Let me ask you something. How do you balance the many expectations of church and family during the holidays? It can be one of trickiest and most stressful times of any year. Suggestion: Keep everything in perspective.
I don’t remember the author, but someone wrote, “Christmas, after all, should be a time of warmth and celebration. A blazing fireplace, a brightly lighted tree, the sense of families drawing closer, the shining smiles of eager youngsters … but ironically, this joyous season often becomes a time of stress and dread for many.” Why? Because we lose perspective.
Christmas — when put into proper perspective — is a celebration of life for God’s people, a time of rejoicing and praise. We can celebrate because our Savior has come, and with Him have come freedom, hope, and peace for us all. When we lose perspective, this truth is muted.
I challenge you, my colleague, to put it all in perspective for your people this coming Advent Sunday. We are often frustrated because we take our eyes off the central figure and simply concentrate on the pageantry.
“Yet to all who received him [Jesus] … who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Now that’s perspective!
Perhaps the most complete and appropriate perspective of the season was held by the angels who visited the shepherds on that initial Christmas night. The first angel proclaimed, “I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody” (Luke 2:10, MSG). The heavenly messenger was, of course, talking about the arrival of the Christ child. It was truly a “great and joyful event.” My question to you: Are you having any fun? Is your Christmas season filled, as it should be, with joy?
Those of us in the clergy all know that, for many of the people we serve, the Advent season is not especially meaningful, much less joyful. How can we ourselves be convinced, and help our congregations see more clearly, that this beautiful event is meant for everybody, as the angel indicated?
- Keep reminding them of the true meaning of the season.
- Discourage materialism.
- Encourage them to be involved in assisting others less fortunate.
- Practice peace — especially in the home.
- Use Christmas to establish new family traditions.
- Make worship during the Advent season a priority.
- Read the Christmas story from various translations for devotions.
- Pick one or two people as targets for friendship evangelism.
- Pray over every Christmas card given or received.
I know the ideas I suggest here are not profound, but they do offer handles for all of us to use as we observe this great and joyful event. Add your own ideas to these. And please keep and pass on the proper holiday perspective. “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).