“CHRISTMAS TIME’S INCONVENIENCE”

CHRISTMAS TIME’S INCONVENIENCE

( a POST offered to the men of the Gulf Coast Synod and their friends…)
 
TO ALL THE KING’S MEN…

Guys, our place in God’s kingdom is powerful…let’s pray with the Blind Boys from Alabama…”Lord, help me find my proper place…”  Men, our work in Christ’s Church is urgent, important and necessary…let us pray with Peter Mayer… “Lord, stir up the water in  our souls… let the light come in the darkness… come and make us whole…”  Men our witness is daily…let us pray with Jesus…”Father, your kingdom come; your will be done…”  The world needs our prayers; needs our work.  We need to pray for each other… our work is better done together…

"No guy in my church dresses like this..."

We are coming to the days of Christmas.  It can go a lot of ways for us.  Our culture has taken the core meaning of Christmas and marketed away its soul.  Long lines.  Bargains galore.  Fist fights in the mall parking lot over a rectangle of concrete.  Overextended credit card purchases wear on our shoulders weeks and months into the coming year.  Way too much eating and drinking.  Our senses and our feet are numb and the silence, awe and wonder of the celebration of Jesus’ birth comes to us as an intrusion to our personal merry-making.  We’ve lost touch with the voices of the angels, the mystery of God-in-the-flesh and this year…Pampers is selling diapers to the words of “Silent Night.”  How will Christmas go for you?  Perhaps a good question to ask first, though, is this:

 Why Men’s Ministry?

The data is startling. Only one out of every 18 men in our culture is churched. Imagine that 18 men went out to the local sandlot to play America’s favorite past-time and only 1 of the 18 men actually knew how the game of baseball is played. Only 1 knows the order of the base path. Only 1 knows what the glove, ball, bat and helmet are for. Only 1 man knows how to keep score and how long.

 What do we see? Bedlam?  Chaos? Mayhem?  Of course.  Misunderstanding of purpose. Men running the wrong direction; some sitting in the bleachers. Men wearing gloves on their heads and others chasing each other with bats and throwing balls at one another. Eighteen men. Only one man knows how the game is played. No coach. It’s no wonder that so many find church a difficult place to be.

 For every 10 men…

  • 9 will have children leave the church;
  •  8 will not have a satisfying job;
  •  6 will make minimum payment on credit cards;
  •  5 will have major pornography issues;
  •  4 will divorce impacting 1 million children

Staggering?  Some are surprised; others not.  Is this the last word?  Certainly not… espeically for men like us…KING’S men…

    K now Christ;

    I  nvite others to “come and see;”

    N urture the relationships we have as Jesus’ friends;

    G row your faith via worship, study and prayer;

    ‘  …remember always to whom you belong…

     S erve Christ’s Church in the world generously via your time and treasure 

Some would advocate that in order to get the world right, we need to get the church right; and in order to get the church right, we need to get families right; and in order to get the families right we need to get marriages right; and in order to get marriages right we need to get the men right…and Jesus is the one who gets it right for us…so, men’s ministry IS Godly work!  That’s also why we can say…”one man at a time; no man left behind!”

So, how will it go for you this Christmas?  Will Christmas be an intrusion?  Is this time of year an inconvenience to our already busy lives?  Is Christmas an intrusion that just ups the ante on our already stressed out days and fractured and fragile relationships?  Is Christmas the time we cringe when we get a sugary sweet greeting when deep down inside ourselves we know that we have played house, played games,  faked our way through another day and used the ancient masks to hide behind so others will not know those things deep inside our hearts that scare us to death and prod us to do and say things that only lead to a lifetime of regret?

Well, be of good cheer.  Christmas IS an inconvenience!  Christmas IS an intrusion! Jesus IS God’s surpise insurgent of love and grace into our lives…described by St. Paul as a “stumbling block!”  Not just can be…IS… Why?  Everyone will bump into Jesus eventually and have to decide what to do…  and it’s always been that way…

Check out the players as first recorded in the Gospels… How was Christmas for them?  Here’s a list of the men in the Christmas story and in each case the entry of Jesus into the world pushed them out of their own comfort place requiring them to act differently than they thought they would on that particular morning…

  • JOSEPH –  had a plan.  He had set up house and was living with Mary, his betrothed.  Then he finds out about a baby that is on the way and  he knows like Maury Povich says, “Joseph, you are NOT the father!” and has to have God’s angel come to convince him to not dismiss his bride to be.  And if that isn’t enough, the local city leaders send the message that he has to take his family from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be enrolled in the Roman census.  Road trip!  No Amtark.  Nice.
  • The Inn Keeper — now here’s a guy who finishes Holiday Inn Express Manager’s training and is given the job of being the new innkeeper in Bethlehem.  That’s like the boss telling you, “we’re world wide” and when you hear you are going to be “around Houston” you find out that you are the new manager at Holiday Inn in Danbury.  I think he was spoofin’ Joseph when he said, “I have no more room.”  His place was normally empty, but with the enrollment this new found opportunity to make a buck was just the ticket… actually, he was content to have a full house and now could relax… and saying ‘there was no room in the inn’ was an announcement of success!  Though Joseph is disheartened; he pressed.  The innkeeper gives in.  Two little inconvenienced men.  Really nice.  But, look around…God winked and Mary smiled.
  • Herod — the King of Judea…just got back from his winter palace at Masada at the Dead Sea and is busy packing to head to his summer home at Herodian, half way between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  Life is good when you are the king… until 3 visitors come and ask the big question…”where is the king?”  Huh? Herod was the king.  Now Jesus’ entry on to the scene causes a certain paranoia prompting him eventually to send soldiers to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem under the age of 3.  Now there’s a thorough and sick guy.  Herod the Great… my eye…
  • The Magi –aka ‘the wise men.’  They were.  They took flight and followed a star.  Try ‘splaining that to the young boys along the road.  They irked Herod and yet found time to bring gifts to the real King the angel comes to them and says, “you better go home a different way” …inconvenience all the way around but most likely saved their lives…
  • The Shepherds —now here’s a group of guys where inconvenience is a pleasure trip… shepherds were equal in status to ‘garbage collectors’ in our day.  Junior high drop outs at best being paid little for a job no one really wants to do.  But, hey, sheep are important… somebody’s got to watch them—garbage piles stink…but, someone has to pick up the trash… so, these guys get the night off…and not just one angel…but a choir of angels tell them that God is up to something BIG…and despite a change of venue… they dare not miss it!  They didn’t!  When was the last time you sang a song in church about a garbage collector?
  • The Soldiers— we cannot not say anything about the soldiers… the ones called to protect the king and his family.  Protecting them from tyrants, treasonists and conspirators maybe…but not babies…not infants… how sad and inconvenienced the soldiers must have felt when they got orders to kill ALL the baby boys in Bethlehem and…when they got to Bethlehem…the babies’ fathers?  What of them?  What did the fathers of the little boys do…what could they do???…

So, men, welcome to Christmas time… KING’S men… enter these holi-days with courage and hope…your life may not be exactly like theirs but we are no different than the men in the first Christmas story… including this one reality… the inconvenient words God speaks to his son, Jesus….”it’s time; now is the time…” and  peace, freedom and grace come to town… the love of the parent… inconvenient but necessary… Love is that way… St. John said it this way… “For God so LOVED the world that he gave…”  And so this moment and time when Christmas’s inconvenince is thrust upon us…it it the very thing we celebrate…as this story makes all the difference in how all the other stories of our lives unfold…

 This is God’s work; our hands. Holy days…  A joyful Christmas time to you all…may you see your inconvenience as gift and as the very ministry to others the world so desperately seeks…

 One man at a time; no man left behind,

 Brian

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About briangigee

Loves life; lives love! Bud and Doris' eldest son. Descendant of 'refiners' and 'reformers.' Husband to Margo. Father of 5. Grandfather to 2. Brother, uncle, friend and colleague. Working parish pastor. Became a naturalized Texan in February 2013.
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