Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Day 24: On Being Clergy at Christmas
Sometimes it's not the easiest thing to be a pastor at Christmas. It's busy. It's a time of high expectations. People sometimes go to church at Christmas but no other time of the year so you can feel pressure to make sure you have something really meaningful to say that might possibly spark their interest to stop back before another 365 days go by. And I've always kind of wondered how the "one time a year folks" feel about hearing the same part of the Bible read and singing the same familiar songs all the time. And truth be told, at times it's hard to find a "fresh" word for this time of year. This is a story that has been told for over 2,000 years and countless books and commentaries and sermons have been written on the amazing and awe inspiring event of the birth of Christ. At times I wonder what in the world I could possibly have to say that would be meaningful to those who come to our church at Christmas. And this year there's a double whammy because Christmas eve is a Saturday and we have our regularly scheduled candlelight service which means that Christmas day is Sunday so we'll have our regularly scheduled Sunday worship service as well. Two sermons, back to back, on the most familiar aspects of the Christian faith. Yes, I'll admit to struggling a bit with my Christmas Day message. (Doug has Christmas Eve and we've had a few "discussions" about who is using which texts, themes, illustrations, etc!) But then as I sit here and ponder the days ahead, 3 full days til Christmas Eve to be exact, I realize that it's not really up to me to be dazzling because the fact that God came down from heaven above in the form of a baby, to be born into our world, to later grow up and bring us salvation is dazzling enough in and of itself. People come to church at Christmas because they like the "same old story." It's a story that does not grow old. It's a story that does not wear out. And it's God's story not mine. When I think about it in those terms, then I just feel lucky that I get the privilege of telling the story once again. And perhaps I'll tell it in some fresh ways, and perhaps I'l tell it in some ways that everyone has already heard but that doesn't really matter because what does matter is that the story gets told...over and over again. So while there is some stress in being a pastor at Christmas, mostly it's actually pretty great because we get to be among those chosen to tell the story this weekend. And people will come with eager anticipation to listen to what we have to say. May the glory of God shine through whatever words we use to tell God's amazing story of how he sent his Son into this world to show us how much he truly loves us.