What can we do to share the story of the most outrageously generous present this world has been graced with when we can’t gather and engage with groups of people?
How can we gently encourage our neighbours and friends to lift their eyes off the pressure to levitate the gloom of the shadow of Covid to the One who truly brings hope and life in all it’s fullness? Here are a bunch of ideas and resources that churches and organisations are doing up and down the country and I share them here with the hope that you too may step out and do something to remind people of the gift of Jesus.
The first thing to do, and surprise surprise to read this: pray. And then, pray some more. Last week I encouraged our students at The Light College to pray for God to open a door for the Mesaage.
Paul asks the same when he is literally in a place of lock down and writes ‘chained up’ as a prisoner.
One student commented that things were tough for Paul back then, he probably didn’t even have WiFi to help him share the message!
Paul writes this: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
The simple truth of this message is that if Paul was asking for prayer for a door to open for the message, then we too should be asking for prayer and praying for the door to be open for the true message of Christmas! Starting from this point of asking we then need to listen and see what doors open for us, and step on through.
Here are some ideas that churches have started to plan out of that place of prayer:
From street Carol singing where you can post or give invites to your neighbours inviting them to come out of their house at a certain time near Christmas, handing out carol sheets beforehand. To putting words in your window, each focusing on four key words we need at this time of year that Jesus gives – Hope, Peace, Joy, Love. These are two of the ideas that my friend Simon Cragg from Christchurch in Welwyn Garden City is helping the church step out and do something as a reminder of the Christmas story.
He writes: “Each week you can create a poster to stick in a bedroom window, similar to how rainbows had a big effect.”
I’ve been so encouraged by my friend Stephen Walker-Williams, minister at Goldhill Baptist Church and what they will do doing over Christmas time. He writes:
My hope and prayer is that by scattering the light through each member of the church more folk will be reached than gathering in one centralised location.
You can download the pdf of the Goldhill ideas here: be the light Christmas 2020
Another ambitious idea is Carols by Car-Light. I will (hopefully) be speaking at an event in a local town. The organisers are planning for 500 cars! Potentially up to 2000 people to take part, safely within the confines of their own cars! The vision for this comes from Faith in Kids.
You can watch the idea here:
My favourite thing to do this year is hide baby Jesus rocks around the community wherever you go, it’s something I’ve done for years but I’m also doing a project in our village called ‘Drop off, pick up.’ The idea is so simple: 1) set up a gazebo and tables 2) invite people to donate food for the local food bank to drop off, 3) once people drop off a gift offer a free pack of goodies which include a craft, treats, a copy of the Christmas story from lifewords and an invite to Alpha. Simple.
But, whatever it is that you do, do something! People need to know the message of hope that you and I are so accustomed to, let’s not keep people out in the dark when it comes to the light of the world.
Would you please share your ideas in the comments below and share resources for others to also engage with people in their communities? It would be wonderful to see what people are up to this Christmas in shining the light of Christ!