Going Deeper 12/27/18

The second reading for Christmas 1...
Colossians 3:12-17   As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

There you have it!  This is really all we need to know about the 'gift' we are to present to God in grateful response to the Christmas gift we have all received from our Abba/Father, the gift of truly amazing grace, the gift of God’s Son, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, a gift which one day would be unwrapped and placed not under a tree, but on a tree.  The gift which has made us "God's chosen ones, holy and beloved."

The great, great challenge comes in considering the process.  It sure sounds good to speak of a grateful response, but there is more to it.  Let's be honest... the level of gratitude experienced by most Christians in this part of the world is not translating into the kind of response and qualities described above.  More and more people are participating less and less in their churches.  Who and what is to blame?

Well, we could blame the business and distractions offered by our culture.  Growing in our relationship with God takes time and energy... just like other important things in life.  And people are busier and more distracted than ever before.  There just isn't enough time for church.

Or perhaps the church needs to look in the mirror and see that what we are doing simply is not getting the job done.  Perhaps people are not participating at least in part because what the church offers isn't really inspiring and empowering the processes of TRANSFORMATION which lead to the kind of qualities expressed in our text... compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  

Truth be told, I do see these qualities in the members of our Zion church family... at least among those who continue to participate.  In many ways, 2018 was a wonderful year at Zion!  But as we wrap up this year and look forward to 2019, we do need to assess why quite a few of our members are participating less-- and some we have not seen at all-- even at Christmas.  Inspiring and facilitating individual and collective transformation is at the very heart of our mission and ministry, and I welcome all input and ideas as to how we might do what we do more effectively.

I am sorry this wasn't very 'devotional'... just sharing what's been on my heart.

With You in His Family,
Mark

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