Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
A group of shepherds and some travellers from the East cottoned on to who Jesus was not long after he was born thanks to an angelic choir and their ability to read and follow stars. By the time he spoke these weighty words 33 years later, he had 11 faithful disciples and an unknown but pretty insignificant number of others who would have counted themselves as his followers.
This inauspicious group was soon persecuted and scattered, and that really should have been the end of that. There have been plenty of other leaders to draw followers and gain influence, later lucky to become a footnote of history. Consider Charles Dederich, Anne Hamilton-Byrne, and Aum Shinrikyo; ever heard of them?
As we prepare for Christmas Day 2023, a quick Google search tells me there are upwards of 2.3 billion Christians in the world ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus next Monday. Along the way and down the years, people have been faithfully following the command to make disciples, to baptise them, to teach them the way of Christ. And he has kept his promise to be with us.
It’s tough to share our faith in a context where, on the one hand, people think they know the bones of it from Nativity plays and Christmas cards and, on the other, are devoted believers in self-fulfilment and individual choice. The message of the cross struggles to grow in the soil of this self-assured time and place.
But imagine if no one had told us we could know the God who made us, that we could live forgiven and new lives, and that we could live forever in his loving presence. My mother became a Christian at university when she was first told she could have a relationship with Jesus. She couldn’t believe no one had spoken to her about this before!
So, let’s be brave and make sure everyone we know has the chance to accept the gift of a new relationship with God, a gift wrapped in swaddling clothes and delivered on that first Christmas. If there were those who doubted even as they stood in the risen Jesus’ presence as he ascended to heaven, there will be plenty who doubt as we stumblingly share our faith. And there will be those who receive it as though being given a treasure of incalculable worth.
Director of Communications, A Rocha. Jo and LICC have teamed up to adapt her 2021 Advent book, The Whole Christmas Story, into a 25-day devotional journey that connects the whole story of Christmas to the whole of our lives.
Who might God be prompting you to share this gift of good news with? Join the conversation below.