“I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.” – John Wesley
I love my mother-in-law. That might seem like an odd transition, from John Wesley to Teresa Faust, but stay with me here. I love my mother-in-law. She has a great heart for her family. She strives to do what is right, earning her the nickname “Mother Teresa” from her children. She also loves other people well. Almost every time the family gathers, there is someone not related to them at the celebration. Usually, this person is someone from church or a co-worker. It is someone who needs the love of a family. Since we have a family, she believes that is the perfect place for them to be. There is a part of me that has always felt weird about this habit. Family gatherings are my chance to turn off the “pastor” part of me and relax, but having strangers around always leaves a sort of pressure to behave myself.
Recently though, I have discovered that I have been approaching these opportunities all wrong. As John Wesley shared above, every place we go is an opportunity to share the “glad tidings of salvation.” The people that my mother-in-law invites to Thanksgiving and Christmas are people who need to hear the Good News of the Gospel. My need for comfort has been ruining my opportunity to shine the light of Christ.
I share this personal anecdote because many of you are heading to family gatherings during this holiday season. Our families are often messy. Some of them may not know Jesus at all and others may say they do but look nothing like him. Either way, Wesley would see these gatherings as opportunities to shine the real light of Christ into our families. If all the world is our parish, our messy families are certainly part of that parish. Our family needs invited to meet Jesus too. Are we living an invitational life in those moments with our families?
What about our office parties? Friends’ Christmas parties? Christmas shopping? Are those places our parish? Wesley would say they are. Everywhere we go is a chance to invite someone to meet Jesus.
There are some easy practical ways to invite someone to meet Jesus. The easiest is to invite people to church.
“Hey, would you want to join me at church on Sunday? I can save you a seat right next to me.” We’ve also tried to help you with this invitation during Christmas season with some beautiful invite cards for the Longest Night and Christmas Eve services.
“Our church has a great Christmas Eve service that I think you would enjoy. Here are the times!”