Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thank you for making Christmas merry for many!

Merry Christmas everyone! We at Crosswind greet you and trust that you had a wonderful Christmas, celebrating the arrival of our Lord Jesus some 2000 years ago.

We at Crosswind have many friends who are celebrating Christmas this year in a very different way. For some, it is their first Christmas since they were young that they celebrated Christmas sober. For others, this is there first Christmas out of jail or prison. Others spent Christmas with their families, some families that have been broken and estranged for years... Christmas together.

If you take the whole season and wrap it up, isn't Christmas really about family, about being together? WAIT! Don't hang up! Of course it's about Jesus, hold on... I'll get there.

Every year at Christmas time, if you think about what you do, it's about family. You go to relatives' homes (in the south some of us have five or six Christmases), go to friend's parties, go to work parties, social club parties, church parties... the whole month long getting together just to be together and appreciate each other and share a meal and a hug and Christmas love. The joy of Christmas truly is 'each other'.

And the sadness of Christmas is about family too. The Centre for Suicide Prevention reports that suicides are surprisingly low in the month of December (as opposed to the popular myth, btw). The #1 reason is "the gathering of friends and relatives surround and protect the vulnerable." There are those that are sad however, and at Christmastime especially their sadness is related to family and friends. For some, this Christmas is the first one alone after the death of a spouse or divorce. For some, we are estranged from our children or our relatives, and while we enjoy the friends and family we have, we grieve the absence of others.

And friends, this is why Christmas must be about Jesus. Jesus came to put us together, especially those who are separated from each other by sin and death.

He said, "remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated... having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility... that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God - Eph 2:12-19 While there is some contextual depth to this passage, it's essence simply is this:

Jesus came to heal broken relationships, between God and man, between Jew and Gentile and between each of us who through sin have found ourselves strangers and aliens from God and each other, even our own families. God has in Christ Jesus made us one big family again, healed our divisions and our brokenness.

Last week a friend of ours said to me, "Bobby, I don't know what I would have done without you guys. I was all alone, with nobody. But now, it's like I have a family." Dear friend, yes you do! You are no longer a stranger, estranged from your family by the pain of sin, you have a family who loves you and a Father who sent his Son to adopt you, and to give you family.

My prayer this Christmas is that the church can be a family for those who have none, a home for the homeless, a friend for the friendless. This year God was pleased to allow his people at Crosswind to begin to help the stranded and displaced families in our city. This Christmas 14 people had a place to sleep in peace and friends to share life and love with thanks to many many of you.

Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and his gospel is peace,
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His Holy Name...

From all of us at Crosswind.... Merry Christmas.

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