Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Don't skip Christmas

We are in the thick of the Christmas season. If you are like my family, by now you are beginning to feel the drain this time of year can put on you. As of this mid-December writing, we have almost finished our Christmas shopping, decorated our home, took the kids for Christmas portraits, attended three and missed one Christmas party, organized and hosted our daughter’s birthday party, preached three Christmas sermons, planned the rest of the advent services, and sang many Christmas songs.

I am sure your schedule looks very similar this Christmas. Perhaps we should all take the time to earnestly pray for one another, that the whole meaning and reason for all of this was because God became man. I know we get reminders of this from church and sometimes from television, but we need to remember it in our hearts.

Back in 2004, the Crossroads Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky decided to skip Christmas. They weren’t suggesting bailing out on the celebration altogether, just the bad parts: The stress. Spending money you can't afford to spend. The huge crowds.

"We want to encourage people not to get so caught up in the trappings of the season that they miss the heart of what Christmas is about," said Fred Turner, a minister at the church. "We are not calling for people not to buy presents or put up trees, but we are trying to turn the focus on the things that matter."

He said the church got the idea from John Grisham's newest book, "Skipping Christmas.” The story is about Luther Krank, who is sick of the high costs of Christmas, and persuades his wife to skip the holiday and spend the money on a cruise. But when his Peace Corps-bound daughter decides to come home for Christmas, he goes into a frenzy of preparations.

So how did it turn out for that Kentucky church? I’m not sure, but if you look at their church website, you see the normal church Christmas information, and no evidence that Christmas has been scaled back in 2007. The website they set up in 2004 called skipchristmas is not functioning anymore, and Fred Turner who came up with the idea is no longer listed as a minister at the church.

Maybe we’re not ready to skip Christmas. Maybe instead of skipping it, we should embrace it. Maybe we should really go all out. Go ahead and put more icicle lights on your house, go ahead and wear red and green together all month, go ahead and make pictures with Santa. However, instead of doing it out of obligation, do it out of celebration.

Perhaps it will take some patience. Perhaps it might take some Tylenol. Perhaps it might take some extra effort on your part, but in doing all of the things that make Christmas both wonderful and harried, if we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are a witness to the world.
When else during the year do you get to boldly proclaim your faith without worrying about what others think of you. If you go around in July singing, “Jesus loves me” your co-workers and schoolmates may think you are a little nuts, but go around anytime of year and sing “O Come All Ye Faithful” and they think you are just in the Christmas Spirit.

So this year, it may take some work to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but it’s worth the effort.

Many laughed to see this alteration in him, but he let them laugh and little heeded them. His own heart laughed and that was quite enough for him. And it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge.

Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a little confused about a born again Christian pastor displaying his zodiak sign and astrological year on a website. There are warnings about staying away from such things and having nothing to do with them in the pastor's favorite book. Please reconsider displaying that info. It could cause a brother to stumble. Respectfully, someone who cares.