The secret of world mission is right there in the centre of the nativity story. How can we reach the world with God’s good news? How can we teach people about the amazing grace of the Gospel? How can we bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven? I have read lots of books for answers. I have been to many Conferences? I have even spoken about mission at many Conferences! Yet, the simplicity of world mission is so profound that we often drive right through Christmas and miss it.
In the straw of our fouled fallen failings
In the straw of our dim dumb distracting dreams
In the straw of our wasted wily wealth
In the straw of our shame stained self indulgence
In the straw
In the straw
God’s definitive interruption
Heaven’s eternal song of hope
Earth’s last word on redemption
Grace’s love gift lavishly laid
In the straw.
In the straw. There it is. God’s way of reaching us. We are back to that key verse from John’s prologue “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
There were so many times in Onialeku, Uganda last summer when my wife Janice would say to me and the rest of our team, “it is enough to just show up.” It is hard to believe that from a distance.
There are still many people who think it would be better if we just sent the money to East Africa. They think that all the plane fares and hotel costs could be better spent by the locals. They are wrong and my wife is right.
When you show up in their manger of straw the effect it has is spiritually profound and the Gospel goes deep. I remember talking with Bishop Isaac under the mango tree at Onialeku school. I asked him straight, would he have preferred the money? No, was immediate and unequivocal response.
After our trip I received an email from Pastor David revealing the impact our team had made - “To the children its like angels visited them, to see a white man play with the children Reverend that meant a lot to us and children, for some children its really the first time for having a chance to play with white people.”
Presence. The Gospel becoming flesh. Close enough to whisper. This is the model that Jesus gives us in this Christmas scene. Sermons have their place but there is nothing like presence and relationship. It is in presence that the glory and grace and truth of Jesus are most fully revealed.