Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Great Commission

The Great Commission
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16
This is the essence of evangelism. I saw on television advertisements already about Christmas. Christmas is the time chosen to remember the birth of Christ. If a person were not a Christian and didn’t know about Christ December would be a good time to read one of the gospel stories that depicted the life of Jesus. The Bible, sometimes called the Holy Bible, is the main text of the Christian and Catholic peoples. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John wrote the story of Jesus in the first hundred years about after his death. Usually I read at least one of the gospels each Christmas to remind me of why Canada and the United States and most of Europe and much of the other parts of the world have a holiday at this time. Thousands of years ago Pagans celebrated the mid winter season so it wasn’t always just a Christmas celebration. Probably back then businessmen saw it as a good time to hawk their wares too. Probably they didn’t sell Jesus dolls and imitation Mother Mary’s but no doubt they’d have simiiliar merchandise for whatever God was de rigeur that day. Christians however are encouraged not to party with drugs and alcohol and orgies as some have used the holiday season but rather consider it a time for reflection. I usually get out my Anne Murray Christmas Carole album. Sarah McLaughlins was a joy to listen to last year and I hope I find that as well. Many of the greatest writers of all time have written their most meaningful and touching songs at this time. I still love John Lennon’s “So this is Christmas” and wish he had lived so we might have heard the wisdom only age can bring to artists of all kinds. What message would Janice Joplin be carrying today. I really doubt that they’d be singing of drugs given how many of their friends died from overdose. Christmas is not a time of war. I loved learning that all over Europe Germans and Allied forces put down their weapons, crossed no man’s land, exchanged gifts and kind wishes. If only the leadership of the nations could be so peaceful. So many soldiers would rather be home with their family. So with December it’s a time for me also to make sure I get to church if only to be gathering with others and hearing the stories. It’s the one time of the year I really do like the children’s pageants. Maybe because I fondly remember the plays I was in as a child, even the one I interrupted to wave at my parents and say “Hi Mom. Hi Dad”. My older brother who was in the play had to hush me and point me at the director. Amazing all the volunteerism that happens in churches all over the world. I’m sure the Christian children’s choirmaster who had me and my friends in his choir was sainted in heaven. His patience and kindness were as memorable as the youth leaders who tried to guide us through adolescence with kindness and open doors. So if you haven’t read the Bible or a Gospel or been to a Christian church December is a really good time to check it out. Christians are really welcoming at this time of the year. Christmas day is usually packed at church because of all the “C&E” Christians . They’re the folk who only go to church on Christmas and Easter. Kind of like hockey fans who only buy tickets for the play offs. The rest of us like it as much when they’re not in the church because they’re a pretty boisterous lot. Guests are always welcome and you don’t really need an invitation ever but December is a great time to go. Just walk into a church and you’ll be greeted and directed to a seat. People will say hello but you don’t have to do anything but listen. There are cheat sheets in most churches. These are notes that are given out to tell you what everyone is doing. No one is paying attention to you. It’s like a play and the people in the church are focused on the altar (that’s the church word for stage) and what’s going on up there. The minister or priest is leading the ceremony and everyone in the church is an audience of sorts. The audience may be asked to join in like they would be at a Blue Man Concert but no one has to and Christians and non Christians decline. People are shy. Most of the people other than the minister are ‘amateurs’. They’re volunteers. This is what they do for others. They join the choir, arrange flowers, ensure that the “set” is ready each Sunday. Some print up the program. At my church over half the congregation (people who belong to the church) take part in the services sometime in the year as volunteers. I was a reader for a number of years while my friend Colin was a greeter. There’s lots of little things that need to be done and when you volunteer in a church you become more a part of. Just like the actors in the play are more apart of the theatre. It’s a way of having a richer Christian experience. It’s a way of being closer with other Christians and having some more time with the clergy (priests, ministers and deacons and otherwise the ‘staff’ or full time leadership of the church, usually elected by the body of the church from a pool of church school (theological university) graduates).
Anyway Dec. 25 is the day we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ. We believe Jesus was God become Man who experienced the suffering of this world, was crucified, died on the cross, rose again and lives with the Father Creator and the Holy Spirit in heaven. He is our friend and advocate. He is the helpful intermediary with the vastness of the mysterious God. The gospels tell his story. His message was Love God, Love your Neighbour as Yourself and Do Not Be Afraid.
Hope to see you in church sometime, whenever, wherever. Christ be with you. Good day. God’s day. Today.

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