Does your church make a big deal of Christmas? Celebrate Advent? Fill shoe boxes? Pull out all the stops in promoting an offering for missions?
When I was a boy, Christmas was a time for the choir to learn and perform a new cantata, often by John W. Peterson (whose music company now boasts 18 Christmas selections). Youth choir members were often recruited to join the adult choir in practicing and singing these Christmas creations and/or collections with titles like “Down from His Glory” and “Night of Miracles.”
It was fun, as I recall. A lot of work, but fun. Ladies in the church would always decorate the sanctuary with greenery and tons of poinsettias (donors listed in the bulletin), while a committee of men would erect the a life-sized nativity beneath a big tree out front. When the appointed hour arrived, we’d sing our hearts out, people in the the congregation would always say nice things, and sometimes there were cookies afterward.
I served five different churches as pastor, and they all celebrated Christmas in different ways, whether with a dusty cantata, or a pull-out-all-the-stops Lottie Moon Christmas Offering drive, a liturgical observance of Advent, or a big Christmas Eve service.
Baptists haven’t always been such fans of the holiday. Indeed, as Bruce Gourley points out in this month’s issue of Baptist History and Heritage, 18th century Baptists refused to celebrate Christmas, considering it to be “worldly and popish.” In a delightful and informative article, Gourley traces the gradual acceptance of Christmas among Baptists, with the advent of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering providing the final mark of legitimacy for the holiday season. In your mind, does the impact of Christmas celebrations make church more meaningful to you this time of year, or do you worry that we’ve gone too far?
Now that we’ve gotten the comments section working here, I think it would be delightful if readers would post comments to share some of your thoughts about unique or particularly meaningful ways in which your church celebrates Christmas.
Have at it!