By Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline
I have a Christmas conundrum. I don’t know how to hit the sweet spot for the Christmas spirit.
Something that may be abundantly obvious is that pastors think about Christmas before anyone else thinks about Christmas. You know those people who put up their Christmas lights the day after Halloween and then you think, “Jumping the gun a bit, eh?” Which is a phenomenon I just learned is called “Christmas creep” . We start before that. . .
In the first few years of my career, I jumped right into the holiday spirit, and then by the time Christmas rolled around I was all Christmassed (Christmasd?) out. Not that I skipped Christmas, but rather that I just kind of exhausted my Christmas fuel before the day hit.
So I made a conscious decision to parcel out my Christmas experience in the hopes that by the time Christmas rolls around, I’m full speed ahead. But I mostly just overcorrect and then get completely surprised by the time Christmas hits.
I’m going out of town next week, and preaching the following Sunday, so I started writing my sermon for December 19th today. Now I’m sitting here thinking that it’s already the fourth Sunday of Advent and I’m freaking out because I’m not ready for the big day.
I’m going to try to hit the sweet spot this year.
Christmas music started at the appropriate time. Lights went up at the moment they should have. We went to the lights show at Olin Park recently.
But I’m still worried that I’m missing something. I feel like this year I’m both too late, and too early. Maybe that means that I’m doing it right?
But here we are right after the second Sunday of Advent.
I hope you’ve been finding the ways to jump into the Christmas spirit. What do you do to get into the spirit? For me, it’s very much getting the lights out and the music started, but I’m thinking there are other mood setters that are less obvious. I definitely need some eggnog. I want to bake some Christmas cookies. I want to go to the zoo lights. I want to watch Muppet Christmas Carol.
We have under three weeks left before the big day, and I think I’ve got the time to squeeze those things in.
I feel like I rhetorically lean too heavily on the fact that Advent is a time of waiting. I say it all the time, write about it all the time, use it in my prayers, and in my devotions. But that’s because it’s true! It is a time of waiting. And it is a time of preparation. I’m going to keep saying it until we have waiting coming out of our ears.
So I’m going to ask this again, what do you do to get into the Christmas spirit?
Church is a big one for me. Lighting the candles is such a precious moment. Singing the advent hymns draws me close. Seeing the lights, the greens, the trees around the church are a constant reminder. Reading the familiar Bible passages and feeling the anticipation that is so palpable in the build up to Jesus’ birth. The angels, the shepherds, the wise men, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth. All of it transports me to a special place that gives me goosebumps of excitement and a wash of warm comfort. Just writing this blog is making me feel more prepared for Christmas.
Some of the things I need to get ready have nothing to do with the nativity, and those things help me feel that holiday joy, the festivities of the season. But the things that have to do with the birth of Jesus? Those things still my heart to make my wait something precious.
So do your Christmas things! Get your plums sugared, and your candies caned, and your eggs nogged.
But take a moment. Close your eyes. Feel the quiet and beauty of God breaking into the world.
Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline