I read recently where someone said Christmas brings out the “weird” in all of us: it’s the only time of the year where families gather around a dead tree and eat candy out of their socks!
We do have some peculiar “traditions” associated with the holy-day we call Christmas. It’s funny how a simple celebration of the birth of a baby 2,000 years ago can make us do such strange things. Like decorating our homes with fake icicle lights, hanging old socks on our chimneys or eating fruit cake. Indeed, so much of our Christmas celebration is wrapped up in tradition.
Since I serve a less-than-traditional church like Shelby Crossings, I’ve been asked more than once “How does a ‘contemporary’ church celebrate such a ‘traditional’ holiday as Christmas?” Truly, it is a delicate balance. But rather than defining what we do by such labels, our key concern is to be “real” (and most of us do live in a contemporary world after all). The bigger question is, how can we cut through all the stuff that comes with our 21st century Christmas and celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world in a real way?
We can do that with age-old carols that bring back special memories of Christmas’s past. We can do that with new songs that point to the freshness of God’s gifts to us each and every day. We can read His word for real-life truth for our real-life lives—such as how the “good tidings of great joy” and the “peace on earth” apply to where we live today We can cling to the hope of Christmas future, because of the hope brought to us in Christmas past. And we can do our best to move past the cliches and focus on what the season is all about–the incarnation of Emmanuel, God with us, in the person of Jesus, the babe born in a Bethlehem manger so long ago.
We tried to do all of those things in our churchwide Christmas celebration last Sunday night. And this Sunday, we will gather once again as a community of faith to celebrate a real Jesus–the baby born, the man who lived, the Savior who died on the cross for us–and the real joy that is promised to those who know Him. Whether it be contemporary or traditional, may our expressions of worship be not unlike those wise men of old, who, when they saw the babe, spontaneously knelt and worshiped Him. That would be the greatest birthday gift we could ever give Jesus this Christmas.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday as we gather in Jesus’ name for a special Advent celebration of worship. O come let us adore Him…Christ the Lord!