Reflecting On Our Christmas Eve Services

We had a number of Christmas Eve services happening throughout our campuses this last weekend and I’ve been thinking about the message. It was entitled, “Unto You” and before it, there was a well-acted short drama piece of three characters who were shepherds. This is my first year here so I hope I can say this without sounding prideful, but because I am yet discovering the church too, I must say that these elements were so well done. There are numerous collaborative creative planning meetings that go into this and the intentionality of it really makes a difference.

Certainly this is not to imply anything negative of any other church I’ve observed but it’s been important to me on a couple of levels. One, I’ve never been on the inside of a church this large before and it’s been great for me to see how seriously such things are taken. It’s been my impression that some times, larger churches get by without much intentionality but rely on talent and spectacle.  It’s been such an encouragement for me to see how seriously we take such aspects of our ministry. Further, the motivation is not born out of people-pleasing perspective but from a worshipful one that aims to offer hope and clarity to people.

I was especially blessed by what we are doing with our Christmas Eve offering.  To quote our website, “This year, all gifts in the Christmas Eve offering from the Lexington campus will go to support The Boston Project’s community development work in an area of Dorchester declared a “food desert” for its lack of accessible, affordable, healthy food options. This Grace Chapel ministry partner will work with neighbors to build a 5,000 square foot Children’s Community Garden

Not only does this appeal to my “missional” persuasion, but it is also remarkable because we are significantly behind on a budget that’s already been cut drastically. I am extremely grateful because “thinking more outward” is something this church has been working on for years now and something that I’ve been working on.  It communicates well to the “outer community” and it also strengthen the inner community when the leadership of the church gives away the Christmas Eve offering (they do this every year by the way, last year they help a clean water campaign in Darfur.  They may not call it Advent Conspiracy, but this is the concept).

I felt that this message was amplified by the drama piece and the sermon because they centered on the idea that though many of us might feel on the “outs” in the scale of life, God is with us. Among the most incredible scenes on the night that Jesus was born was the angels appearing to the lowly shepherds and announcing that the King has been born. When you want to announce news, you generally contact those who control the gateways of information, leadership (and we would include the media in our context) but God saw it fit to tell the news to those who were considered on the “less important” side of their society. Though they may have felt forgotten and isolated, He not only gives them this incredible news to them first but the news includes them and it says, “I’m on your side, I’m with you.  Unto you a child has been born.”

Most likely, we can all relate to this idea of being left-out in some way but the two great truths to celebrate here are, in the Kingdom of God, no one is on the outside and two, when you give sacrificially to those “outside your community”, you strengthen the inner one as well.


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