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The Strangest Thing

For years I have enjoyed reading Circuit Rider magazine.  The most recent addition focuses on mission and evangelism.  It is worth perusing.  I did so and ran into the following story from an article entitled “Evangelism with the Never-Churched” by Dr. Jack Jackson. Dr. Jackson writes: “Last Christmas season, my family walked through the downtown community where we live. In one of the store windows we passed were a small set of woodcarvings that included a baby, two adults right next to the baby, three kingly-looking persons nearby, and a scattering of cows, donkeys, and ducks. I still am not sure of the significance of the ducks, but we were looking at a crèche. One of my children’s friends pointed out the Nativity scene. He said it was the strangest thing he had ever seen. Cows never hang out with ducks, much less people, he said. ‘What is this?’ he asked. My wife responded by saying it was the Nativity scene. ‘What is that?’ came the response. ‘It is the story of Jesus’ birth in the stable.’ To which our friend said, ‘Never heard of it.’” Think about it.  The Christmas story is the strangest thing.  Faith in Christ as Lord and Savior hinges on the outrageous conviction that God has visited and taken up residence on planet Earth in the person and work of Jesus the Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is mind-blowing! Double think about it.  We often assume that people know the story.  Today, for many, this is not so.  Dr. Jackson continues: “It is not necessary to recap the growth trends of people leaving Christian places of worship. Recent polls suggesting that 20 percent of U.S. citizens have no connection to any religious tradition surprise few. Most of us also know that there are people in our communities, like my child’s friend, with virtually no awareness of the basics of the Christian gospel. And yet evangelistic and missional practices in many churches seem to assume an awareness of the Christian story that clouds effective evangelism” (“Evangelism with the Never-Churched” by Jack Jackson, published in the Circuit Rider November/December/January 2012-2013). As I have said before, Advent and Christmas is prime-time evangelism.  This is an opportunity to sing and pray, teach and preach about the greatest story ever told.  This is a chance to invite non- or nominal Christian friends and family members to worship with you.  Now is the ideal time to introduce someone to the Lord of the universe who comes in the form of a baby named Jesus. Whatever you do this advent, reach out and invite.  Feature prominently on your website worship times, especially Christmas Eve services (the highest attended worship for non-Christians!).  With love and care, offer the Lord to the whole community through your witness and worship.  It is the strangest thing.  This birth we prepare for and celebrate is also the most wonderful thing!