One of the joys of this year has been not only talking about the Life Group ministry, but also actually being part of one! Libby and I have hosted our group for two years, and it has become the one of the highlights of our lives. But this past week, our group turned a corner: While we normally use the discipleship toolbox of the church for our studies, we instead listened to a podcast by the Rev. John Eldredge, called “Finding Life at Christmas.” I absolutely recommend it to all, and you may find it online at http://www.ransomedheart.com/podcast/finding-life-christmas.
This podcast produced very powerful discussion in our group for two reasons. First, the authors were vulnerable enough to say that Christmas, even for clergy, can be painful and at times even dreaded, because of all the pressure, expectations, and spiritual battles. Secondly, Eldredge talked about the agreements we all occasionally make. He names what many of us, especially those who have gone through tragedy, are secretly thinking within our hearts: Christmas will be horrible again this year because _______________. The problem with such an agreement is that we then often find ourselves living into such an agreement! The prophecies come true! Eldredge ended the podcast by challenging the listeners to consecrate Christmas, dedicating it to Jesus, making it holy, joy-filled.
I remember listening to the podcast with our Life Group, staring at our Christmas tree and the ethereal lights, the quiet of the night giving way to the challenge over the speakers. The ensuing conversation was one of the richest, most life-giving conversations we’ve ever had. It reminded us once again that Jesus was born not just to bring comfort, but also to redefine our lives, giving us the needed do-overs!