Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Celebrating the Season

I grew up in a church that was pretty conservative, even by church of Christ standards (at least modern day standards). We didn't clap after baptisms. We didn't raise hands during songs. And we definitely did not celebrate Christmas.

Don't get me wrong, we did exchange gifts and decorate our homes and sing "Jingle Bells" in the fellowship hall (after the "closing prayer", of course). But we never had a Christmas tree in the church building, and we never sang Christmas hymns like "Joy to the World" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" during the month of December. Instead, our song leader would pull out those old favorites in July.

In other words, we were all for honoring consumerism and getting days off from work and school and drinking unspiked eggnog. But somehow it was wrong to celebrate our Savior's birth at Christmas.

I'm really not sure why. I did have a Bible teacher at school who had all these facts and figures that supposedly proved that Jesus was born in September, not December. (He also insisted that Jesus did not drink WINE, but rather unfermented grape juice. But that's another story.) Even if Jesus was not born on December 25 or even during the month of December, what's so wrong about taking that time to celebrate his birth? After all, we still got out of school for Lincoln's birthday, even though the day it was observed and his actual birthday did not always coincide.

Perhaps the reason that we as a church did not celebrate Jesus' birth was because everyone else was. Even non-churchgoers took time to acknowledge this event. I watched "Days of Our Lives" as I grew up, and I remember that every year at Christmas the citizens of "Salem" would pause from their sleeping around and trying to figure out whether Stefano DiMera was alive or dead to
read the Christmas story. I remember Grandpa Horton reading from Luke 2 as everyone sat and listened. If even these fictional, messed up folks could take time out to stop and observe Jesus' birth, why couldn't we?

Many years later, I am thankful to be part of a congregation that does acknowlege and celebrate the birth of Jesus. We even have Christmas trees in the building and a Christmas play and everything. And yes, we do sing "Joy to the World" in December.

I am trying to do more to acknowledge the birth of Christ during the Christmas season. I'm challenging myself to do at least one thing every day between now and Christmas to pause and celebrate the season. This morning I listened to Christmas hymns. Tomorrow I may read Scripture relating to Jesus' birth, or I may just spend a few moments gazing at my Christmas tree.

Let me challenge you to also take time this season to really savor it. Whether you grew up in a church that had a full-tilt Christmas pageant every year, or one that did not utter the word "Christmas", let's all take time to remember the real "reason for the season." Of course, we can celebrate the incarnation of Jesus at any time during the year, but in this time where the entire world pauses to acknowledge it, why not join in?


That Girl said...

I'm all for the celebration.

DJG said...

Amen...in some ways we have progressed in others we are still woefully conservative...makes it hard when you feel that you are always bucking the system..

Snapshot said...

Girl, my childhood church didn't dare have a fellowship hall much less talk about the Savior being born around Christmas. I always was so confused by that. Funny thing is that the same people who wouldn't be caught dead putting up a manger scene in their front yard in December where all about putting up witches and vampires in October and dressing up as a devil and asking for candy from the neighbors. Hmmmm...
One time a preacher friend told a story about a little boy who asked "Why don't we celebrate Christmas as Christ's birth?" The wise adult told him all about those facts and figures regarding no one knows for sure when it was and we shouldn't celebrate one day over another, etc. The little boy said, "Well if everyone forgot my birthday or didn't know when it really was, I sure would want them to just pick a day and have a party anyway."

Lynn said...

WOW......I am right there with you on that memory lane. It makes me sad actually. We so missed the point on that one. So missed it. MERRY CHRISTmas.