I love Christmas. I love the joyful preparations and town wide decorations, both tasteful and tacky. I can’t help but smile at the Sponge Bob Santa, the Pooh Bear Santa, and all the goofy stuff that has nothing at all to do with Christ’s Mass but is still good fun. I love the quiet anticipation of Advent that calls me into a deeper contemplation that is adorned with Festivals of Lessons and Carols, Children’s Pageants, bell choirs and the Youth Group in the church kitchen preparing inedible stuff for sale. I even get sentimental over a few of the television rebroadcasts of old Christmas specials. I especially love it this year, my first Christmas in retirement, which means that I can sit back and really enjoy it. In fact, we are going to do the unheard of and go to New York to spend Christmas with one of our daughters and her family.
Of course the majority of Christmas preparations have nothing at all to do with Christ. But in every TV show, amateur Nutcracker, Mall display and non-stop holiday music on radio there is always the theme of “The Real Meaning of Christmas” that generally has to do with the fulfillment of real love and generosity. All of it reminds me of just how much people yearn for what only Christ can give, and though they may be looking in strange places, the truth is not far away. Although Christmas is not nearly as theologically important as Easter, it is still Christmas that gives us the greatest opportunity to open doors, and open them wide, so that those who are searching may find their heart’s desire within the worship of our congregations. But how will they know where to look if no one tells them. Rather than opening up a war with the secular holiday, we should be taking advantage of every opportunity to listen, engage, share and invite with plenty of Ho-Ho-Ho.