Believe it or not, as I sit here with Brent & Herbie calling the action from Pasadena, with a 'roasty-toasty (Erin's phrase)' fire crackling in the fireplace (as if it would be anywhere else) heating up our home on this, for us, bitterly cold evening, my mind has gone to how we can learn a lot about our calling as people who are to spread hope to the world by personifying the love of God that manifested itself in Jesus Christ and is sustained to this day by the power of the Holy Spirit.

For those of us who don't have a (Bull)dog (or Tiger) in the fight, other than passing interest as fans of college football or partisans of a particular conference, we really don't care much at all about this game. If our beloved team was involved, we might, if we had the means, make the pilgrimage to the west coast to take in the game, or, at a minimum, have a get-together with some fellow partisans at the house to cheer on our team. It is amazing, isn't it, for many of us, when LSU plays in this game, how passionately consumed we are on this night. Florida State-Auburn, eh.

Likewise, we've got a pretty good chance at setting a record-low temperature tonight. Routinely, it is this cold at other places in the world on a daily basis, year in and year out, and we really don't care because it doesn't affect us. However, when it hits our back door, we belly-ache with the best of 'em. (Trust me, I did my fair share of whining today - just ask Jeff Hogg, who was in the same boat as me.)

My question, looking at the picture above, is simply this: As people of God, as those who have awakened to the grace of God that is at work in all of humanity, and responding to that grace that we have been awakened to within us, are we truly being faithful to our command to spread the Good News to 'all the earth' when we focus simply on that which is nearest to us (either in proximity or in passion?)

Now, let me be clear - I'm in NO WAY equating our mandate to make disciples of all nations with our response to a football game or a weather system.

What I am saying, however, is let us realize that while we have the luxury of caring about a game only when our team is one of the participants, and while we have the luxury of caring about bitterly cold weather only when it hits our back door, as people of the Christ child, we do not have the luxury of caring only about that which is directly impacting us here and now.

Who and what do we need to be more intentional about because they only capture our attention when they are directly and noticeably impacting our lives? Do we have a big enough worldview to realize that who we are and what we do impacts more than we can see directly in front of us?

One of the great things I love about being a part of a connectional movement like The United Methodist Church is that we work and serve in partnership with one another, and through our shared ministries we impact lives far beyond the limited perspective of our local church. For the first time in our congregation's history, we paid out 100% of our financial opportunities for mission (our apportionments) for two consecutive years. As I spoke to our District Superintendent, Rev. Hadley Edwards, today as he was thanking me for our faithfulness to our district and conference apportionments, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for our opportunity to support missions and ministry that are far beyond our limited scope here and now.

We don't have to care about the football game. We don't have to care about the weather.

We do have to care about each and every person in our lives and in the world, for that is what God is doing through his Son, Christ our Lord, whose birth we just spent the past twelve days celebrating.

Grace and Peace, Lamar