I’m a Free Methodist, but I’m descended on my father’s side from a long line of Reformed Presbyterians whose churches have traditionally avoided celebrating Christmas because the Bible doesn’t mention the early church observing the holiday. My paternal grandparents had a Christmas tree in their home, but their church had no decorated tree, manger scene, Advent candles or Christmas Eve service. When TV and radio commentators warn about a “war on Christmas,” I think about these devout relatives and wonder where they fit in the discussion.
If you think my ancestors were part of a cult, consider a more famous group of Christians — the Pilgrims — who banned Christmas and other holidays. (As I recently heard Pastor Jason Roberts note at Cornerstone Community Church in St. Petersburg, Florida, we ironically honor the no-holiday Pilgrims each year during the Thanksgiving holiday.)
Don’t worry. You don’t have to mail me a copy of Kirk Cameron’s “Saving Christmas” DVD. I take after the Methodist ancestors on my mother’s side who understood Christmas, Easter and other holidays on the church calendar help us connect with different biblical events. I love the Christmas season with both the sacred and the silly trappings.
As we celebrate Jesus arriving on earth as a baby, we should not forget these words of Jesus near the end of His time walking the earth as a man: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).
Both this passage and an appropriate celebration of Christmas include a focus on God with us. We have the good news of Jesus Christ, and we must tell others about Him and then help them grow in their knowledge and faith. In this issue, Pastor Adam Stuck helps us understand the messy reality of Christ being both God and human, and Stuck also reveals the incredible change in a man’s life after the man became a disciple of Immanuel.
How should you go about making disciples? Keep reading as Bishop David Kendall looks directly to Jesus for discipleship tips.
From what age group should we make disciples? I hear people say we should focus on children. Others say we should focus on reaching and mentoring young adults. Some say we should make disciples of older people in the last days of life. My thought: all of the above. Let’s make disciples of all nations and ages.
As Pastor Heather Baker Utley writes, we live in a time of increased segregation by age groups. Utley reveals the Bible’s countercultural vision of generations enriching each other within the common body of Christ. To paraphrase “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” the church should be a place for “kids from 1 to 92” and beyond in each direction.
Jeff Finley is the executive editor of Light + Life. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for Sun-Times Media. He believes Christmas lights should be left up and on throughout the entire winter.
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