Time has an article on how most Christians no longer (if they ever did) go to church on Christmas Day. Every pastor knows it’s true. And I doubt there’s anything to be done about it, except call people to repent of their family idolatry and return to the true worship in the presence of the Holy Family.
Do people really think that Christ will be content to be one thing among many, one element in our Christmas traditions?
Some pastors understand the cultural emphasis but consider it an obstacle to focusing on the spiritual messages of Christmas. “We’ve seen churches embrace the Americana idea of Christmas,” says Michael Hidalgo, lead pastor at the multi-denominational Denver Community Church. “Their heart is in the right place, but in some ways they end up looking like Target celebrating Christmas.” Others, though, have accepted the idea that Christmas Day is a time for family instead of religious reflection. “I think it is our job to get Christmas off on the right foot and then get out of the way,” wrote one pastor at CreativeWorshipTour.com, in a discussion about Christmas services. “Let families celebrate by themselves.”
Families that “celebrate” “by themselves” can also go to hell by themselves. Family is meaningless if a family does not receive Christ’s gifts together and worship together. You aren’t going to have your family around you when you stand in the Judgment. It’s idolatry, plain and simple, and pastors who allow their people to worship idols without comment are condoning idolatry.
…the more I dislike christmas. I don’t mean Christmas itself–Advent longing, candle-lit Eves, and dark and starry holiness still take me back to a childhood when there was at least a semblance of hope, and joy, and peace. (Nostalgia never works for long, I know.) But I am more and more simply annoyed with the sort of shabbiness of it all: the stupid christmas muzak piped in to every mall and grocery store; the false and plastic smiles and greetings from clerks as they take your money; the simple emptiness of claiming that this or that is the “reason” for the season–family, love, or whatever other banal substitution for Christ we can make. (By the way, isn’t it great that Planned (Obsolescence of) Parenthood now offers gift certificates? As National Review put it: what an excellent way to celebrate the unplanned birth of Christ!)
It tires me out, and being a pastor can make it worse, since I have no time to soak up the preaching and the gifts of Christ. I need to learn to appreciate the time of meditation spent learning my sermons, but that will come slowly. In the meantime, I’ve got forced-cheery “tradition” attempting to take substance’s place, and it begins to wear after a while.
On the other hand, God the Son was still born, still lived, still died, and is still alive in the flesh (literally), and He still gives His own Body and Blood to replace my tired body and blood. I, too, will be raised from the dead one day. Then, whatever hints of holiness are scattered throughout our bastardization of the holy-days will find even their fulfillment. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!