The First Small Group Christmas Party

Carole Arnouts emailed this to me (thanks, Carole) and I thought you'd enjoy it as well.

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Small Group Fellowship
By John Fischer

It occurs to me that the first fellowship group around Christ is probably represented somewhere in your house right now. It has some common shepherds in peasant’s clothes, three princes in royal robes, a man and a woman holding a newborn baby, and a random assortment of farm animals seeking shelter in a run-down barn.

That these figures represent two different visits roughly two years apart in two different locations isn’t a concern for today’s reflections. Taken together, they constitute the first welcoming committee and, in a way, the first small group brought together by Jesus. They are the only people we know about, aside from Mary and Joseph, who had any clue what was going on with this miraculous birth. An angel had told the shepherds; the magi had deduced it from the stars.

They represented most likely Jews and Arabs, perhaps multiple races, a broad social class division, different nationalities and religions, and a large gap in intellectual knowledge. And there they were gathered around Jesus, and the one thing they had in common was that they were invited. They all heard from God. They were hand picked for the occasion. I wonder if you could call this the first small group fellowship.

Given that it was the first fellowship group, what do you suppose they talked about? I can imagine they talked about how they got there – what the angel said, how the stars were positioned in the sky, what the ancient books of knowledge indicated, or how their ears were still ringing from the angelic choir. They must have heard some of the story from Mary and Joseph and they would have been trying to put all the pieces together, while still left with plenty of pieces that didn’t fit. But most of all, I believe they were filled with wonder over why they were there and not someone else.

Today, we’re still gathering together around Jesus. We’re amazed that he invited us. We’re telling stories about how we came to know about him, and we’re talking a lot about how our lives have never been the same since. We’ve been thrown together from all walks of life with one thing in common. We, too, don’t have all the pieces together, but we are most amazed that among all the people in the world, he would choose us.

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