Keep The Faith explores the reasons why Christians should be inspired by Christmas to do good for others, and gives an insight into some of the things believers will be doing over this unique season of the year
If there’s any time of year when churches should be publicly seen to do good works – whether it’s to the people in their congregation; within their local community; wider society or internationally – it’s during the Christmas season.
The birth of Christ over 2,000 years ago is a pivotal moment in human history. In fact, it’s a world-defining moment, so much so, that when Christ was born, three wise men saw its occurrence in the skies, and followed the stars until it led them to the Baby Jesus. They carried with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, which they presented to the holy Infant born to the virgin Mary.
An angel proclaimed the good news of Christ’s birth to shepherds who were in a field, watching their sheep, stating, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for the people. Today, in the town of David, has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
Following this historic proclamation, ‘a great company of the heavenly host’ then appeared alongside the angel and praised God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
Why was Christ’s birth seen as ‘good will toward men’? Well, it had been foretold since Adam and Eve’s transgression in the Garden of Eden. After satan had persuaded the couple to eat fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God banished him from the Garden, saying “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel” (Genesis 3:9).
Isaiah 9 also spoke of Christ’s coming, focusing on His character, and the qualities He would bring to the world, stating, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7). It’s no wonder, then, that the angels shared the good news of Christ’s arrival here on earth. His birth heralded a new dawn of hope, peace and salvation.
There are numerous Christians who take umbrage at the Christmas season, and don’t recognise it due to its pagan roots, when people in Europe celebrated the winter solstice, a time seen as the official ending of winter. The Church did not start celebrating Christ’s birth until 300 years after His birth and, by the 4th century, had instituted a holy day celebrating Christ’s birth, with the aim of Christianising the solstice celebrations.
Whilst these reasons for not celebrating Christmas are understandable, Christians are admonished to do good works at all times, so why not also at this unique time of year, when society has a general focus on doing good for others?
The birth of Christ is a demonstration of God’s good will and benevolence towards society. It makes sense, then, for Christians to take their cue from the heavenly Father at this time, and to be a light to the world, doing good works, and spreading the love of God at Christmas.
The Scriptures tell us that the life of a Christian should be action-packed with good works. James 2:14-17 states, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Christmas is a great time to do good for others – and in doing so, you’ll be shining God’s light and inspiring others to give Him glory.
Here are some great things that churches and ministries will be doing over the Christmas:
JESUS HOUSE – BRENT CROSS, LONDON
Jesus House always seeks to spread good cheer during Christmas time. Church volunteers will be based at stations throughout the London Borough of Barnet, giving out warm drinks and mince pies. They’ve also collected toys to fill 8,000 shoe boxes, which will be distributed by Christian charity, Samaritans Purse, and they will be giving away 3,000 food hampers to families living on local housing estates. They will also be feeding the homeless. Visit www.jesushouse.org.uk.
LOVE LIFE UK
Love Life UK is a ministry, founded by Bruce Dyer. One of the things it does regularly is go into prisons across the UK to share the Gospel. It also gives support to inmates when they leave prison. During the Christmas season, the Love Life UK Team will be visiting various prisons across the country to hold carol services. They will also be distributing gift bags containing books, notepads, pens and music CDs. Visit www.lovelifeuk.org.
NEW WINE CHURCH, WOOLWICH, SOUTH EAST LONDON
New Wine Church is renowned for its generosity and lively celebrations during the Christmas season. This Christmas, they will be distributing food hampers throughout the London Borough of Greenwich, in which they are based. They will also be hosting a number of events, including Night of A Thousand Lights on Christmas Eve. There will be a special service on Christmas Day, and a New Year’s Eve Celebration on December 31. Visit www.newwine.co.uk.
SHOOTERS HILL SCHOOL OF ARTS
Shooters Hill School of Arts will be hosting ‘Christmas is Painful’ at Woolwich Town Hall, Market Street, London SE18 on December 22, to minister to people who have experienced bereavement and loss. It runs from 1.00pm to 5.30pm, and will feature live performances, and workshops covering topics such as ‘Coping With Bereavement’, ‘Overcoming Life Obstacles’ and careers. Phone 07843 482 652, or visit www.shootershillschoolofarts.com/cip-registration.php for details.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
Christian international development charity, Habitat for Humanity, is calling on congregations across the country to consider spending a small fraction of their Christmas budgets on a housing-themed alternative Christmas gift. The Charity builds homes throughout the world for those who can’t afford them. Gifts you can choose from include: a water-harvesting gutter, bricks, a sack of cement, or a course in construction training. Or you could finance the building of a whole home for the small price of £1,235. Visit www.habitatforhumanity.org.uk/gifts.
Here is a list of churches you can attend over the Christmas holidays. You can phone, email or visit their websites to find out their service times over the Christmas and New Year period:
112 Brent Terrace
London NW2 1LT
Tel: 020 8438 8285
66a Sebert Road
London E7 6AA
Tel: 020 8555 4245
TRINITY BAPTIST CHURCH
2 Thornlaw Road
London SW27 0SA
Tel: 020 8766 7732
CHARISMA CHRISTIAN CENTRE
Tel: 020 8317 6705
9 The Broadway
London N22 6DS
Tel: 020 8829 0080
NEW TESTAMENT ASSEMBLY
7 Beechcroft Road
Tel: 020 8672 9416
122 Brixton Hill
London SW2 1RS
Tel: 020 8678 6888
468-474 Hoe Street
Tel: 020 8525 0000
NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH OF GOD
244 Lozells Road
Tel: 0121 554 1358
384 Hyde Road
Manchester M12 4SA
Tel: 07951 550 992 or 07790 099 229
63 Stratford Road
Milton Keynes MK12 5LT
Tel: 01908 221381
CALVARY CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST
127 Dunstable Road
Luton LU1 1BW
Tel: 01582 877070
THE DELIVERANCE CENTRE
12 Portman Road
Reading RG30 1EA
Tel: 0118 950 8534