It is extremely difficult to get away from the busyness and commerce of the holiday season. We’d have to live like monks or like the Amish. The best we can do is to focus on the important stuff the church celebrates so that, in at least one community, we are not bowing to the culture. The church has got to be the place where Jesus is the heart of the holidays. We can’t expect that from anywhere else.
Folks at Scum have reminded me what the holidays really mean because they lack the ecclesiastical baggage I carry. For example, over the years they have wanted to do a liturgical Christmas Eve service. I never would have thought of that for us, but to them it marked a reverence that was genuine. The services are beautiful and powerful, and we’ve added a twist with original poetry from the people at Scum of the Earth along with hymns, responsive readings, and various Scripture readings. This year will be no different, as it’s now become a seasonal tradition for us; but that’s okay because whatever happens will be from hearts that seek to glorify God.
If someone says, “Don’t forget the meaning of the holidays,” (or, “Keep Christ in Christmas!) my initial reaction is to take the opposite side and argue for the spirit of the holidays to be an everyday thing. (Keep Jesus in each mundane, non-holiday date on the calendar.) But people find purpose and grace in the holidays. Christmas and Thanksgiving are about taking time out to celebrate God’s goodness to us. In one sense, we shouldn’t have to set aside special times during the year—we should always be grateful and mindful of everything that God has done for us by sending Christ—but that’s simply not the case, so we mark our calendars to remember.
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another person considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord…
(Romans 14:5 -6)
My advice for celebrating the holidays is to do so in the context of community. Celebrate with your family of origin, with your church family, with your group of friends, and with other families who may invite you into their spheres. But the holidays should be a time of service and ministry as well. Married folks are tempted to provide only for themselves and their children, but they have the ability to open their families to others (and thus be an example to their children that it’s not all about them). Singles are free in this instance to serve the Lord without restriction (St. Paul was right when he wrote about this in 1Corinthians 7). Singles can visit a forgotten person in a nursing home on Christmas morning or serve a meal to homeless folks at Thanksgiving without fear of neglecting someone else. Jesus would be doing all these kinds of things. Seems that at every Jewish holiday we read about Him doing something for somebody. The community of Christ should be no different during our holidays.
Glory to God in the Highest,