Christmas

Lottie Moon is the Southern Baptist missionary whose life inspired the mission’s offering named after her. She spent 40 years of her life as a missionary in China with the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board, IMB). She was cultured, brilliant, and godly. She mastered Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Italian, French, and Spanish in college.

Before going overseas, she was engaged to be married to Crawford Toy who had also committed to be a missionary. The marriage never happened because of “religious differences.” Toy studied theology in Germany in the late 1800s under theological liberals and adopted a higher critical approach to Scripture. Eventually, Toy denied the authority of Scripture, and died a Unitarian.

On the other hand, Lottie Moon believed God’s Word to be both true and authoritative. Her belief in God’s Word grounded her understanding of Christian mission. Her words to the Foreign Mission journal appropriately challenge us:

The needs of these people press upon my soul, and I cannot be silent. It is grievous to think of these human souls going down to death without even one opportunity of hearing the name of Jesus. People talk vaguely about the heathen, picturing them as scarcely human, or at best, ignorant barbarians. If they could live among them as I do, they would find in the men much to respect and admire; in the women and girls they would see many sweet and loving traits of character. They would feel, pressing upon their heart and conscience, the duty of giving the gospel to them. It does seem strange that when men and women can be found willing to risk life—or, at least, health and strength—in order that these people may hear the gospel, that Christians withhold the means to send them. Once more I urge upon the consciences of my Christian brethren and sisters the claims of these people among whom I dwell.

Lottie Moon

These words were uttered by a 4’ 3” giant of Baptist mission history. She gave her life to the Chinese people in the work of world missions. She died at 72 years old weighing only about 50 pounds at the time of her death. She had given all her food away to starving children. She knew, believed, and gave her life to share the good news. 

You can find out more about Lottie Moon from the International Mission Board (IMB). Her life and mission work is recorded here.

The year end Christmas offering was named after Lottie Moon by the Women’s Missionary Union in 1918. Since the inception of that offering more than $5 billion have raised for the ongoing work of international missions. You can read more about the IMB and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering here.

Wilkesboro Baptist has a budgeted amount that we give to the IMB annually, and we also participate in the Lottie Moon Christmas offering each year. Wilkesboro Baptist Church has been blessed. As of the writing of this post, we’ve already exceeded our budgeted requirements for 2021. Thank you for your generous giving.

As a reflection of our gratitude and an offering of thanks to the Lord, would you consider a special year end gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering? If you are not part of WBC, you can give directly to the IMB through the links above. If you are a part of WBC, you can designate your special offering through your giving at WBC. Whatever you give through this offering will go to support and send missionaries to the nations.

Our mission at WBC is to lead our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus. Would you pray about what God might have you give to this special offering for Christmas 2021?

Advent season has begun. Many churches and Christians observe specific rituals and remembrances during advent season. Special candles are lit, and Scriptures are read. Some families have advent devotions. Some followers of Jesus will read through the advent accounts in the Gospels.

For many however, the theological implications of advent have been overshadowed by the commercialization of the Christmas holidays: Christmas movies that don’t contain any references to Christ; shopping and gift buying with only minimal interest in the needs of others; busyness and bustle that stretches and stresses us as the year wanes away.

Let me encourage you not to bind yourself to the commercialization of the Christmas season. Remember that Christmas is advent.

Advent means the arrival of someone notable or important.

When we discuss advent, we are not talking about your friends or family coming over for the holidays. Nor do we mean the jolly old Saint Nick arriving to leave presents at your house.

Advent means the arrival of the Christ-child. The arrival of the Christ-child more than 2000 years ago invites us to experience what is meaningful.

Advent is a time to reflect. Reflect on the Christ who came into the world. Make time for gathered worship at your church. Make time to read the Bible, especially the Gospels. Make time to think about the events of the Advent and especially the One who came.

Advent is a time to refocus. Refocus on the reason Christ came. Jesus did not arrive in the world to bring us presents and financial blessings. He is not a religious version of Santa Claus. Jesus is Lord, and as we are reminded in one of my favorite carols, Jesus was Lord at birth (“Silent Night”). Jesus did not come that we might sentimentalize the Christmas season. Jesus came with a ministry and a mission to serve, preach, and bring salvation. Advent is important because of Jesus’ passion and resurrection.

So as you focus on the Christ-child, remember that he grew up to be our substitute on Calvary’s cross.

Advent is a time to renew. Renew your commitment to Jesus Christ. Are you following Jesus? Or are you following your own way of life? Jesus did not come merely to save us. He came to remake us. Jesus doesn’t merely invite us to experience forgiveness. He invites us to experience regeneration. Jesus does not only call us to meet him. He calls us to follow him. Advent is a time to renew your commitment as a Christ-follower.

Here are some specific ways for you to renew your commitment to Christ this advent season:

  • Make time to read the advent stories and thank Jesus for coming. If you are not currently reading the Bible regularly, why don’t you begin December 1 by reading one chapter a day in the Gospel of Matthew or the Gospel of Luke. Or here is a link to an advent devotional by John Piper. For the first 25 days of December, thank God for one specific thing he has done for you because of advent.
  • Rekindle an old advent tradition or begin a new one. Make a meal (or cookies) for someone who is lonely. Buy Christmas gifts for a family in need (parents, have your children help with this and involve them in generosity). Go caroling. Embrace the joy of the shepherds who just had to tell what they had seen on that first Christmas night.
  • Be present at gathered worship. The pandemic has had a detrimental effect on church attendance. Sure, it is convenient to watch at home or to not go at all. But one way to renew your commitment to Christ is to make time to be in gathered worship. You need it, and your fellow church members need to see you there as well. Let your worship this advent season renew your faith in Jesus.
  • Invite others to meet Christ. Christmas traditions and trappings are beautiful. Enjoy your tree, the meals, the gatherings, and the presents. But never forget that Christmas would mean little without the cross. Jesus came to save not to make us sentimental. Give someone the greatest gift this season. Invite them to receive eternal life by following Jesus.

Above all, celebrate the Christ who came to bring us life.

Photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash