The following is a guest blog from my wife, who like usual, doesn’t beat around the bush. She explores some of her feelings about how we as a society celebrate Christmas.
This Christmas time I have a profound sense of gloom regarding the Message of Christmas. Particularly, the proclamation of it.
Perhaps it is because, for the first time in many years, I haven’t told a child (or several hundred children) the story of Jesus’ birth. Or it could be because I tried, unsuccessfully, to find a new home for my huge stash of nativity costumes and props. Nobody does Nativity plays with the Sunday school kids anymore.
Or maybe it was friends telling me about their church’s children’s service, or the friends and neighbours’ Christmas service- all taking place weeks, if not more than a month before the 25th of December.
Or the depressing trips to the shopping malls, where I hear lots of Carols proclaiming the Good News, but nobody’s listening. It has just become seasonal background noise.
So what will the Church of our Messiah, who was born at Christmas, be doing on Christmas morning?
Celebrating? Families will unwrapping presents, stressing about food preparation, and steeling themselves for that afternoon they must spend with relatives they don’t like. Children will be overwhelmed by gifts that will be broken or discarded by the end of the year.
Worshipping? Most churches have a service. It’s earlier, shorter, and attended by the few poor souls who don’t have pressing family commitments. Where possible, the senior pastor has given the job of delivering the message to the idiot who first asked “Are we having a service on Christmas Day?” Nobody stays for coffee afterwards, because everyone needs to be somewhere else.
Ignoring the whole thing? Yep, there are plenty of Christians who shun Christmas altogether. The anti-Christmas brigade, I call them.
In my ideal world I would have Jesus’ Church celebrate His birth on the day that history has recognised for centuries. Whether it is the exact day or not is irrelevant.
Children, in full costume, would tell the story before a packed house; choirs would sing carols; pastors preach their best sermon; the choicest and sweetest treats shared for morning tea, over which people would linger until it became lunch.
This day would be eagerly anticipated and planned for months.
And the world would know what is most special for Christians at Christmas.