I find that Christmas provides a perfect opportunity for me to share my faith with others. A majority of Australians still identifying as Christians, according to the recent census. I have argued in previous years that any offence over Christmas carols or references to Jesus are usually taken on behalf of others who are not usually offended. We can overthink caution or aversion, but here’s three reasons why Christmas still matters and should be celebrated intentionally and positively.
1. Not all are open to a Christian faith, but many will be.
Of course, Christmas day was not always celebrated on December 25th. The concept of such a day came after the Christianisation of pagan festivals such as the Roman Saturnalia. Christmas trees, too, had ancient origins associated with the sort of idolatry condemned hundreds of years before Christ in Jeremiah 10:3-5.
The point here is, though, that society wants to celebrate Christmas and this gives Christians a great faith-sharing opportunity. Let’s embrace the fact that Christmas has long been associated with the birth of Christianity which shaped the foundations of our education, justice and health systems to help make us a great nation.
Christians once saw an opportunity to make Jesus the reason for the season and it is one that still exists today. Let’s not let individual indifferences by people in our sphere of influence stifle ongoing attempts to share the good news of Jesus with others who need to know Him.
2. Christmas helps us to focus our busyness on the right things.
There is much to be said for celebrating well, enjoying time with family and having fun at Christmas. No-one likes a Grinch. The issue here is one of balance, such as in making time for worship, for people in need, or for bringing friends to church who need to encounter Christ.
Christmas creates many opportunities to do good, but long-term benefits come when we choose the right ones. Values that help us to make a difference with our lives can be shaped very intentionally with the choices that are on offer right now.
For example, what are our financial priorities at the moment? Generosity can be demonstrated toward ourselves or our own families, but is it affordable and is there room to be generous to others, when needed? Are we spending within our means, or at the expense of other financial priorities that are also important for the long haul?
A simple fix may be to budget throughout the year for a Christmas fund. Consider what you can legitimately spend; spoil your family responsibly and consider the total amount allocated for gifts, food and decorations in light of other needs considered from an annual perspective. It actually helps you enjoy Christmas more!
3. Carols offer a great opportunity to showcase Jesus.
We have a chance to connect with people of all ages by using the sort of music they are open to hearing at this time of the year and that they associate with the mood of Christmas. Personal musical preferences are not therefore a dominant issue when it comes to considering their use.
If songs are performed badly, potential good can be undermined. Chart-bound musicians or vocalists with negative or wooden body language can inadvertently compromise the joy associated with the message of Christ’s coming. What is supposed to be good news then becomes a turn-off.
Why not use carols creatively and with energy and passion? This happens much more easily when they are learned well, maybe one per month for one year. After all, they will be used more than almost any song in a musician’s life because of their sustainable longevity.
Whether it is a public carols event with fireworks, an approved shopping centre performance, a quality indoor Church service, or a program in a nursing home, there are so many opportunities and it is inspiring to see churches still leading the proclamation of the Gospel by using them.
I trust that this is a safe and happy time of the year for all readers. May it be a time, too, for taking stock of life as we poise for an awesome 2018. Great success comes from great habits and the start of a new year provides a great chance to address some new beginnings.
I’m signing off for 2017 and wish you a Merry Christmas and a great time enjoying the company of your loved ones!