My experience over many years has been that this season has been anything but relaxing. Between Christmas concerts, parties, special services, end-of-year budgets and last-minute shopping, it has been NUTS for me. So I hope and pray that this holiday season not be so full of work that you are not able to enjoy Jesus Himself. May the Spirit be deeply present in your midst.
Idea from a client for involving more people in worship: One of the pastors I meet with weekly for coaching told me this: "I figured out an idea of having people read scripture in their language of origin, because I want to have different voices in worship. Jesus came for the world, and the world extends far beyond our experience, to remind us who the gospel is actually for. This past weekend, I had a women from India read in her native dialect, and halfway through, most of the congregation was weeping."
That'll preach! I receive daily devotional emails from Inward/Outward. Here is a pithy thought:
This is the mystery of the Christian life, to receive a new self, which depends not on what we can achieve but on what we are willing to receive.
Esther de Waal
Building blocks of ministry: I am in the thick of an eighteen-month journey with about 20 others, where we are doing our best to build a missional community in a Latino neighborhood. Most of our friends are poor and undocumented. For as many joys as we experience, we are also facing tremendous roadblocks and outright disappointment. These words really addressed some of my anxieties and were a healing balm to my discouragement:
There are, I should say, four elements in a redemptive community. It is personal, with things happening between people as well as to and in them individually; it is compassionate, always eager to help, observant but nonjudgmental toward others, breathing out hope and concern; it is creative, with imagination about each one in the group and its work as a whole, watching for authentic new vision coming from any of them; and it is expectant, always seeking to offer to God open and believing hearts and minds through which He can work out His will, either in the sometimes startling miracles He gives or in steady purpose through long stretches where there is no special "opening." It may fairly be said that unless one enmeshes himself in this "redemptive fellowship" of the church, he lessens his chances of steady growth and effectiveness, in his Christian life and experience.
Samuel M. Shoemaker
May your work in the kingdom seek after these four things, for they are tremendous good news for all who experience them.