Oh, I love this time of year! I love the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting. When I watched it a couple of years ago, you know, it was as always, heartwarming to watch those lights come on in the middle of the city where I spent so much ministry time.
And actually there was some good news coming from that big Christmas tree. Oh, we had the obligatory “bubble gum” songs about Santa and snow and toys. But I was impressed with the fact that Jesus was there, too. That particular year there were some beautiful presentations of “Silent Night” and “Away in a Manger” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” There actually were a few relatively holy moments in the middle of all that New York glitz.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Christmas Surprises Under the Rockefeller Center Tree.”
It was a reminder to me of how special this season really is. This Savior of ours who is largely ignored and marginalized the rest of the year is suddenly and inescapably on the radar come December. Oh sure, there’s a glut of commercialism. But I’ll tell you this, there’s more Christ than at any other time of the year.
And that provides for all of us Jesus-lovers an unparalleled opportunity to move people we love to Jesus. To help them be in heaven with us some day. If any season comes under the Biblical heading of “making the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16) the Christmas season does.
It’s a good time to remember what God was saying when His angel told Joseph to “give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18). Jesus means “God rescues.” Christmas means that God has come from heaven as the Rescuer from the hell and the bondage of our sin. And there’s no better time than Christmas to join Jesus in His rescue mission. We can pray for opportunities, we can look for opportunities, and we can plan for opportunities to introduce Him to hearts that are opened by the Christmas season.
Our word for today from the Word of God is in John 9:4. It tells us that, “We must work while it is day, for the night is coming.” That means making a promise to God that we will be intentional about bringing Jesus into the lives of our lost friends and our neighbors and our loved ones. I said intentional during this time when it is still day, and the light is on and on Jesus more than ever. We can be intentional about this by praying for them by name every day during this season, by asking God to open up natural opportunities for us to talk about our relationship with Jesus. It will be easier this time of year than any other.The problem is that we are so robotically busy from now until Christmas that this season of rescue comes and goes without us even trying to rescue anybody! I can already feel it myself. You get carried away by the inertia of just doing Christmas, American style. The rescuing will not happen if we don’t make it a non-negotiable of our plans, let’s say these next three weeks ahead.
I have that three-open prayer that I’ve talked about before, “Lord, open a door.” Which means give me that natural opportunity to bring up my relationship with You. Then, “Lord, open their heart.” Get them ready. And then, “Lord, open my mouth.” Give me the words and the courage and the approach to use. How about planning to take them to dinner and then to a special Christmas event where the Gospel will be presented, or take them to the event and then have them over for dessert so you can talk about it.
Then include your own personal Hope Story with your Christmas card. I know some friends who do that, and they put it in an attractive form and they include the hope story of how this Jesus, who’s birthday it is, changed their life forever and took it from B.C. (before Christ) to A.D. (after Christ). There’s all kinds of ways God will answer your prayer for opportunities. Just start praying for them and keeping your eyes open for them.
‘Tis the season! After all, this is His birthday. And there is no gift He wants more than the heart of someone He died for. Someone you know who doesn’t know your Jesus. And there’s just no better time.