The other day on Facebook I put the following post. It concerned a nativity scene in a prominent position in my local shopping centre. "Well done Macquarie Centre! Sure you're commercial but still space to remind one of the true meaning of Christmas. You should be encouraged. Some will see it as tokenism, I prefer to see such acts as God opportunities. Love Christmas!"
The post got a lot of "likes" with many of people commenting about the fact that they are also seeing nativity scenes in their centres. Also I heard of one shopping plazas playing more carols this year, and displaying more Christmas symbols as a result of complaints from shop tenants that in the previous year the Christmas spirit was missing.
Are we winning?
Is the spirit of Christ in our neighbourhoods this year? I don't know, I sense we may be making up some ground, but ultimately all this means very little if we don't take time to share with friends, family and our neighbours the true meaning of Christmas.
I believe such happenings in shopping centres are God given opportunities to share his love, grace and forgiveness. And don't we need such sacred moments in Australia today.
Last year I shared from J.W. Searle's helpful devotional commentary on John 3:16 "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". He says of this Gospel truth:
the source of the gospel – God;
the nature of it – love;
the object of it – the world;
the gracious manifestation of it – He gave;
the purpose of it – suggested by the words "in order that";
the scope of it – whosoever; and
the simplicity of it – believeth.
On Thursday, 23 November I attended and chaired the book launch of "Eternity". A marvellous book, published by the Bible society, on the life of Arthur Stace. I was privileged to write the Foreword to the book.
Arthur is the man who wrote Eternity on the streets of Sydney. Elizabeth Meyers is a co-author and good friend. She knows more about Arthur than anyone. Her father, Lisle Thompson was the minister of Burton Baptist Church, Arthur's home church. I grew up spiritually at Burton Street.
Christmas is a message of extraordinary hope. In all the commercialism, parties and gifts we must ensure the central message is that Jesus came as a baby to transform our world through his death and resurrection and to make us his child forever. Eternity!
Now when I see a nativity scene somewhere, I want to share with those passing by, perhaps stopping for a glimpse, the real and life changing message of Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone.