architecture-small-church-steeple-700x475Today I read a blog I follow from Beauty Beyond Bones, entitled “Christmas In Kid English”This beautiful lady described her dilemma living in New York City and trying to explain to unbelievers the reason for the season, and it made her take a hard look in the mirror. I decided I’d assess and explore my thoughts on the season.
New York City, bathed in fresh snow, poses more problems than slippery sidewalks to Christians trying to relate their love and grasp for Christmas and all it stands for.
The Northeast and the Northwest sections of the United States are the least churched areas in the country. I recently worked in a church in New Hampshire and all accounts and research pointed to what I consider an amazing statistic: 1.9% of the population attends a Bible teaching church in that state. That’s 89.1% that don’t attend. It carries over to the rest of the Northeast with equally low numbers, and the stats are mirrored in the Northwest. Not so coincidentally, these two parts of the country are home to some of the finest Scholastic Institutions, and in turn some very smart students and adults. So enter the problem with critical thinking and out-smarting everyone else. After lots of discussing and wondering, the consensus of my peers was that “educated” people could explain things like creation, climate change and miracles in general, without having to credit some “higher power” or “magic man in the sky.”  Really?
After several sun-filled winter vacations in Florida I went to my friend and Pastor, Dr. Bruce Boria, and told him I had decided to moves south for good. I shared with him that every time I visited Florida, and anywhere in the “Bible belt”, I was amazed and in awe at the number of churches, the billboards “advertising” Jesus, and how the people with no shame at all were happy to say “God Bless” or “Praise Jesus.” In New Hampshire those kind of words were answered with sideways glares and sometimes non-repeatable comments. Not just disbelief, but pure contempt and anger. Pastor Bruce shared that it was our calling to bring people to Jesus under these trying circumstances. I understand that, and also told him that I felt my calling was elsewhere. I explained to the good Doctor that not only did I want to bask in the sun and warm waters, I wanted to immerse myself in the love and joy that is openly shared daily, everywhere, with people I considered just as smart as anyone, anywhere. Smart enough to learn and comprehend the value and reward of the teachings of  Jesus, and not afraid to love one another and openly express it. My time and talents have become more valuable here, to a more receptive audience.
imgresHere in Florida, it’s not just the Christmas lights in the palm trees, but the Spirit in the air and in the eyes and hearts of the people I meet, making it easy to see the Reason For The Season, and the meaning of Christmas has become so much more evident to me this year. God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, celebrated openly on the birthday of Jesus in overwhelming numbers, inside the walls of an overwhelming number of churches peppered throughout the south.
So today New York City and New Hampshire are buried in snow while I spent the day on the beach buried in the glow. The glow of the sun and the Son. I suppose “the cold doesn’t bother them anyway.”


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