Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Pastoral Concern -- Keeping focused on Christmas

It is the season for some Christians to get bothered that our nation is not living up to or promoting the meaning of Christmas.  Do not get swept up by this.  It is not our nation's job to do this.

The stores have had the Christmas decorations out for over a month now.  Every store is going to do what it can to make a buck as Christmas approaches.  Please understand this: That is what stores want to do--make a buck.  They would have Dairy Month sales if they thought they could cash in on it.  Do not expect the stores to uphold the meaning of Christmas.  That is not their business.

You may want to hear radio stations play Christmas music or to have TV channels play Christmas specials and movies to get you in the holiday spirit.  And some will.  But do not expect them to preach the gospel or to proclaim the incarnation of our Lord.  Radio and TV are here to entertain you.  If the Christmas story entertains you, they will play it.  When people tire of the Christmas story, they will find something else to entertain them.  Radio and TV are only entertainment.  Do not expect radio and TV to uphold the meaning of Christmas.  That is not their business.

You can also expect that some group(s) will be in their war on Christmas.  Do not get bothered by this.  There will always be people who hate Jesus.  And therefore, there will always be people who have no use for Christmas.  While vocal, they are mostly small in number.  And they cannot invade your home or your heart.  They are not your problem.

And do not mistake the nostalgic and the fun things about the Christmas season with Christmas itself.  Even atheists can decorate trees, give gifts, frost cookies, and sing.  Those are nice.  Everyone enjoys them.  But you don't need the Church for any of it; and none of it saves you.  These are fun distractions, but these are distractions nonetheless.  They are not Christmas.

If you want to find the "Christmas spirit," there is only one place to be, and that is where Jesus Christ is found.  He who became incarnate still comes veiled in earthly things.  He comes to you in a preached word and administered sacraments.  That is where he reveals his glory to you.  That is how he imparts his gifts to you.  That is why coming to Church is the only activity that makes Christmas. 

So don't worry or complain that various parts of society are not living up to your idea of what Christmas is about or what Christmas ought to be.  Do not turn to society to feed your faith.  Only Jesus does that.  He is proclaimed in the Gospel.  His body and blood are administered at the altar of God's church.  His name is placed on you in baptism and again in the benediction.  That is precisely what the Church is designed to do.  So if that is what you seek, then come to church.

Advent Vespers are Wednesdays at 7:00 PM. (December 11,18)
Divine Services are Sundays at 10:00 AM.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service is December 24 at 7:00 PM.
Christmas Day Festival Service is December 25 at 10:00 AM.

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