Dear Brothers and sisters
Advent is here again. The rush is on to make preparations for the season of goodwill. There are presents to buy, rooms to decorate, menus to plan, food to prepare, parties to arrange and friends to invite. The TV is full of ideas to make Christmas more fun than last year.
Last month, The Express and Star carried the news of a licence application for yet another “Gentleman’s Club” in West Bromwich. If the application is successful West Bromwich will have one of highest number of sex show clubs for the size of its population anywhere in Britain. Where there are sex shops there are women who are trapped by guilt and shame by what they do, whether it is by “choice” or as slaves, trafficked from their homeland on the promise of a better life. There are wicked men and women who run the clubs. I bet they wouldn’t want their daughters to work there.
What have sex clubs to do with Christmas? The answer is everything. The world is in a mess. There are the wicked who exploit other human beings for their own gain. And there are those who are trapped in lifestyles they would rather not be in but the guilt and shame they feel is crippling. Jesus did not come into the world so that we can have the biggest party on earth at Christmas whilst we forget about the mess around us. Jesus came into the world to save us from our sin.
This Christmas, let’s make sure we break with the tradition of the world. As well as celebrating the birth of Jesus can we keep focused on why he came? Let’s celebrate the work of Compassion and other mission agencies around the world. But let’s also think about being the church Jesus wants us to be at Christmas in West Bromwich. To make sure Christmas is not self-centred, if you don’t already do this, why not invite someone to your house at some time who you might not normally invite?
Jesus said “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14)
Is there someone you know who fits that bill? Invite them!
And what about the people on the edge of society? If you met someone from a “Gentleman’s Club” could you invite them to a Christmas service where they might hear and believe the good news of Jesus?
Again, Jesus said to the religious people, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21:31)
This Christmas, break with the tradition of the world. Make this season a time of both joyful celebration and generous invitation.
With love and peace