Dec 10, 2020

What I Want for Christmas

By Becky Eminger




It was never my plan to hope and pray that my children would be Christmas and Easter church attenders, or "C & E’s," as they are sometimes called. And yet, as we prepare for Advent, this is indeed my prayer. I am as surprised by this as anyone! Sure, they could hear the Gospel anytime, but they do not make the time or effort. But at Christmas and Easter, an opportunity opens for many to step into God’s house, His love, and His redemptive Gospel.

I had never heard of the term "C & E" until a few years ago.  In a planning meeting for upcoming church events at our former church, one of the staff members made the offhand remark that we would need to plan for the C & E’s showing up.  This was said with sneer and a roll of the eyes.

I had to ask what C & E meant.  The person replied, “You know, the people who only bother to show up on Christmas and Easter.”

Ah. It appeared C & E’s were nowhere as good as regular church attendees. I did not give this concept much thought, nor did I bother to question or defend the C & E’s in our church.

Until now.

My husband and I never thought our children would leave the church.  We had them baptized shortly after birth, went with them to church and Sunday School each Sunday, held family devotions, read Bible lessons, prayed with them, and sent them to Lutheran day school.  It never occurred to us they would leave the church altogether.

But they did leave. There are reasons or excuses, depending on your viewpoint.  None of that matters much; only the consequences of their choice matters.
 
Now that they are adults, the only influence we have is prayer and the example of how we live our faith. While we enjoy a loving, close relationship with our kids; faith in Christ remains the one topic they either avoid or shut down with the statement that they do not believe anything they were taught. Subject closed. Talking about it? Not on the table at this point. Attending church? They avoid it studiously by planning to be busy on Sundays when we are together.
 
There is no promise any of them will be in church with us on Christmas Eve, but we pray that they will come to hear, once again, God’s great love for us and His plan for our salvation.

Is it because we want the warm, fuzzy feelings of being together in church? Do we want to give off the image of being the perfect, happy family?
 
No and no. The simple reason they need to be in church is this: God’s Word has the power to save.
 
Romans 10:17 says:
"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Our kids, and all C & E’s, need to hear God’s truth.  The Holy Spirit can rekindle their faith in the Triune God. Like the bleeding woman whose faith led her to touch the fringe of Jesus’ garment, we trust that hearing the Gospel at Christmas has incomprehensible power.
 
Isaiah 55:10-11 tells us:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

And so, we pray, not only for our beloved children and grandchildren, but for all the C & E’s who will be in church, who will be bathed in the saving words of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We pray fervently that their hearts be open, that their faith be restored. 
 
And it can happen!  We know God desires all mankind to be saved, and He wants us to pray for this very thing. 1 Timothy 2:1-6 says:
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time."

By the way, our kids, along with all who have fallen away, are every bit as precious to God as the regular church attenders. God desires for them to be saved. If you are concerned for your own loved ones, take heart. God knows and is delighted to hear our prayers.
 
This year, as you prepare to welcome the newborn King of Kings, please pray for those who will hear the Gospel, for their open reception of the Word. Pray now for the pastors who prepare to bring us the Good News of Jesus’ birth.
 
And God willing, our children and grandchildren may be more than casual hearers of God’s Word.  We pray that they would return to their faith and embrace all the richness of salvation through Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. In receiving God’s greatest gift, we can all receive what we most earnestly desire, that our loved ones would join us one day in Heaven.

Amen, may it be so!

***

Becky is a lifelong, confessional Lutheran child of God. Her vocations include wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and friend.

Now retired, she has an AA in education from CUAA and a BA in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University. Her interests include writing articles and fiction, and creating house and pet portraits in watercolor and colored pencil. Becky and her husband are members of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Spring Lake, MI.



4 comments:

  1. Well written; well said. Let us continue to pray.

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  2. Nicely done. Your comments are not only applicable to our children and relatives, but also to our friends.

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  3. This year many friends and some family were either not able to or unwilling to attend church during a pandemic. It is my prayer that families will be able to worship again together for Christmas and realize what they missed and come back to the church.

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  4. Beautifully written! I join you in prayer.

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