TIS THE SEASON TO BE CREATIVE
There are always new campaigns, fashions, ideas and events brought out at Christmas. And the original Christmas story has a plethora of Holy Spirit creative moments where good news is given or received in interesting and new ways. Because the Church has to do Christmas ever year, there is probably the pressure of having to find new ways of communicating the same classic tale, but essentially the Spirit of God loves to help us be inventive in our approach to telling His amazing story of life and love.
Those first characters – Jesus’ family, shepherds, wise men, onlookers – all stepped in to a Spirit-breathed experience that was thrilling and genuinely helpful and powerful; and there’s no reason why we can’t do the same this year, especially after the grim, life-squeezed oppression that we have felt for so long.
At our church foodbank in Stafford, hundreds of food and toy parcels have been made up – and resources are still pouring in. One exciting aspect of this is that British Gas van-driving employees have become the angels/shepherds of our story and are the gift bearing messengers of hope and goodness – delivering the food and toys wherever they need to go! And it seems they are enjoying joining in in this way. In fact, buying and giving the food is a great thing to do. Emptying a full foodbin at the end of your drive and bringing it to the church centre feels productive. Packing it all – there was a group of Santa’s elves in church last week making up 500 big toy bags – is rewarding. And then delivering it – in the manger-on-wheels - next to pipes, spanners, boiler parts and radiators – is great fun. And that’s before the person in most need actually receives the gift. That’s a lot of life being experienced!
I had a sneak preview of footage from our online carol service yesterday. The music is fabulous and there are some moments of drama that I found really moving. It’s going to be fantastic – again, its full of creativity, colour, words and familiar local scenes. Last week I watched the Christmas film from our friends at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham USA and was astounded at the quality of it all. These creative industries can carry and express the good news of God wonderfully and powerfully. Do let people know that ours premieres on our YouTube channel on Monday 21st and let its message fill your own soul
I was in contact with a friend, Andy Scarcliff, who used to be minister at our church back in the 1990s. He is a really creative person and manages to use, reflect and celebrate culture in expressing and communicating faith in a brilliant way. He is just beginning a series on Premier Radio starting on Saturday 19th December. It will be well worth pointing friends in that direction who enjoy music and culture but may not yet have faith themselves.
And then our own church locations have managed to turn the current regulations to their advantage and come up with great ways to celebrate Christmas, invite people into goodwill, show kindness and create special moments. Some of these events may be smaller and more confined in scope than usual, but they are also creating more chance for conversations – and in the case of Open Hands Signing Church - being broadcast to hundreds of people nationally rather than held in a drafty local church building for those few who can drive in.
The squeeze on people 2000 years ago in Palestine led to some great moments of awe, wonder and celebration. Let’s pray that our current confinement leads us to rely on the Holy Spirit a whole lot more and make the most of every opportunity to shine out the eternal good news that God is with us.
Martin J Young
P.S. Have a Christ-filled Christmas and I look forward to being back in the new year
British Gas van drivers are now the angels and shepherds