Wednesday, 15 December 2010

What is a "win" for our Christmas service this Sunday

Here is a letter I would love to receive after our Christmas service. We hear many of these comments already so this is how the whole experience should feel like at NCLC. We are getting there.

Dear Pastor Jon

I just wanted to write this letter to say thank you to you and your church for my first experience of NCLC. I came along last Sunday to your Christmas Presentation and was blown away by what I saw, felt and learned.

My friend Dave, at work has been bugging me for the past couple of months or so about coming along to church, but I always had a good reason not to. Actually my good reasons were excuses because I had been dragged to church as a kid and the last place I wanted to be on the busy run up to Christmas was a boring, draughty, cold, unfriendly church. How wrong could I have been!

My friend had been coming along to NCLC for a while and I began to notice a real difference in him. He no longer seemed as hassled by the work as he used to be. He talked about his wife in a way that made me think he really loved and respected her. Thats not what he used to be like believe me. We were told at the beginning of the month that we might be made redundant which was a huge blow. He was as upset as all the rest of us but seemed to have a calmness and peace about him that I couldn't understand.

Anyway after seeing how he has been dealing with that news I wanted to know a bit more about this God that he talks about so I decided to come along with him to the Christmas service. My friend was a bit crafty and asked me to pick him up, I realised later that he was making sure I got there.

As we got close to the City Hall I could see some idiots lined up in the street with bright yellow jackets chatting to people and giving out hot drinks. They must have been idiots because it was freezing yet they had big smiles on their faces and were talking to people as they went past. When I realised they were from NCLC I asked how much were they being paid for doing that. I couldn't believe they were all volunteers and a lot of them were under 18. Unbelievable

As we walked into the City Hall foyer I already had a steaming cup of hot chocolate in my hand. This was when it got really weird. As we walked through the door people came across and started talking to me. This wasn't the kind of church I remembered. I was introduced to a whole load of people who made me feel as if they were there just for me. I was still very sceptical though because they had obviously been told to look out for me by my friend (or so I thought).

Some people that knew Dave came up and started talking to him and I thought they would leave me out of the conversation, but I was introduced to them and was included in the group. I mentioned to someone about our job situation and immediately one of the group said they knew someone from the church in my field of work so they went and got her. She said she would speak to her company to see if there were any jobs coming up.

By this time a lot of my perceptions about church were being broken down. I couldn't believe how many different age groups and colours of people (not sure if thats politically correct) there were and so many involved in what was going on. I felt like I want to grab a jug and start giving people hot chocolate.

Well when we went into City Hall the atmosphere was amazing. Everyone was excited to be there. I was looking forward to singing some traditional carols. Well we did that but the band, choir and whole presentation was like something off MTV. When I watched the video about human trafficking it made me so angry, yet blew away another perception about church and money. You gave your whole offering to help rescue the girls being trafficked.

The speaker was sooo funny but the way he talked about Christmas really challenged me about my life and what I was doing. At the end of the service the challenge he gave to raise our hand if we wanted to know this Jesus that came in a manger made my stomach turn in knots. I put my hand up. I didn't want to at first because I could tell that Dave was praying for me and I didn't want to admit he had been right all along. Dave came with me to meet some people at the end of the service who prayed with me and gave me a Bible.

I hung around after the carols and people were chatting and arranging to have people over for Christmas lunch. I will be so fat being part of this church, everything is over a meal. Saying that the people were working so hard packing down equipment that they must have to eat loads. Dave asked me if I could stay and help so I did. I have never seen people work so hard for no pay. I had a real feeling they were doing all of this just for me.

I came to church because I had already seen something different in Dave. I have since found out its not something, it is someone. My perceptions were broken down by the NCLC community and because of what happened I also met Jesus. I had so much that needed forgiving in my life and am on a journey of getting to know God. My life has been so much about me and my needs. This church has given me a glimpse of someone bigger than myself. I will never be the same again.

Hope its ok but I have already asked people to come along next week. I hope my experience wasn't a one off.

So thank you


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