From the pastor…
It seems an irony to me that all of America goes gaga over Christmas, but Christians, who have an understandable sense of ownership over the holiday, seem only to grumble that the big deal isn’t doing justice to the holiday. When I was a youth leader in the 90’s I had a December event that I called the Xmas X Games, a clever play on the nickname for Christmas, I thought. The pastor called me into his office to tell me to rename the event because he had received several complaints that I was promoting taking Christ out of Christmas. Xmas would not fly in his parish. Boycotts of Walmart have sprung up over the years because the greeters are saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas and Starbucks because their holiday cups aren’t bearing the message of Christmas appropriately.
The national conversations that happen around this could be helpful. They might remind people that what we are celebrating in Christmas is Christ. I worry though it just makes us sound cranky. It even might confirm to people who don’t worship the God we know that that God is kind of cranky, too. I can imagine non Christians saying with exasperation, “Here, I am celebrating their holiday and they still aren’t happy.” Simply insisting that people remember that the birth of Christ is what we are celebrating doesn’t do a lot to help people understand who Jesus is, what Jesus promises, and how our lives have been changed by Jesus.
What would? Possibly inviting our friends, coworkers and family to church. Most of them likely love Christmas but are not so sure about loving the church who centers their life all year around Christ. At Messiah every week in December we are celebrating the hopefulness and promise of Jesus. See the article below about our special Advent worship, but our events throughout the week do the same thing. We are working with HEART and Church of the Redeemer to give toys away to families in Reynoldsburg, because our God, who comes to us in Jesus, is generous and calls us to be generous. Similarly, we are working with Joseph’s Coat and St. Pius X to bake and sell cookies so that Joseph’s Coat thrives in 2018. Joseph’s Coat ministry is dedicated to giving stuff away for free in response to God’s promise of grace in Jesus which is similarly freely given. Even Breakfast with Santa shares the love of Jesus at the center of Christmas in the crafts and the story from Mrs. Claus that highlight the event.
Walmart isn’t responsible for telling the story of Jesus. We are. It seems like a better plan that we do that by welcoming and inviting our neighbors to learn, love and worship God, than to be national scolds about the holiday that many who could care less about Jesus still love. Why not invite a few of those people you know to attend something at Messiah this December. It will likely bring them closer to loving God than a guy with blue vest saying Merry Christmas when he hands them a cart. Peace, Pastor Karl