Jesus and Presents

Posted on Posted in General
What a night! Our first HopeStreet Christmas! 12/23/14
    How freeing is it to feel safe to say I don’t understand? I believe that it’s in these moments as we are seeking God and come to a place where we admit our lack of understanding, that God shows up, and reveals himself In a new way. It is in that moment where we don’t have to pretend to know everything or anything, simply come and say with all honesty: I don’t understand. It is here where our hearts are opened and ready to listen, seek and find the answer
Tuesday night, I sat with my #hopestreet crew: myself, Ruth and a group of amazing youth, and we read the Christmas story together. 
   The pages turned as each person was racing to find out where the Christmas story was in the Bible. Questions like is it in the New or Old Testament? Is it Matthew? Is it Isaiah? I did my best to remain silent as they searched, until it was found, and then each person made there way to Luke chapter 2. We read together about the humble beginnings of Jesus, the son of God. As one person read the story out loud, I prefaced it with “make sure you read it as if it is the best story ever told,” and it was. 
    The beginnings of the best story, the best thing to ever happen in human history. Jesus, God’s son became a man, dwelt among us, lived life with us, died in our place, and rose from the dead…defeating the curse that was placed on each of us…death = eternal separation from God.
    I posed the question, so why is Christmas so important? After searching for answers, (I reassured them that not being sure was okay) many were honest and said I really don’t understand.
     I don’t know if they felt it, but God was so present in that moment, all side conversations ceased and everyone was attentive. I began to share God’s heart. We revisited his promise that God would send someone that would finally bridge the gap that keeps us from having a relationship with God, that because of our sin we were separated from him and needed a way to get to God and that was Jesus. (Genesis, Isaiah)
Still many didn’t understand.
 
    To explain how sin separates us from God, I said: imagine a mansion, so beautiful, clean, etc. now you are covered in mud, from head to toe, do you think they would let you walk through their house? Some said maybe…I said what if they were snobby? Oh no way they said. I made sure to say that Gods not snobby, but we needed something that could wash away the mud so we could go into Gods house and be with God.
    God impressed an example on my heart, to explain the love Jesus showed by dying for us: Imagine this, what if you had committed a horrible crime and you were guilty and sentenced to death. But, your best friend said, “I got this kid.” And he took the punishment for you, out of his love for you and his desire for you to live, he took your place. (Even though he had never committed a crime, but his love for you was that much that he was willing to die for a crime that you committed.) 
    What kind of love is that?  Wow! I get goosebumps just thinking about it, who loves like that? Confused faces turned into aha moments…God was moving.
Other questions arose like, so I used to go to church, Sunday school and Bible study, but when my grandma left I stopped, what does God think of that?
    At that moment I could just feel Gods love pouring out. God doesn’t ask us to do more for him, he just wants us.
   I just began to share Gods heart for each of us, all he says is COME. If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead we will be saved. That’s it, believe, and God’s spirit will come live inside of you. All he asks is that you seek him, spend time with him, get to know him, and He will work in and through you. 
God is not in the business of counting how many times your pray or go to church, it’s a heart thing, just “come and spend time with me, let’s live life together,” is all he asks.
I love grace, Gods wonderful gift that we don’t deserve.
     This stirred some more questions about how can God save someone who was a terrible person all their life, and at the end of their life they believe on Jesus and are saved. How can that happen? I shared how God sees sin as sin, there is no weight on any particular sin, it’s all sin.  Though we may not understand Gods grace fully,  this gift is for everyone who believes no matter who they are.
I think that’s one point many still were quite unsure about, but they were beginning to understand Gods love and his grace. 
    At that point I offered anyone a chance to pray a prayer accepting Jesus’ sacrifice and allowing him to be Lord of their life. We prayed in unison, together because I didn’t want anyone being distracted by another, and I wanted each person to have that moment together with God, no distractions. I don’t know who God’s spirit came to dwell in tonight, but I do trust that there were some who asked for the first time! Thank you Jesus.
I asked the same question again: why is Christmas important. Many said Jesus, but one statement topped it off: “Jesus, (insert pause) and presents!
Thank you Jesus for coming and being Immanuel, God with us. Thank you for your love that drove you to the cross that we might be in relationship with God. Thank you!