I have been watching the eyes of my youngest son light up as the Christmas decorations have been going up this year. At my house I have put up enough outside Christmas decorations to compete with Clark Griswold, but I haven’t done this in the last 5 years. Why might you ask? Well my excuse for the last 5 years is that I have been busy.
In 2012 I started seminary and every lateNovember through early December my time was occupied with final exams and term papers. After I graduated in 2015 I was preparing for interviews for the ordination process in the Methodist Church where the papers are due in early December. This year was the first year in a while that I didn’t have something due in December. I no longer had an excuse and my youngest son (5) had not seen our house fully decorated outside, EVER. So this year I put up EVERYTHING and it was worth it to see my youngest’s eyes light up.
It seems that many of us have different feelings about this time of year. In one popular song we are told “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”, but not all of us feel that way, including Christians. Many of us have our wonder dimmed because of the over commercialization of Christmas. Some of us struggle to see the joy this time of year because of loss. A minister friend of mine recently posted online how he doesn’t enjoy this time of year because of the over commercialization of the holiday and is ready to tell people that. When I saw this I said to myself, “I hope this is not what he preaches to his congregation!” Not everybody understands what Christmas should mean, but that should not be a reason for us to be angry with the rest of the world. Do you know that the Grinch who stole Christmas never hated Christmas? Watch the animated movie again. He never hated Christmas, he hated people. A very large majority of Americans will celebrate Christmas but only a small fraction of them will attend a Christmas Eve service. Yes, they might not understand the true meaning of Christmas, but it is not their job to figure it out. It our job to lead them there. That is not going to happen if we don’t love people this time of year.
In the Wonder of Christmas, church-wide advent study, we will look to the Christmas story and the stories of real people today. We will rediscover that the true wonder of Christmas is found in the love of Christ and made real in our hearts when we share that love with others. Join us this Sunday as we discuss how the “Star” was a sign for all people that lead them to the true king. It is possible to ignore the signs, to be content with where we are, to be satisfied with what we have, and to think that more of the same is what we need when what we are longing for is something this world cannot provide.
In God’s grip,
Pastor Chuck Church