Abi is part of the Grace Church Wakefield family. She wrote earlier in the year about her experience of becoming a mother during a global pandemic - it’s not been an easy road but she and her family are doing well and wish you a very happy Christmas!
Abi writes here about some of the reasons you may be receiving invitations to Grace Church’s Christmas Activities, either in-person or online.
Have you noticed a flurry of activity from any Christian friends in the past few weeks in the run up to Christmas?
At Grace Church things have been different to our usual Christmas season and busy in a new way. Since the introduction of new regulations allowing for an outdoor carol service, you may have received one of our Christmas Card invitations or heard about our carol service from your friends.
I’ve always wondered what these invitations seem like from the outside and the more I think about it the more I realise how odd it may appear at times.
I want to explain a little what I (and I’d suggest the vast majority of Christians!) do and do not want to do when we invite you to a church service or event…
I don’t want to change you to become a copy of me. As a Christian I believe that each and every human being was created uniquely and that our relationships with God will reflect this incredible, vital diversity. By inviting you to an event I don’t want to make you hear things through my ears; the last thing I’d want was to create clones of myself because I know me, and no-one wants that!
Instead I want to share with you the good news that I believe is beautiful, important, and true so that you too can engage (or choose not to) with this news, having had the opportunity to examine it for yourself.
I don’t want to make you a ‘better' person. Christians may sometimes appear pious and ‘holier-than-thou’ and for this I am incredibly sorry because that is the opposite of what the Bible tells us we should be. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That includes every single one of the people speaking at, setting up, and inviting you to the carol service this year. I am pretty sure they’re all aware of that.
The beauty of Christianity is that awareness of fallen-ness is not the end of the story because God transforms and renews all things. He is at work in our lives today and, one day, everything will be renewed and perfected but until then Jesus accepts you as you are, he sees you, loves you, died for the you that you are now and I should be following in his example.
I don’t want to limit your freedom. Church often seems full of rules, rules that are outdated or restrictive but this isn’t true Christianity. Jesus was a rule breaker on earth. He set the record straight on old traditions that had become twisted and restrictive rather than life-giving and beneficial (take a look at what he says about the Sabbath laws in Mark 2: 23-28). Jesus said he came to bring life, and life in all its fullness (John 10 v 10).
Don’t get me wrong, the Bible doesn’t suggest that anarchy is true freedom. The freedom that Jesus brings is the freedom of the Creator, the freedom to be who we were created to be and live the way we were designed to. It may seem that a lot of Christians aren’t living very freely; that’s probably because we’re not. It’s a hard concept to get our heads around when we’re so used to living by self-imposed restriction but please be patient we’re learning more each day.
I DO want to share this with you. I want you to know that I value you enough to want to share what I believe to be true and transformational. Yes, I want to help you understand what I believe a little better but I also want to open up a conversation, to get a chance to hear what you believe too.
So if you get invited to a Christmas Carol Service, or a church event in the year ahead, please go along. At the least you will get to understand what your Christian friends believe and at the best you might just start on a road of seeking and finding out some amazing truths for yourself.
Abi Lovell - GCW Partner