Joy, Pain and Christmas

The season of Christmas has such interesting dynamics to it.  On the one hand, it is really fun.  I mean who doesn’t love seeing their kids dressed like sheep and angels?  It can be fun to have time to catch up with family or friends. My daughter was giving me the details on how many sleeps it is until Christmas and the order of events.  To say she is excited about this Christmas is an understatement.  But in all of my preparation this week for two services,  and time with my family I have been thinking about the amount of suffering that people are going through.  Does that seem strange?  Well, keep in mind I am a Pastor of a church and an EMT in the local community.  I have seen some suffering.  I know we sing songs about how wonderful this time of year is and declare “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come.”  But what about those who are not experiencing so much joy

Christ is the hope of Christmas.

this year?  You can’t just sing it and make the pain go away.  Some people have experienced more loss this year than at any point in their life.  Suicide.  Depression.  Alcoholism.  Abuse of all kinds.  Stress.  Anger. Anxiety. Financial Challenges. Illness. I mean, can we just be honest and say that for some people this season does not make pain get better, it just amplifies the issues.

So what difference does this baby make for those who are hurting this Christmas?  Micah 5:5 says that this ruler who was to come out of Bethlehem would be our peace.  Peace is something we talk about and strive for, but can’t seem to achieve.  But if Jesus is our peace, maybe we can experience it.  Maybe this one we celebrate can actually enter into my mess and help me.   And of course the answer is emphatically “yes!”  You are why He came!  You are why He left the comforts of His heavenly home and entered our world in an insignificant town surrounded by insignificant people on some insignificant day in a very insignificant way.  In doing so, however, He did provide for us something we were so desperate for: hope.  Hope says that while right now things are a mess; one day things will no longer be that way.  Why?  Because Jesus has come and is coming again.

Do you have some questions?  Yes.  Do you have some things you are hoping to see resolved?  Yes.  But there is comfort in knowing God was not content just telling us how to live; He needed to send His son to demonstrate His love for us.

So if you are in a good place right now and you know someone who isn’t, it could be a real good idea to encourage them in some way.  In fact, I think it is exactly what Christ demonstrates for us in His birth.  He showed up in our mess in order to save us from it.  I  have showed up many times just to visit with someone who was really having a tough time.  Those kinds of things mean the world to people.   It reminds them that God has not forgotten them — the very heart of the Christmas story.

Oh, and get to it because there are only 3 more sleeps until Christmas.


Want to hear more about what Jesus Christ has offered to us?   Check out my Christmas Sermon Series on our Church Website.

My School Bus Youth Ministry – The Unexpected

IMG_2086Most days of our life follow a fairly predictable pattern.  I know that doesn’t mean that every day is the same.  I get that.  I work with teenagers and have children of my own.  Within the realm that we work in is somewhat of a predictable day.  One afternoon I arrived at the elementary school with my school bus to a normal scene.  As I sat there,  a car approached and stopped.  This car was  being chased by a police car.  Well, that is interesting.  The car came into the school parking lot and stopped.  The police got out and drew their weapons.  I had a front row seat to my very own episode of “Cops.”  I suddenly realized that in just a few minutes they were going to let the school kids out of the school.  There was a potentially dangerous situation in the making.  We quickly alerted the school and they kept the kids until the situation was resolved. There are often no well-defined processes for what you should do in situations like that.  You need to be ready to act in the unexpected.

Youth ministry is no different.  I have had those phone calls when someone in the community has committed suicide or someone’s family is having serious problems.  The question that I ask God is: “What is my response to this?”  Ministry doesn’t always happen in the predictable   Sometimes the most meaningful ministry you can have is in those unexpected moments.  It is when God speaks through you  words of hope to someone who needs it and is often ready to listen.


This is part of The Sunday Series “My School Bus Youth Ministry.”  If you missed others, check out The Sunday Series tab above.