Disciples are sent to proclaim the Good News. Every day is a good day to share the message of Jesus Christ. And, while regular days are good, Christmastime often is even better.
With so many Christian symbols in use and so many holiday events to attend, people may want to know more about the underlying reason behind the celebration and be well-disposed to learn more about the Christmas story. Holiday time is a festive time, and with so many being of good cheer, there may be more openness to listening to faith-sharing.
Before we attempt to speak about Christ, we need to be well-grounded ourselves. The first apostles spent time with Jesus before they went on mission. During the pre-Christmas hustle and bustle, it is more important than ever for us to spend time with Jesus, to set aside time for liturgical and personal prayer.
Sunday Mass is indispensable. As we listen to Scripture and hear it explained, it is a time to review and expand our spiritual understanding. And, as we receive holy Communion, we are given the strength and courage we need to bring Jesus and his Gospel to others.
Personal prayer is also imperative. It is the way to deepen our personal relationship with Jesus. We cannot give what we do not have. Moreover, if faith-sharing is going to be convincing, it must be genuine and authentic.
Faith-sharing should be respectful and gentle, not pushy and aggressive. Jesus invited. He did not demand. Jesus often began with miracles, tremendous good deeds, which led people to believe. Christmastime is the perfect time for us to do exceptionally good deeds, and if someone should open the door and ask “Why?” we should be ready to walk in with an explanation.
- Be joyful!
Advent is a season of joyful preparation, and the birth of Jesus is joy to the world! Christians are positive and upbeat, happy and cheerful. No one is attracted to crabbiness, pouting or grumpiness. A big smile and a bright mood set the stage for faith-sharing to happen.
- Be kind.
Go out of your way to recognize others, greet them, be warm and friendly, be helpful, do favors, listen attentively, offer compliments and express encouragements. No one is attracted to rudeness or snobbishness.
- Be generous.
Christmas is the time for giving presents. It is also the time for hospitality. Do your best to be big-hearted. Welcome guests. Make them feel at home. Set out treats and beverages. Serve nice meals. Share thoughtful gifts. No one is attracted to stinginess. Should someone notice and ask, “Why do you give so much?” we can seize the opportunity and reply, “God has been incredibly generous to me” and then share how God has provided blessings.
- Put up religious decorations.
Display a manger scene, put a Christmas star or angel on top of the tree. They can be excellent conversation starters and provide an opportunity to tell the Christmas story.
- Give spiritual gifts.
Buy presents that can lead others to Jesus. Some examples would be the Bible, a prayer book, cross or crucifix, rosary, religious medal or CD of sacred hymns or praise-and-worship music.
- Be ready to jump at the offer.
If someone should ask, “What would you like for Christmas?” don’t miss the opportunity! You might reply: “What would really make me happy would be if you would come with me to church this Christmas.” Then extend the invitation to the rest of the year and offer to help them learn more about their faith.
As we celebrate Christmas, let us be on the lookout for opportunities to share our faith in Jesus with others. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season.
Father Van Sloun is pastor of St. Stephen in Anoka.