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home : religion : inspirational reflections July 20, 2018

12/6/2017 1:16:00 PM
"On The First Day Of Christmas...."

Dr. Stanley Spence, Pastor
First Baptist Church, Lincolnton, N.C.

When does Christmas begin? That question is answered in many ways. For the retailers it begins with sales even before Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Cyber Monday. For charities it begins early also. For churches, it would appear to start when planning begins for all the services; and of course classes start booking party rooms for their gatherings. For party hostesses it begins with the guest lists and invitations. But when does Christmas begin?

This question has a simple answer; but before we get to it,  there is another matter to consider. A case can be made for the same question in another manner of thinking. When does ministry begin? When you show some charity through giving, is that the moment ministry begins? Or maybe it begins when items are bought with charitable monies for relief of suffering, loneliness and isolation. Maybe ministry begins when we have the thought in our minds to do some good whether we follow through or not.

In the Christian context of ministry, we are called to be faithful no matter the outcome because that is what we do. But ministry seems most likely to begin when someone actually receives the gift. I refer to the clothes collected for the victims of hurricanes. When clothes were collected and delivered to parking lots and left for those who wanted them, much of those resources were never received by anyone and sat in a parking lot rotting only to add to the odors of destroyed property. The lesson here is ministry is only completed when the recipients actually receive the acts of generosity and love. Faithfulness is our calling, receiving is vital to this idea of ministry.

The act of receiving is when ministry can be considered a complete act. Ministry is a noun describing a process to be sure. The act of giving cannot be completed until there is a recipient receiving on the other end. Therefore, we are ministering, to one another.

So back to the question, when does Christmas begin? It begins when we are ready to receive it. Are we ready to receive the gift of God through His Son, Jesus? Are we ready to receive the love God has for us? I would say the true spirit of Christmas is something you receive from God, not from a store. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and I especially hope you receive the greatest gift of all, God’s love through His Son, Jesus.

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