The Christmas Visitor
In the southern part of England in the 19th century, a seasoned pastor had been called upon to move to a small town and revive the church. It was winter and the task seemed daunting for several reasons. First, with the difficulties of the weather...attendance would be down. Second, it was a small community and the likelihood that increased numbers would show up any time soon...was low.
So the mature teacher of the Word set out on this mission. Upon arriving, his concerns were soon proven out. The congregation was aging. The youth seemed set on anything but attending the small cottage chapel
regardless the weather or time of year. To top it off, there was a prominent man who was a farmer
that most looked up to. The challenge was that the farmer felt church began AND stayed
at home. He had long convinced many to stay in as often as possible. If he felt people were frequenting the church too much, he would speak about them behind their back until the individuals felt shamed into worshipping at home.
The first month of services were nothing less than abysmal. A half dozen showed up the first day he preached and half of them sat all the way at the back
uninvolved. Yet he preached onward trusting in his experience that theyd soon come as they had in the other churches he had shepherded. But when the Christmas service was just around the corner and still he had a meager following
he decided that the time had come. Bending low to the warped wooden floor beneath him, he prayed that the LORD would send him a sign of encouragement to continue. In that instant, the pair of oil lamps by the door slowly extinguished themselves
being empty. As the pastors eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness
the only light seen was through the side window which overlooked that farmers field. There, the torches which had been lit for the house and the stable
were shining like beacons. Gathering his cloak and scarf, so he headed towards the house
with the LORDs directions.
Shortly he arrived at the cobblestone homestead and boldly addressed the thick wood door in front him. There werent any sounds at first but soon came the evidence of life as a kettle, apparently bumped out of the way, scurried away in distinctly audible circles on the ground. Drawing back a step, the pastor awaited the inevitable. Either way, something would change this evening!
With an abrupt pull, the farmer cast aside the door
allowing the firelight to grace the face of his visitor. May I come in? was the natural inquiry which was followed by gruff yet unintelligible approval. So the man of GOD, after a few seconds hesitation
crossed over the threshold and closed the door behind him.
The farmer stood near the fireplace with his back towards the door
in silence. Taking this cue, the pastor slowly strode over beside him
also without speaking. As Jobs friends who paused for days without first speaking to Job, so the stillness and quiet were paired for what seemed like an eternity. Then moving towards the fire, the preacher took the nearby iron rod for stoking and pushed it into the glowing coals. The farmer was looking down by this time yet remained statuesque and solemn.
He moved the coals around for a little while and then with a sideways glance into the face of his skeptic, he withdrew the brightest ember by far
out onto the floor by itself. Again
the surrounding hush was extended and both stared at the slowly, ever so gradually, dying glow. No other movement nor sound was heard save the crackling blaze of conjoined coals and flames in front of them. Eyes cast their glance both to and from the fireplace and then back to the now lightless lump of coal. When it seemed that naught had been accomplished and words would need to be employed
the old farmer turned with these words. Aye, Ahll be seein you at church on the morrow.
By Whitney V.W. Jasnoch (11/30/07)
Devotional: Community is a necessary requirement for the Body. We can have times of Church at home but ultimately we are told to not forsake the assembling or gathering of ourselves together. Why? How does that relate to me? Lets look at each of the three points of growth in the life of a Christian.
Spark: This is where one has just accepted CHRIST as their Saviour and they want to be fed. Truly being given the milk of the Word, (as newborn babes in CHRIST) one goes to those which the compassionate ability to pour out the WORD in the form which the new believer can digest and begin to grow with. Consider that no baby gets milk out of the refrigerator on its own or even knows WHAT it should be eating and drinking. Again, the Body has been formed by CHRIST to serve in this role.
Flame: This is where one wants to know more about CHRIST. They are believers and now have burning questions about their faith. What do I believe specifically? What is Baptism? Speaking in Tongues? Healing? Here again, one needs the interaction with the saints to get answers. The Internet and the TV, along with various songs which are sung and written by wonderful artists
still cannot guide and nurture a soul such as human involvement and discussion can.
Beacon: This is the level of maturity where one is ready to share their faith in CHRIST
with others. In order to do that, one cannot stay at home. We are instructed to be ready in and out of season to share our faith with others. We are to go and preach the Gospel unto all nations. We are to bear one anothers burdens, stand in the gap for those who cannot stand, and so forth.
It is clear that to be a Christian, involvement is not an option nor something to be debated as though extraneous. Rather, my friends, we must interact with the Body of CHRIST both frequently and compassionately
for this is the will of Almighty GOD! Amen and amen.