Life is an interesting journey. Our journeys do not begin at the same point, and they don’t end at the same point and many of the routes are different along the way. But one thing we all have in common...we are all on a journey.
The journey is very different at the different stages of life we are in.
As teenagers, it seemed like life took forever. We were constantly waiting for the end of the school year, or to get a license, or to graduate.
As young adults, our journey took us out of the home into new territories: uncharted, uncertain, expensive territories. It was all new. So many firsts happen in those years. First real relationship. First real job. First real bills.
And then there is the young family stage. It’s like getting on the highway at rush hour and not exiting the freeway for 18 years. It is rush as fast as you can, in every opening you can, to get to the end of the journey…their graduation.
But our journey doesn’t end there. There is the empty nest slow down. There is the grandparent race. There is the career winding down. There is the retirement speed up.
We are all at different stages of this journey through life. And one of the best parts is sharing it with each other. We find fellow travelers who are in the same lane, headed to the same place, asking for the same directions. As a church, we have a lot going on in December. It's a busy month for us. We have a cook off and a brunch for our men and women. We will hold our largest service event, packing 80,000 meals for those in need. Christmas Eve services will share the story and the excitement of the season. They are very different events. They don’t have the same feel (Men with chili and women at a brunch… thank God, we got those right.) People eating, or singing, or serving.
But we realize they appeal to us at different stages of life for different reasons. We are all at different parts of our journey. Some are in the phase where they are looking for ways to engage their children in the meaning of Christmas and life. Others are looking for ways to engage their friends in something spiritual: something that could lead them to God. Others are trying to figure out this God thing...and this Christmas time is one of those moments, they might just stumble through our doors. Trying to connect with something deeper. Looking to fill an emptiness, a yearning in their life for some greater meaning.
And so, we enjoy the variety of what we do at Christmas. And we encourage you to invite and include your friends and family at these Christmas events. Some need to hear a simple Christmas message. Some need a chance to serve and connect with people who are trying to make a difference in our community. Some are looking for friendships and the chance to get to know people over a meal. We do not always recognize the stage of the journey they are in. But I know this, God is in every stage of the journey. God is looking for a way to reach out to us and those around us with new thoughts of Him, new challenges to walk through, or a new life to live.
When Luke, the historian wrote the book of Acts, he records Paul saying these words in the city of Athens. It was a city known to be open to lots of differing ideas. They accepted many different religious views and liked the debate. He explained God had single-handedly created the universe and put it in order for a reason. He was aware of everyone. He was not just seated on some mountain, overlooking the earth. He is involved. He put people in locations and moved within countries and systems for a purpose. Paul said…
God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:27-28 NIV
We are all on a journey. And God is not far from us, or from anyone we interact with. So, at this most wonderful, busy, interactive, family, shopping, hectic time of the year, let’s remember to invite others to come with us.
Over the next few weeks, our involvement in inviting them is crucial. Whether by word of mouth, sharing our Facebook event, or distributing a door hanger, you can show we care enough to include them when it matters. They may not feel close to Him (yet), but He is not far from them on their journey.
I am looking forward to our journey together through the end of this year.