I love Christmas time. For a lot of reasons. I love the spirit of joy that seems to be in the air this time of year. I love the sound of the Salvation Army bells outside the stores. I love the wonder in my kids’ eyes at the enormity of inflatable yard decorations and the twinkle of lights on houses. I love giving (and perhaps getting) gifts from those I love. I love Christmas songs. I love Christmas cookies. I love time away with my family. And, truth be told, I love watching Hallmark Christmas movies with Alyson. If we didn’t live in Texas, I’d say I love the snow too. Bryan Adams was right:
There's something about Christmas time
Something about Christmas time
That makes you wish it was Christmas everyday
But, alas, it cannot be Christmas everyday. Even Hallmark takes a break for half a year. Although I love Christmas time for all these reasons, they only last for the season of Christmas.
But - this is probably no surprise to you - none of these are the main reason I love Christmas time. I love Christmas time because Christmas time is the season of Advent. “Advent” simply means “arrival.” Christmas time marks the arrival of Christ into the world. It’s the time of year we spend four weeks dwelling and meditating on the real wonder, the real “something” about Christmas time: the incarnation - when the Son of God became a man.
The “something” about Christmas is the incredible humility of Jesus. And there’s more to that “something” than Jesus’s birth. It’s one thing for God’s Son to become a baby. It’s another thing for him to die. Jesus exercised humility in his birth, throughout his life, and ultimately in his death to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). We could even say that Jesus’s sacrifice began at Christmas, and was completed at Easter.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8 ESV)
Each Sunday during Advent we will celebrate the real “something” about Christmas time together. On Sunday mornings we will walk through the narrative of Jesus’s birth & early years in Matthew 1 and 2. I encourage you to read our church’s Advent devotions, which will further your worship of Christ this season. Our Advent celebration will culminate with a special Candlelight service on Sunday, December 22 at 5:00 p.m. This is a perfect opportunity to invite extended family, co-workers, and neighbors to join you at church and to show them why there’s “something” about Christmas time.
- Pastor Jonathan
What does serving have to do with leadership?
When most people think of “leadership” they tend to think of being in charge. That’s how it works in the corporate world. The manager, the boss, the CEO, the president of the company are the bigwigs who get to make decisions and tell others what to do.
In the business world it makes sense that someone -- or even a team of people -- needs to be in charge of making decisions, especially tough ones. But when it comes to the Kingdom of God and the church, Jesus’s words prove leadership is quite different.
In Mark 10 James and John asked Jesus to give them leadership positions. They asked to sit in the places of honor on either side of Jesus. Jesus explained that the Gentiles make such requests to “lord it over” the people. “But it shall not be so among you,” He said. Rather, whoever is great in the Kingdom must be a servant of all.
What an upside down view of leadership! Yet the grounds for such a shocking statement is Jesus’s own way of leading -- through serving. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
That is what leadership looks like in the church -- serving.
In his letter to the Philippians Paul distinguished two groups of people from the rest of the saints: “overseers and deacons” (Phil. 1:1). According to 1 Timothy 3, both sets of men are leaders in the congregation who exude godly character. An overseer, or “pastor,” leads primarily through teaching (v. 2). A deacon leads primarily through serving (v. 13). The word “deacon” means “servant” -- literally, “one who gets things done.”
On June 23rd we will ordain a new deacon. He is a man of godly character, and he is already actively serving in the church. He will be ordained during the worship service that Sunday morning. Setting apart and affirming a man to take on the role of a deacon is a church-wide decision; therefore we want the whole church involved.
You may be asking why we would draw so much attention to someone who is meant to “get things done” in the background. Here’s my reasoning -- you need, and should want, to know who the deacons are.
The New Testament says a deacon should be in “good standing.” Folks should know them, and their character. They should be seen as examples of what it looks like to serve. A deacon is a servant who leads; a servant leader. The way in which they “get things done” puts flesh and blood on Jesus’s words: “the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve”, therefore leaders must be servants & slaves to all.
So, what does serving have to do with leadership? Everything.
God has blessed us with a number of godly servant leaders; servants who lead. They are not privileged in the sense of gaining much for their work. But they are honored for serving well. Look to your deacons -- they show us how to “get things done” in a way that glorifies God.
- Pastor Jonathan