I’ve read several articles about online worship services. The Gospel Coalition published one by Rob Hill discussing the “new normal” of Sunday services. He makes several attempts to demonstrate that it’s okay if we don’t meet in person on a Sunday morning during this unique time. He reminds us we can still be together, virtually. Hill, like other authors I’ve read, assumes online services are best. But are they?
With the lights dimmed and the table set for a quiet Christmas Eve dinner in-between watching our favorite holiday movies, we set our eyes on the true meaning of Christmas. Above the fun, laughter, entertainment, and gifts is a promise as old as the universe, fulfilled in the birth of a perfect, knowable, and eternal King who is for everyone, everywhere.
In his final instructions to his followers, Jesus is clear; they have a mandate — a ‘great commission’ — over their lives. To be a follower of Jesus, united in His death and resurrection, and the recipient of a restored soul for all eternity, is to be a fully enlisted and endorsed participant in God’s redemptive plan for the world.
I remember a time when I went shopping on Christmas Eve for some last minute gifts (okay, probably all of my gift shopping was done that year on Christmas Eve) and was reminded why that was a bad idea. On the eve of what continues to be communicated and sold as the most joyful time of the year, a time of making happy memories and a season of giving, the not-so-hidden ugly side of the holiday was exposed. This is a season filled with stress and anxiety.
Christmas is about God the Father sending his Son, the promised King, to save us from our sin. It’s an everlasting, immaterial gift that cannot be earned through our good works or deeds, but only received by faith. Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew this fact just as well, that belief brings blessing.
The Christmas season is filled with all sorts of mixed messages. From Black Friday “deals”, to riding in sleighs with bells, Santa Claus coming to town, and images of baby Jesus, it’s no wonder my kids have a hard time remembering what Christmas is all about. And to be honest, sometimes I do too.
In a modern, science-based, data-driven society, everyday supernatural miracles are often difficult to ascertain. Even in our evangelical circles that have a strong emphasis on a ministry of the word (teaching and studying the Bible), we have a tendency to over-intellectualize our reading of scripture and downplay the spiritual activity of God. At Restoration Church, we have sought to recover and acknowledge all that God has done and is actively doing in our world, both through a ministry of his Word, but also through the power of his Spirit.