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“Pastor Tim, why is there a tractor in my church?” Good question.
Do you have your to-do list made up? It’s Christmastime and we’re expected to get everything right. Are you “Seizing the Season”? Are you “Winning at Winter”? Are you “Crushing Christmas” this year? That language can be kind of fun when we want to celebrate an effort that went well or a moment we deeply enjoyed with family or friends. But it also expresses a little of the pressure we all feel to make this month Pinterest-worthy or record-setting.
In the middle of our ceaseless attempts to get things done, to achieve, to succeed—in our desperation to unlock the achievement “Killing it at Christmas” or “Hammering the Holidays,” do you think we’re missing something? I think God has a different agenda—that God has it in mind to interrupt our striving and succeeding, our failing and faltering, our “efforting” and longing. I want to suggest that God intends to interrupt our agenda with His own. On God’s agenda for Christmas is one three-letter word: J-O-Y.
Christmas—the birth of Jesus Christ—was an interruption. It was an invasion, in fact. God interrupted the decline and self-destruction of the world and sent His own Son into the world as an infant. Jesus—God— took on flesh and moved into our neighborhood. It was not the next thing on our agenda. It was unexpected. The angels announced it as
Joy is not easy to attain. Joy is not instantly produced. Joy is a fruit. Paul lists it as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Eugene Peterson writes in his Message Study Bible,
Fruit is the result of a long organic process. This process is complex and intricate. Fruit isn’t something made, manufactured, or engineered. It isn’t the product of drawing boards or committee meetings or sophisticated technologies. It isn’t the invention of a genius. It’s the result of a life of faith that is both germinated and nurtured by God’s Spirit.
Do you know about winter wheat? Seeds
Joy is not something you buy at the store. It isn’t something you fake or sprinkle over your December calendar while you run yourself ragged “Killing it at Christmas.” It is something that grows when you take time to wait and watch, resting in the hope of what Jesus has promised.
The Scripture says what we sow is what we will reap. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life,” says Galatians 6:7-8. So it is important to ask: what have you sown? What is germinating and growing under the frozen soil of your life? Have you sown seeds of joy in the Spirit or destructive seeds of selfishness and envy and lust? The time is certainly right to sow spiritual seeds now so that we can know the fruit of the Spirit of Christ in the future. I wonder what you are doing right now to cultivate joy, both in your own life and the lives of those around you.
Here is some good news: In Christ, seeds can be transformed. Jesus saw himself as a seed. He told His disciples, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:23-25). Jesus tells us that He is the kernel of seed, that when He went to the cross He was starting a transformation process. Once that seed germinated, grew and broke through the surface of the soil, His death would bring life. Your life in His hands is exactly the same. Everything you keep tight in your fist will remain
So, there’s a tractor inside the church right now. (No kidding!) One red tractor. It stands as a symbol of breaking the soil and planting the seed. It is a reminder that we are those who sow, and we should sow to the Spirit for fruits of joy in Christ. It is
The curse in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia was that it was always winter and never Christmas. It was a land always frozen, always waiting, and never reaching the celebration. Christmas is an interruption of hopelessness, an interruption of God’s own making. It stops our striving in its tracks. It puts the brakes on all our rushing and racing. It says, “Wait! Stop! Look! Here it is! Here it breaks out! Life is breaking up from the frozen soil! Good news! Great joy! All people! To you, Jesus Christ is born a Savior!” Now is the time to celebrate.