Over the past few days I have donned an angel or shepherds costume (and yes, looked a bit of a prat) and ventured into the pubs and shops of two of my local towns to bring something of the true Christmas story to people. The challenge was how to communicate a huge whopping great big meta narrative and how could such a story be applied? So- the challenge was on- how could I proclaim the most outrageously generous gift ever given, in such a way that didn’t lecture people for 15 minutes and leave them feeling all ‘bible bashed?’ I wanted to bring a simple ‘heart of the matter’ Christmas story. I believe one of the core themes of Christmas is simply a reminder that all of humanity is loved. Think about the oft quoted verse, John 3.16. Jesus declared himself to be the answer to the extravagant love shown by God, he was the one given so that the whosoever’s who believe in him should not perish but have the mysterious gift of everlasting life.
So, this is what I did: I bought simple glass t-light candle holders and 200 candles and then wrote in gold and silver metallic pen on the glass holder ‘you are loved.’ I placed them in a rustic wicker basket and offered the gifts. On some of the candles I had simply written ‘….is loved’ and left space for me to write people’s names as I gave them the free gift. (This simple gesture to write names on was so effective, at one point young people queued up to receive their gift, some wanting their mum’s names written on it- a little free Christmas gift!)
Time and time again I met people, dressed as an angel with my wonky wings and declared, ‘Christmas reminds us that we are loved’ or ‘I want you to know that you are loved.’ People got it, responded to the message in such profound ways and gladly received the gifts. Time and time again people expressed their gratitude for the reminder of what ‘Christmas is really all about…’ As I went on my alternative pub crawl assisted by a shepherd bearing gifts I felt God’s presence right with us. Some people stopped us and commended what we were doing as Christmas was ‘way too commercial or too bling or…’
My approach may sound a bit gimmicky and twee, but at times God’s presence was tangible in the pubs and as we declared ‘you are loved’ some people were visibly touched not just by our gesture and kind words, but by the one who says ‘Go’ and by the way, ‘I am with you as you go.’
Wow, what an honour it is to declare God’s love to people.
In what ways have you brought the message of Christmas to people this year?