Archive for November 2009

Advent and Christmas connections

November 26, 2009

Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, Lutheran Church–Canada’s mission executive shares connection ideas.

1. Unwrap the Gift of the Advent and Christmas services to your church’s surrounding community, to your family members and friends. Outward-focused congregations try to engage people in their surrounding communities especially during this season, inviting them for fellowship, worship, coffee or hot chocolate and singing Christmas carols. These activities build bridges for Gospel sharing. During this time encourage your pastor and church members to focus outward, unwrapping for many the Greatest Gift of all.

2. CCCC – Connecting Christ with the lonely and solitary in your community this Christmas. Several churches and organizations will hand out food and clothing for those who are without food, clothing and shelter. At this time of year caring churches get busy outside their sanctuaries trying to warm up the lives and hearts of people with the love of Jesus Christ. A women’s group in one congregation participated in “warm feet for the street.” They went out to needy people on the streets of Vancouver and handed out socks and warm clothing with a Christian greeting and message. Doing these things for others is like doing it for Jesus Himself, as He says, “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’” (Matthew 25:35-36).

3. Connect for Christ with those in nursing homes, hospitals and prisons. A friendly visit, a Christian Christmas greeting, a prayer—or just being there with those who suffer—is a great sign of love and compassion. It imparts comfort and helps to alleviate their burdens as we share Jesus with them. Members can find themselves enriched greatly in their Christian life as they take time to regularly visit people in hospitals and prisons. As Jesus said: “… I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’” (Matthew 25:36).

4. Among her other activities, Ruth Peng keeps herself busy during the week reaching out to others and inviting them to meet Jesus at her church on weekends. As her pastor, I had the privilege of meeting the friends she would bring to service and fellowship on Sunday mornings. Early this year she met a lady, Linda, at a shopping mall in Vancouver. After personal introductions and ice-breaking moments she invited Linda to join her in church. It took some time for Linda to come, but Ruth had kept in contact with her. Ruth started faithfully and regularly praying for Linda in our prayer service. One day they arranged to go out for coffee together. The following Sunday Linda and Ruth attended worship, Bible study and fellowship time. Linda had made the point that her mom had been baptized in a Lutheran church, but she had never attended a church herself. Linda became interested in the teachings of the Bible; she came to our adult class; later she was baptized and now Ruth meets with her every week for Bible study and prayer. What a joy! “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”” (Isaiah 52:7).

5. Pray for your community this Christmas, for someone to come to faith in Jesus Christ. Build bridges for Jesus’ sake. A member of my previous congregation makes a point of keeping her prayer list up-to-date. She prays for each member of her congregation. When she meets people in her community or when visitors come to church, she reaches out to them, takes their names and prays for them regularly – and follows up with a personal contact. Prayer and community mission outreach go hand-in- hand producing results for the salvation of people and for the glory of Christ.