Published December 5, 2017

Shelia Shares
"Squandering An Opportunity"

Picture this...

Finally George and Lynette were going to church with us. It was Christmas and they would join the other people who only came into services during the holidays. We had been praying for them since they moved into our neighborhood and trusted something said would reach their hearts for the Lord. After all, it was Christmas and a time to celebrate His birth.

We entered the church and found a seat together about halfway back. We listened to the gentle music playing and watched as other worshipers gathered.

The service started and words appeared on the screen for "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas." We sang along with the praise band and it gave a real feeling of the season.

The opening was taken from "How The Grinch Stole Christmas." It focused on the quote: "Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" The preacher elaborated further on the quote in that Dr. Seuss was directing us to look beyond gifts to family and friends.

Next came the singing which had always been my favorite part. I couldn't wait to hear the traditional Christmas songs about the birth of Christ. I was a bit dismayed when our congregational singing included "Deck the Halls," "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" and "There's no Place Like Home For The Holidays." Where was "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" or "Silent Night?"

The offertory was "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer," which had everyone smiling. Well, almost everyone was smiling.

For the Scripture reading, the pastor used the Christmas story from Luke 2: 1-20. When he finished reading, he talked about Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem. He said that was God's placement. Jesus was born there. He said that was God's timing. The shepherds came to see Him. That was God's way of assuring us there would always be a time and place to worship and praise Him.

After the sermonette, we stood to sing "Joy To The World" and were dismissed.

As we left the church, we asked George and Lynette how they liked the service. They said it was nice and thanked us for inviting them. When we asked if they would come with us again, they declined. They both agreed that they could listen to that nice preacher on TV on Sunday mornings and not need to leave the house. They added that the TV service seemed more like a church and if they wanted to hear music like they heard this morning, they could turn on the local radio station that played Christmas music 24/7.

Unfortunately, they didn't seem drawn to Jesus as we had hoped. They didn't seem impressed with our welcoming inclusiveness. They seemed surprised that they hadn't heard more about Jesus or been asked about their heart.

I thought it was a wasted Christmas Sunday morning.

As you may have guessed, the above is simply an imagined story. But, each year I hear about more churches that are trying to be politically correct. They want to be sure no one is uncomfortable with being among Christians. Christian secular artists are putting out Gospel Christmas albums, while more Gospel artists are putting out albums filled with many secular Christmas songs. (Do you see the irony there?)

Opportunities over the holidays to witness are being lost both at concerts and at churches themselves. The Bible assures us that we will never fit in to an unsaved world, but we are to be light to that world. If we become so much like them anyway, how can we bring them to Jesus?

Every time we have an opportunity to share Jesus, we are responsible to use that opportunity in the best way possible. Jesus came to this earth and we celebrate that birth on Christmas. This Christmas remember Jesus.

- Shelia

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