Has anyone ever asked Jesus what He wants for Christmas? If His first birthday is anything to go by, I’m guessing His answer would surprise us. The ‘first Christmas’ is full of surprises!
Many of us are so familiar with the Christmas story that we overlook how many surprise visitor’s pop up and unusual things happen. If you think about it, the fact that God chose to bring His son into the world in the way He did was completely unexpected. That on a dark night, a weary young couple arrive in a town they don’t know, discover there’s nowhere for them to stay, and end up giving birth to the saviour of the world surrounded by smelly, dirty animals must have surprised many people. It has continued to surprise people for thousands of years since. No one was more surprised than the shepherds on the hill who got the shock of their lives when their dark lonely hilltop was turned into a bright shimmering show of angelic musical wonder. And, I imagine it was also a surprise when a camel-train of wise-men trotted along a bit later with elaborate gifts to a small town, where no one else realised the King of Kings was toddling about.
The first Christmas shifted things. It was the start of the world being turned upside down. A teenage mother chosen by God; a King born into squalor; lowly ignored shepherds visited by angels and given a precious message to share. Why then is it that Christmas has become so routine and samey to us? We know what’s coming. We often celebrate in the same way each year, same traditions, same food, same expectations…
There are three (almost guaranteed) things that come up in conversation when people talk about Christmas: gifts, food and visitors. Everyone wants to know what you want for Christmas, what you’ll be eating and who are you spending your time with. Let’s do things differently this Christmas!
What if your small group took the inevitable Christmas expectations and responded with something unexpected?
1 – What’s your favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Instead of filling your tables with food that might end up going to waste you could collect for your local food bank – this link helps you find your closest local foodbank to donate too. https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/
… or how about donating to Christians Against Poverty who are sending food hampers to people in need this Christmas? https://capuk.org/get-involved/donate?source=Christmas2017
2 – What are you doing for Christmas? Sometimes this season turns into a competition of how many family members you can squeeze into your house. For some, Christmas is the loneliest time of the year, without any visitors. Help The Aged have an incredible project called the ‘befriending service’ – your small group could change someone’s Christmas by visiting those who are alone, or even just calling someone up to have a chat… https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/befriending-services/
3 – What’s on your Christmas list? Think outside the box and buy something that benefits someone else. Oxfam (and many other charities) offer gifts such as chickens for families who need a way of creating an income or clean water for a village – their ideas are brilliant alternatives to regular gifts https://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped
There are so many ways for you and your small group to turn the expectations of Christmas upside down, but I hope these three are a great start to surprising some people around you this year.
About Emily Owen
Emily dreams of travelling the world and writing about the great things she sees God doing along the way. Whilst waiting for dreams to come true, she happily works for CWR, plays a lot of netball and is trying to learn Spanish.