We’re approaching that time of year again. The shops are getting busier; the decorations are going up and the weather is changing, as is the behaviour of some children hoping to redeem themselves before Santa takes to the skies on Christmas Eve!
Our churches are hubs of activity with Christmas Tree Festivals, Nativity plays and Carol services set to take place in the coming weeks. I love the build up to Christmas, I think more than the day itself. When you’re a child, there is that sense of expectancy and excitement, when you’re an adult it’s an opportunity to stop and enjoy food and fellowship with friends and loved ones, yet it also heightens our sense of loss, reminding us of those who are no longer with us to share in the festivities.
A sense of belonging
For me Christmas, more than any other time of the year, invokes a sense of belonging. Belonging to children, to a husband, to parents, to a work team, a group of friends, a church community, to a Father who sent his only son down to this world, ultimately to die for me and give me a life eternal.
Christmas allows me the opportunity to spend time with them and in doing so it reminds me that I belong. Isn’t that what all of us inherently want – to belong? Maybe it is for that reason that we often find more people coming into our churches at Christmas time. Some come at the invitation of loved ones, others come looking for that which is lacking. or just because it is Christmas. Whatever the reason, I look around my church during the month of December and I see strangers searching for belonging, whether they know it or not.
There is a spirit of openness at Christmas time that you don’t get throughout the rest of the year. When else might a local trader from a neighbouring business agree to read a Scripture lesson than for a Nine Lessons and Carols service? When else might a grandparent be open to hearing that God loved them so much that He sent His only son into the world to save them, than at a grandchild’s Nativity play.
Sharing the Good News
In a time when there seems to be less tolerance of the Christian message, Christmas itself still gives us an opportunity to share with others the message that they belong to God and are loved by the One who has given them the greatest gift they could ever receive in Jesus.
Maybe this Christmas time you know of someone in your family, or your workplace, maybe it’s someone on your street, or at the school gate, who you could invite to an event happening in your church and present them with the gift of belonging.
If you’re reading this and you crave that sense of belonging, why not take the step yourself by going to our Find a Church page and finding the contact details for a church near you where you can connect this Christmas time and find a warm welcome.
If you have something going on in your congregation this Christmas that you want to welcome people to, please share your services on our PCI Facebook page or on Twitter, using these hashtags #findbelongingthischristmas #findapcichurch #findjesus #findcommunity #findbelonging and we will endeavour to connect local people to you.
May you know the joy of belonging to God and to His family this Christmas time!
“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3: 16
Lisa Skinner is a senior communications assistant in PCI’s Creative Production Department and contributes regularly to the Presbyterian Herald. Lisa attends Kirkpatrick Memorial Presbyterian Church in Belfast, where she is an elder.