What an odd Christmas season this has been for us this year. In our first few years here we were always busy, busy, busy with the church Christmas program and/or dinner, the annual church leader appreciation dinner, the youth Christmas party, and probably a few other things thrown in as well.
Since earlier this year we began a Sunday Bible study in our home, we’re no longer involved in the church programs and parties and the dinner. With the changeover of our mission structure to teams, the appreciation dinner responsibilities were turned over to the national church leaders to plan. They didn’t plan it, so it didn’t happen.
We did receive a couple of invites from folks in the church, including one of the leaders who called me, to attend the church dinner last Sunday. We planned on attending but last weekend and continuing through this week I’ve struggled with colitis that has bothered me all year but has suddenly worsened. Last Sunday was the worst day and by afternoon I didn’t think we were going to make it to the dinner.
About a half hour before we would have left for the dinner, our next-door neighbor came over to personally invite us to a birthday party for their son and to have some birthday cake with them. This same party we attended last year as well.
We didn’t want to let that opportunity pass since their son and at times the mom have shown some measure of spiritual interest while none of the rest of the family to my knowledge have ever really expressed any interest. They are our neighbors after all and we even share a wall of the house with them! I wasn’t feeling too great but figured a few feet next door was much easier than a drive across town and a church service and dinner that would end up lasting about 5 or 6 hours (it really did!).
It was a really good time and as the only adult male in attendance I enjoyed conversing with the dad. In the past he’s made it clear that he doesn’t believe in anything…no God, nothing. I also recall that it was he who wouldn’t allow this same son to not attend church services or the house church with the Yingling family.
It is sad but there’s always hope of somehow God speaking to his heart. The Yinglings have spent hundreds of hours over the years with our neighbors so I don’t know that our time with them will be extra beneficial, but that’s not really the point. Only God knows what He may do in their lives. Whatever seeds He may want to plant in their lives will be beneficial to His purpose.
We’re officially “on vacation” now. We’ll still have Sunday “services” with Jason and Kristin. Last Sunday we looked into the Christmas story, some of the main prophecies and some of the myths and false notions about Christmas that are commonly held.
This ended up being a well-timed topic for them. The large factory Jason works for has a departmental competition each year for designing and explaining a nativity scene. There are 200 people in his department and the administrative secretary, who was rounding up a representative for each department to explain their scenes, chose Jason. He told me that she chose him because in the past he had told her he was studying the Bible with a friend and that he was learning a lot. So, when he told her he really didn’t know much about the nativity story, she replied, “Well, you’re studying the Bible with that friend of yours, so you’ve got an inside track!”
Jason really wanted to do a good job with explaining not just the elements of the nativity scene that his department put together, but to put in some of the prophecies and the real reason why Jesus came. What a joy it was to see Jason wanting to share his faith with his co-workers.
May your Christmas celebration be worthy of the King of Kings, and we trust that all of us will likewise be ready and willing to share our reason for the hope that is within us…our hope in the Savior…with those who don’t yet know and understand the “Bethlehem Baby” who came to be the “Passover Propitiation.”