I can recall one year when I had been asked to preach on Christmas Sunday. Naturally, I went prepared to preach a Christmas sermon. But, I found to my dismay, that the church did little else to celebrate Christmas. Christmas was not mentioned in the prayer that was lifted up that morning. The songs we sang had nothing to do with Christmas, and if I had not preached a Christmas sermon, one would not know that it was, in fact, Christmas Sunday. However, I must admit that an announcement about caroling later in the week did make it into the service. But, that was it. The bottom line, Christmas Sunday was no different from any other Sunday.
I was so dumbfounded by that experience that I felt compelled to stand up before the congregation at the end of the service and admonish them for their failure to celebrate Christmas. That is something that I do not generally do, but I was so appalled by their lack of celebration that I could not help myself.
I find it ironic that we Christians claim the world is trying to secularize Christmas when we do something even worse – failing to celebrate the wondrous gift from God at all. The world, at least, seeks to retain Christmas. Our failure as Christians to even acknowledge Christmas will surely bring about its demise.
To keep Christmas special and to help people focus on the reason for the season, I recommend our churches institute Advent into the four services leading up to Christmas. With Advent, in each of the four weeks leading up to Christmas a Christmas reading is read, a Christmas candle is lit and a Christmas song is sung. Each reminds people of God’s gift and helps them focus on the upcoming celebration. Once a church begins participating in Advent activities, one will find it very difficult to forget why we celebrate Christmas. Although the first week of Advent has come and gone, it’s never too late to start. Until Christmas day has come and gone, it is never too late to start. For more information about Advent….just google “advent”…you’ll find a treasure trove of advent learning, readings and songs.