Monday, December 17, 2007


Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck, reporting:

Christmas should always be a special time. Of course, it’s not for everyone. I know all too well that Christmas can be a painful season for the lonely, the discouraged and for the depressed. Here in Washington I make an extra effort to reach out to the homeless, most of whom are mentally ill. Let’s all say prayers for these needy souls and do what we can to help them in practical ways. But for most, Christmas is a season for celebration and a festive time with family and friends. For true believers it’s an occasion for worship.

(For my brother, Paul, and me and our families, our Christmas this year will be saddened only by the departure of a dear, dear friend and Faith and Action supporter, the Reverend Dr. Samuel Farina of the incomparable Christian Assembly, one of Columbus, Ohio’s truly great churches. Sam and his wife, Paulette, and their entire church family have always been so gracious to us. Sam stuck with me through thick and thin, always a wise voice and kind heart, even during our most difficult days. Sam went home to heaven this week after a protracted illness. His life-long Addison’s disease rendered him incapable of fighting multiple infections. Sam’s a great gain for heaven, but a huge loss here on earth!)

Christmas has historically been one of the two high points on the Christian calendar. The other, of course, is Easter. These are the two anchors of our faith: Christmas marks the arrival, or Advent, of Immanuel—God with Us—our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The other anchor, Easter, marks the Resurrection, without which Saint Paul says our “faith is in vain.” In many ways I think of Christmas as 50% of the Christian Gospel. (The other half comes in the Resurrection!) That makes both seasons pretty important. It’s between Christmas and Easter we live out all the implications of these two cardinal doctrines: The arrival of Christ and His Resurrection.

Think about it: What does the world need most? God and Hope. Christmas is God, Easter is Hope! Many think God has forgotten them, or that He is inaccessible, uncaring or unknowable. They long for contact with something larger, deeper and more powerful than themselves. We all desire to connect with the transcendent. It’s a primordial need to link back to The Creator. Christmas is the announcement of that longed-for reunion!

“Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

This Christmas I pray you and yours will know and celebrate this Great Joy. If you do not know the Savior, this is a wonderful season to call out to Him in repentance. To repent means to turn—turn away from our own devices and towards the God who made us and loves us. God has a plan, a purpose and a design for your life, both in the here and now and beyond into eternity. Our greatest happiness comes when we embrace His will for our lives. This is why Jesus Himself taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus took his own advice when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39) Here’s to making this Christmas about more than just good food, fellowship and gift-giving. It’s about surrender to the will and plan of God for our lives!

While we’re on Christmas, our ever-busy partner Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, spent this weekend in New York City where he set up the only approved Nativity Scene on public property—in the middle of Times Square! Maybe you saw it on one of the network news shows. We’ve joined with Rev. Mahoney in his Nativity Project, encouraging folks to obtain permits for Christmas displays in public spaces. We’ve also partnered with another friend of many years, Dr. Charles Nestor, who’s spearheading Operation Nativity, encouraging folks to display manger scenes on their own private property. These are easy, practical ways to bring Christ back into American Christmas observances, something badly needed!

And, speaking of bringing Christ back into Christmas, I had a talk with one of my covert accessories to ministry here in Washington. (We work with many people whose jobs are so sensitive, we keep their identities anonymous.) He’s a relatively new Christian and he expressed his growing distress over the utter commercialization of this season. He urged me to pray about a movement that would take us back to a more simple time when Christmas was exactly that, Christ-mas. He’s right—even Christians have succumbed to a supplanting of the real focus of this Holy Day with a bottom-line, profit-driven, frenetic earth-bound extravaganza. Please pray with me about this. Perhaps the Lord will grant us insight into how we can pull our American civilization back from the brink of neo-paganism, starting with reclaiming Christmas from Kris Kringle and Santa Claus and giving it back to Jesus Christ!

This post would not be complete without thanking all those who are sending in generous end-of-year gifts to help us balance the books here at Faith and Action. We’re just $50,000 away from being in the black. Please help us end this year strong so we can enter ’08 ready to go. It’s going to be one of the most intense years we’ve spent here on Capitol Hill, and we can’t let red ink weaken us! (The best way for you to help is to make your tax-deductible gift online using a credit or debit card at our website, Otherwise, you can mail your check or money order to Faith and Action, 109 2nd St., NE, Washington, DC 20002. So long as it’s postmarked before December 31, you can deduct it from this year’s taxes!)

By the way, a huge heart-felt thanks to all our friends at the marvelous Believers Life Family Church of Gretna, Louisiana, on the West Bank of that storied city of New Orleans. Pastors Randy and Cathy Cilluffo always make me feel like family. They did again this weekend when I preached there. The church's over-the-top offering comes like manna from heaven to us at this time of the year. Thank YOU, one and all, for your wonderful Christmas gift to this ministry!

For now, I’ll leave you with my prayers for you and your family—that God will grant you a peaceful, joyous time for sharing His love with your loved ones. May you all enjoy a blessed Christ-mas and New Year filled with His hope!

Be back in ’08!


Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital
109 2nd St, NE
Washington, DC 20002