Without Walls

the ramblings of an ordinary radical - pastor allan

Holidays - A Family (dis) Function

As the temperatures change and the colors of Fall appear we are quickly entering one of the most cherished times of the year. A time that we slow our busy lives long enough to acknowledge an incredible debt of gratitude that we owe to God for sustaining us and providing for our families for yet another year. Most importantly, this is the season we thank Him for the birth of Christ Jesus. The God of all creation, coming to the earth as a man, walking among us for a time and sacrificing Himself to pay our sin debt. Ensuring for us, forgiveness. These are overwhelming times for believers as our hearts swell with gratitude, remembering once again all that we have been saved from and how very thankful we should truly be.

This is a time that we gather with friends and family to celebrate the blessings and bounty we enjoy in this nation and yet so often take for granted. These gatherings of family and loved ones are as unique and eclectic as those who attend them. The sounds and smells that we experience are a testimony to the melting pot that is our nation. Various traditions, food and music from diverse ethnic backgrounds can make for great fun and some interesting experiences (especially if your spouse is Puerto Rican :). Yet with all of the wonderful family diversity found in our expressions of holiday cheer, it seems that we all have one thing in common; that sneaky little spirit of "tension" that hides itself among us waiting for the opportune time to burst onto the scene! Often times we gather with family that we rarely see and hardly know. Weird uncles who dress funny, that cousin who never stops talking and knows everything about everything and then some. Even some family members who worship strange gods or consider you an alien with two heads (or at least a scary right wing conservative) for being one of those narrow minded Christians. Many are distant relatives with which we have nothing in common (except great aunt Hazel) and we struggle to have a meaningful conversation with them. Conversations about the unusual weather patterns we have been experiencing lately do not count. Honestly, we wonder how we could possibly be related to some of them (and we're not sure if a DNA test would make us feel better or worse!) For the record, that is why there are football games on television from early morning until late at night on most holidays. A glorious place where a bunch of people who don't really know each other (or want to for that matter) can sit for hours and mindlessly stare at a screen as if they really care who plays linebacker for the Detroit Lions. Maybe I'm the only one who understands this whole scenario, but for those who can relate, let me encourage you (us).

As believers we have a family that we can be proud of, lets run to them with open arms this holiday season! At times we place so much emphasis on "blood kin" that we miss a whole lot of opportunities to give and receive love from true family members.

Remember the time that Jesus was talking to the crowd (Matthew 12) and someone told Him that His Mother and Brothers were outside wanting to speak to Him? He replied in verses 48-50 "who is my mother and who are my brothers?" Pointing to His disciples He said "here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother". Jesus was not showing disrespect to His family, nor was He saying that He did not cherish them. He was simply establishing the reality that among Christ followers there is a much bigger family than the one we are related to by human bloodlines.

We have probably all heard the term "blood is thicker than water". Usually it is used to justify standing by or supporting a relative (often through trouble of some kind) against others who are in opposition to them (and not relatives). It doesn't matter if our relative is wrong, guilty or caught in the act of a crime...we're supporting their side of the argument because "blood is thicker than water". The problem with that attitude is that it is an entirely wrong interpretation of the phrase.

Think about this phrase for a moment..."the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of a mother's womb".

The blood of Christ that binds us together as a New Covenant family (reborn into His Kingdom) is stronger than the water of the womb that bound us, that we were naturally birthed from.

Being believers together in Christ, washed and bound with the blood of His sacrifice, makes us one family. Made strong by forgiveness, focused together by a divine destiny and eternally bound by an immeasurable and unending love. We need one another. At this time in history, in this nation, during these rapidly changing times, more than ever, we need one another.

As we gather to see our relatives and attend our family celebrations this holiday season (and yes, we should try to enjoy them), let's not forget our greater family. Brothers we can call on in times of need, a sister we can turn to for the encouragement we need to carry on, mothers and fathers who are willing to give us the hug that we need or simply tell us that "they are proud of us". Those words might be just what we need to hear in order to muster the strength to push forward and not quit in what can be a cold and unforgiving world.

Over the next couple of months many will be tempted with despair, touched with loneliness, fear or depression. Some will simply feel the heaviness of an unexplainable sadness trying to overtake them. Can we commit together to reach out to our greater family? A family made up of "blood relatives" who are bound by a Covenant of love, the love found only in Jesus Christ.

Call someone new, encourage someone you have hardly spoken to, invite a new face to dinner for the first time. Share your heart (the real part), offer a sincere prayer for someone who hasn't asked for it, reach out with an unexpected act of kindness. Be the family you wished you had. If you are one of the blessed ones that have a great natural family (first give God praise!), then challenge that family to reach beyond themselves, to share a part of themselves with someone that is not as fortunate. Those who need you are not hard to find. They are all around you, in a world that is filled with people who are in desperate need of a true family.

Let's have a blessed holiday season together, with them!

Pastor Allan

Moore's Giving More Christmas Project

This is a great opportunity for us to help kids in our community that are need this holiday season. All types of toys, bikes and games are needed. They should be either new or in very good, gently used condition. This ministry also provides some Christmas trees and decorations, as well as filled stockings for children. Last year, several of the families that received these trees said they had never had a tree before. Needless to say, the children were overwhelmed with excitement when the trees arrived!

Here are some items they hope to provide:
Christmas Trees
Christmas Lights
Decorations for the Tree
Stockings (which will be filled and decorated with names)
Children's Books
Toothbrushes
Toys, Bikes & Games
Stocking Stuffers

ALL DONATIONS must be in good, clean working shape, NEW items accepted as well :)

You can bring donations to our next two Anchor Family Gatherings

There are also opportunities to help with preparation and distribution of these gifts.

This is a GREAT opportunity to be a blessing this holiday season!

To help:
Please call BETHINA CRAIGEN who will be overseeing this project. (830)220-2004

Anchor of Hope - Church Without Walls

Next Family Gathering - November 22 - Oakridge Community Center- 5-8 p.m.