Furthermore, not only did we proclaim that we had good news to share, with the permission of the pub manager we went from table to table and offered a free Christmas gift of a candle in a glass holder that simply declared: ‘you are loved.’ People thanked us for the gifts and groups of party-goers even welcomed us to sit with them at their tables. On hearing we were from one of the local churches some people reached for their wallets ready to make a donation. They were surprised to hear that we weren’t collecting money and that the attractive gifts were free. A few people we spoke to simply wept as we mentioned what we believed to be at the heart of the Christmas story: God loved them so much that he gave his only Son for them. Many hadn’t heard this news before. Over two evenings we gave out 200 free gifts and spoke to many people. My shepherd friend and I even enjoyed talking with two guys by the pool table for a long time as they asked us question after question about what we believed and why.
Christmas is by far the best time in the year to share the good news of Jesus, and what’s more there are plenty of people willing to hear and experience it. Last year over 70 churches up and down the country took part in ‘Get in the picture’. Literally hundreds of members of the public donned fancy-dress nativity clothes and posed for a picture in a stable scene. Pictures were then uploaded onto a web site (www.getinthepicture.org.uk) and from there they could Facebook it, e-card, or simply download it. This year we are expecting more churches to take part, it is such an easy way to connect the old story in a fresh way.
How are you taking the opportunities that Christmas brings to share what you have as a Christian? One of the things I love to do is ‘get all arty!’ I enjoy doing street art in busy shopping centres. You see, the story of God becoming a man and making his dwelling amongst us (John 1.14) is a story that the majority of people in the UK have yet to hear or connect with. So, over the past few years I have carefully placed piles of rubbish around a manger with a baby doll wrapper in swaddling clothes. People have questioned what my ‘rubbish sculpture’ is all about. Some notice that on close examination amongst the rubbish there is a sign: ‘God became a man.’ Many have been fascinated by the sculpture which serves as a wonderful illustration for connecting the story of the incarnation.
On one occasion I visited every pub in a city delivering beer mats. On one side it declared: ‘Don’t forget to wet the baby’s head this Christmas.’ On the other side I had copied these verses from Luke chapter 2: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
This year I am copying an idea from British artist Mark Wallinger for some street art. I will have three security guards protecting an empty crib which contains a small crown. I shall give out literature with the heading ‘The King is coming!’ Simple, yet I am hoping will speak powerfully to people about the first Christmas.
Don’t worry; I’m not suggesting that you really have to head to your local pub or city centre armed with piles of rubbish to connect something of your faith this year. How can you show what you believe to your work colleagues and friends and neighbours? How about organising an office mince pies and carols event? Or have you ever considered carol singing in your street and offering chocolates to everyone who answers their door. Or simply give your work colleagues a seasonal card containing the real Christmas story. Whatever you do, my hope is that you plan now to do something to bring this amazing news to those who have yet to hear at the most opportune time of the year.
Chris Duffett is President elect of the Baptist Union in Great Britain and national evangelist with The Light Project, a group of people who aim to actively demonstrate the Christian message and train others to do the same.