What are your memories of Christmas? My most memorable Christmas presents over the years have been a dolls house, a netball post (I sucked at netball but I always gave it a try!), a walkman and most recently a vacuum cleaner (I know, I really do get some exciting presents, but when you are first married it is something you really need...). But you know, the presents get used or wear out and eventually you forget all about them, and what you are left with are the real memories.
I remember being up really early and my mum playing board games with me until everyone else woke up so we could open presents. I remember the nativity plays we used to do on Christmas Eve at our church and the rush to get from there into the car to my Nan and Grandad's house. I remember the open air carols in our town with the Salvation Army Brass Band. I remember opening our stocking presents from Santa on my parents bed every year until I was about 21! I remember always wanting to be a server at the midnight mass service at church because everyone used to come in from the pub and we would try to guess who was drunk. I remember our neighbours down the street having an open house on New Year's Day. I remember loving the time I got to spend with my extended family.
I have some great memories, and I am hoping that I can start to build some for Sam this year and in the future. But one thing I am desperate to make sure I achieve at Christmas is to reach out to others also. Christmas is all about the good news of Jesus, and so I don't want to miss out on using it to its full advantage. That is why this year I have committed to putting on an open house for anyone and everyone - neighbours, friends, family. I will also be collecting canned food donations for our local foodbank.
There are so many great ways that we can use Christmas for mission, so here is my list of quickfire ideas that you could use last minute (as Christmas is now only a week away!!!)
- invite your neighbours/colleagues/people at playgroup to your church nativity service or carol service. Everyone likes to feel Christmassy at this time of year so its a great chance to get people through the door to hear the real message of Christmas
- do an act of kindness - whether that is a present for someone you know is in need, a donation to a charity or a foodbank or leaving a Christmas card with a message of hope in it somewhere public - it could make a huge difference to someone
- take part! Just by being involved in some of the Christmas activities in your community might open up doors to talk to people about the real meaning of Christmas. So rather than sitting inside grumbling about Santa and commercialism, get out there and spread some joy!
- make some handmade treats and hand them out to those who are lonely this Christmas - perhaps an older person down the street, a nursing home or women's refuge. Tie a bible verse to each one with ribbon or put a nice note saying "praying for ..... this Christmas". People will value that sentiment if nothing else and if that prayer is answered it will open doors for future conversations.
Well I am out of ideas, but just want to encourage you all to make some amazing memories this Christmas. (p.s. please share any great mission/Christmas ideas you have below.....)