You Can’t Cancel Christmas
It’s Christmas Eve. Churches all over my city are planning Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Christmas Night services. Our church – Journey Church North Little Rock – holds an 11:30pm Christmas Eve service. It’s extra special being in the sanctuary, with believers, as the clock strikes midnight, and it’s Jesus’ birthday!
On the other side of the world, in Natoo village in southern Laos, things are different. It was reported yesterday that officials in that village warned the church of almost 50 Christians that they would evict the entire church if they refused to give up their faith.
This comes less than a week after officials in a nearby village (Boukham) arrested eight church leaders for organizing a Christmas event for 200 Christians, even though they had received a permit to do so. Seven of these leaders were put in wooden stocks; two have since been released.
North of there, in Beijing, China, the Shouwang Church is preparing for their last outdoor worship service. Since April, they have been denied access to the building they purchased for $4 million and they have met regularly outdoors. The believers are praying and fasting that they may be allowed entrance to their building or be provided an alternate location.
In Nigeria, more Christians persecuted and martyred in the north. Muslim assailants “brandishing firearms and machetes” attacked Christians in the Ungwan Rami village of the Kaura Local Government Area. Five Christians were killed and six more wounded. I have lost count of the number of stories out of Nigeria; the number of deaths, the number of those beaten, the number of those displaced.
But I know that our God, who has counted every hair on every head and who has captured every tear, has not lost count. And that he’s welcomed those who followed Christ to Calvary and that He’s standing beside those who are still enduring. Thank you, Father!
As I was working on the bulletin for our Christmas Eve service, I ran across information about the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which sits on the site where Jesus was born. It’s in the Palestine Authority today and Christmas services are their responsibility. God, using the Islamic authority to oversee Christmas services!
And was reading The Guardian’s story about Christians in Israel’s Gaza Strip lamenting the departure of the Palestine Authority, pushed out by Hamas. There hasn’t been a public sign of Christmas since 2007, when Hamas “cancelled” Christmas.
What a silly notion for the enemy to think it can “cancel” Christmas! God said He would bring His Son into our broken world, how He would do it, how to identify the babe, where it would occur, that His Son would die for our sins, so that we can have everlasting life. THERE.IS.NO.STOPPING.GOD.
Christmas around the world looks really different than in my city. I don’t tell you this to discourage you or to bring you down on this the most wonderful time of the year. Quite the opposite … I tell you this to encourage you and to lift you up. And as we’re called to do, pray and support those who live where faith costs the most.
Christmas is not about the “public” demonstration. The very first Christmas was announced to the shepherds, the lowliest of the social class at the time. Look at your nativity scene – Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, two or three shepherds. And then a little later, three wise men. Hardly a “public” demonstration. But there was no canceling that Christmas. And there will be no cancellation this year either!
THERE.IS.NO.STOPPING.GOD. “Father … not my will, but Yours be done …” (Luke 22:42).
Loving the Journey,