christmas time is here

it’s four days after christmas, so i bet why you are wondering why i am talking about how christmastime is here and now…

well, it’s because the church season of christmas starts with christmas, even though the rest of the world finishes the christmas season with a bang (in the form of presents being opened) on christmas.

throughout the past few weeks, i’ve been struggling with the tension felt between secular christmas and religious christmas. the stores had christmas decorations out in early october, the hallmark channel has been playing christmas movies since early november, and all through december you could hear random christmas music being played on radio stations.

even though the 12 days of christmas technically start with christmas day, we have switched over to having two months of christmas that end on december 25.

and i don’t think i like it.

this tension was a big challenge for me this year as a new pastor. i mean, i love the advent season where we count down to christmas and we anticipate what is coming, but it was a big challenge. and i mean big. i attended 5 christmas parties hosted by church ladies, hosted two christmas parties/open houses, and saw 4 christmas concerts/programs. and i missed a couple other events.

i was tired of celebrating christmas before christmas even arrived.

and so when it finally got to christmas eve, i was looking forward to slowing down after the holiday. i survived three christmas eve services (and learned that having a 4:00 service is just too early to have a candlelight service since it’s still light out at 5:00) and one christmas morning service.

i was happy to have my family around for the festivities, but hosting christmas brings its own struggles of making sure everyone is taken care of while they are at my home. this was the first time that i had people around all weekend as i came and went to various services, which was great because i love having people around but frustrating because i had become accustomed to arriving home to peace and quiet after socializing at church. i didn’t get my typical nap on sunday after church but i did get my fill of quality time with parents and sisters and niece. and i’ll take whatever time i get with my family.

i began to realize why i prefer the lent/easter season instead of advent/christmas:
– our culture isn’t consumed by easter fever or frenzied to get presents in the same way
– lent is much more somber as we prepare not for the birth but the death and resurrection of Jesus
– we are well aware that easter begins with easter, unlike the confusion of when christmas ought to begin/end
– lent/easter are still intensely christian holidays with an intentional focus on the person of Christ whereas christmas has become coopted by the secular world with its focus on santa and the “christmas spirit”

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