Rushing Christmas

December 5th, 2018

What to do when your church doesn’t want to celebrate Advent? When they rush into Christmas?

Let me answer that question by posing another one. Spoiler alert: this is a curmudgeonly response.

Here’s my question: Is it really so bad to sing Christmas Carols for a whole month? After all, it’s one time of year that people are truly into a holiday. Why make them hold off? There’s something a bit perverse about making people wait to express joyousness, to feel good about life, to bask in wonderful memories and to create new ones.

Maybe rushing into Christmas isn’t such a bad thing. Even the Sundays in Lent, throughout the whole seven weeks of repentance, are not for mourning; they’re mini-Easters. Let’s remember that Advent and Christmas, while reflective of biblical themes, aren’t exactly biblical. Jesus never commemorated either one.

So here’s what I have come to believe: If holding off on singing Christmas carols contributes to the spiritual life of you and your people, go for it. If it doesn’t seem to, maybe it’s time to strike a compromise. There are bigger mountains to die on than what hymns are sung.

Yes, highlight an Advent hymn or two each Sunday, but let the sounds of Christmas seep into your worship service. Set the doxology to the music of Christmas carols. Or try this: before you sing a Christmas carol, set the context that it’s a sneak preview of what is to come.

As for me, I’m with those ready to embrace good news now — with profligate abandon. I know this flouts tradition, but why not rush headlong into peace, joy, love and goodwill? And do it a whole four weeks early, as though Christ has already been born and lives among us. Because in a world that knows its share of bad news, it’s good to remember that, after all, he does.

In the meantime, if conflict around worship and other ministry matters are draining you, I invite you to join me for a four-hour online workshop called Mastering Conflict. You’ll learn how to interrupt knee-jerk reactions that don’t get you anywhere, and instead, how to approach conflict productively.

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