday. Yes, that made me like every other kid.  And I should confess: It was the gifts.

Now, to be sure, there were other things that made Christmas-time nice: houses covered with lights; school parties; Dickens on the Strand; and Christmas vacation. If one of those were to be left out I would feel like I was missing something, that Christmas was a bit incomplete.

There are activities today that take the place of those childhood expectations. Thankfully, I have learned none of those things make Christmas.

Perhaps I am preaching to the choir, but that’s okay.

For many people Christmas is another reminder of a great loss. Many families know this will be the first Christmas since their loved one passed away. Also, even at Christmas, tragedy always finds itself on the news. Surely, then, Christmas has to mean more than red-bowed gifts and office parties.

Indeed, it does!

Christmas is the reminder that God is with us—that God came to us and will always be with us. In our joy or sorrow we can trust that God is with us. Without that, there is no Christmas. May God’s presence, then, be everything to you this Christmas.

Stay blessed…john

Tie a tie

The professionalization of ministry will blind you to the fact that what happens in this video is part of the real, every day life ministry scripture describes.  It’s about taking time to care for someone else, even if that means something as small and quick as tying someone’s tie for them.

Question: Outside of church activities and events, what does your faith in Christ compel you to do for other people?  I can’t wait to hear the ways you put your faith into action.

Stay blessed…john