2011 Resolution for pastors and church leaders: Turn your church inside out for the sake of the kingdom, for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of the mission of Jesus… for the sake of your congregation.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? For me, it was always Australia. Several years ago Stacy and I experienced a dream come true as we found ourselves in Sydney, Cairns, and the Great Barrier Reef. If you were to go “Down Under” this time of the year- to Australia (or New Zealand)- you would truly experience, what we might call, an “upside down Christmas”. You see, in Australia it’s summertime. December through February is the warmest time of the year and Christmas is right in the middle of summer. Santa is coming to town on a surfboard and Rudolph’s red nose is going to need some sunscreen. The only white Christmas they’ll see is the white sand of the beach and watch for koalas instead of elves. It’s cooler in the south and it’s warmer in the north and the currents flow in opposite directions. Don’t throw another log on the fire unless you’re putting it on the “barbie”. What a strange Christmas that would be for those of us who live on the “right” side of the world.
This year Stacy and I want our family to have an upside down Christmas. In fact, I want to challenge you to have an upside down Christmas as well. We’re going to make this Christmas different in many ways. As you know, Christmas is celebrated differently around the world. No doubt, Christians in America are conflicted about all that this season has become. It is no surprise to any of us that here in America it has become a season of over-consumerism and materialism. So much so that those of us who truly want to celebrate the Savior’s birth need to be very intentional in doing so.
This year I’m devoting myself to an upside down Christmas. I want Christmas to look altogether different from what our world has made it out to be. Instead of the rat race of shopping, I’m going to slow down and spend more time in conversation with those I love. Instead of seeing what I might get, I’m going to focus on the joy of giving myself away to others. Instead of racing through the holidays, I’m going to pause and pray and thank God for His Son, my Savior. Instead of looking through the latest catalog of gifts available, I’m going to look through His Word and discover the gift of His love for me. Instead of peering under the tree to see what’s there for me, I’m going to kneel at the manger and gaze into the infant face of my Redeemer. There will be gifts but I’m having an upside down Christmas.
It’s always been that way you know- upside down. The big God became small. Spirit took on flesh. Holiness came to a sinful world. The perfect was clothed in imperfection. The sinless took on sin. The eternal stepped into time. The One who is life died for me. What an upside down Christmas. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” 1 Corinthians 1:27. What an upside Savior. That’s the God we worship. That’s the God of Christmas. Let’s make this one different. Let’s have an upside down Christmas.
Merry Christmas from the Warren family to you and yours.