- While emphasizing the second coming might have been appropriate in an age of Christendom, when preachers could take for granted that the vast majority of the public tied the holiday called “Christmas” to the holy day of the birth of Jesus, that is no longer the case. Now days, at least in the Northern Virginia region culture, preachers/churches have enough of a challenge tying what the wider culture celebrates as “the holidays” to the specific Christian holy day called “Christmas,” not to mention the challenge of reminding people (or informing them!) that the day called “Christmas” actually has religious roots/celebrates the birth of Jesus (i.e., is not just about Santa and gifts).
- It seems dowdy…frumpy…hopelessly out of touch with the people who are in our pews Sunday after Sunday to be crossing our arms and insisting on not hearing, in church (during the sermons at least), those wonderful pre-birth stories about Elizabeth’s and Mary’s pregnancies, Joseph’s doubts, the journey to Bethlehem, etc., and to insist on not signing “Christmas-anticipation” music in church until after the 25th of December, only allowing ourselves to pull these remarkable, powerful stories and hymns out of deep storage at the exact time when most of our supposedly less-enlightened congregation is sick to death of them, because they’ve been hearing them everywhere else. Since Halloween.
- Why, I’ve often wondered, is it that some churches, insisting as they do on a Pharisee-like strict observation of Advent, are the only people -- as Christians – NOT talking about Christmas and singing Christmas hymns, at the exact time when we have the culture’s fullest attention, and only allowing ourselves to tell these stories and sing these hymns after they’ve moved on?
How much more, then, is our anticipation of Christmas to be an occassion of joy.
So again, I think we need to be reminded:
“The angel did not say, ‘I bring you news of a teaching that I hope you can follow,’ or ‘I bring you news that Jesus is coming; and boy, is He mad!’ but no, the message was, ‘It's time to celebrate! God is doing what you couldn't. He is making a way where there was no way. You are being saved from the curse, rejection, shame, punishment, poverty, sickness; and from performance-based living. The door is being opened to eternal life; intimacy with the Father, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and so much more. It is incredible, joyous news!’”