I’m a Christmas Spirit junkie….there I said it. After all, the first step is admitting you have a problem, right? But man do I get wrapped up in the trees, presents, warm drinks, holly and ivy, carols, nativities, Santa visits, cookies, garland, mistletoe ;), pageants, decorations, smells, sights, and sounds of Christmas. Even last week during our kids performance at the church I found myself fighting back tears as these children sing about Jesus and Christmas (confession again….tearing up slightly now). And I love the fact that my kids are at the perfect age to get excited about all of this stuff! This year we have even been visited by an Elf on a Shelf and my kids think its the most magical thing they have ever seen! But one of my favorite things that happens takes place while we are driving in the car. If we pass by an outdoor nativity scene, yes they still have those, one of my kids, without fail, will yell out, “There’s Jesus”. And I promise this was not prompted by me at all. I don’t even know where it comes from. But all of a sudden, “There’s Jesus”. And I love it. It warms my heart a little more each time.
But it got me thinking; wouldn’t it be something if whenever someone drove by our church (feel free to place your respective church here), they looked out and yelled, “There’s Jesus”. Without a nativity scene, or a giant sculpture like that church between Dayton and Cincinnati on I-75, they still felt compelled to shout out, “There’s Jesus”. Not because of our facilities or our programming or our music or our preaching, but because they as a community knew that this church embodied Christ to them. Jesus was a man of compassion, grace, love, and truth. What if this is what our communities came to chiefly identify our churches as? After all, Jesus said in John 13, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love. Love is what characterizes us as Jesus disciples.
This season is also known as the season of The Incarnation; God becoming flesh. As disciples of Jesus it should be our goal to become incarnations of Jesus as well. One of my favorite passages that talks about what it means to be Jesus incarnate to the world around us is in Matthew 25. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” When we as a church feed, give water, practice hospitality, clothe, heal and visit the imprisoned we become Jesus to those around us.
Maybe then, if these become our chief characteristics, people will find themselves driving by and declaring, “there’s Jesus” for in our church we find the Spirit of Christ defining everything we do. This is my prayer as we move throughout this Advent season and into the years to come.