Worship at Christmas takes an entirely different form to any other time in the year. Particularly in our church, as I’m sure for many others, we blow the dust off the Christmas file and pull out the classics.
As well as carols, we find ourselves singing the same set lists every December since before anyone can remember. There is a definite reason for this, the songs are very much a description of the deep, heartfelt joy of everyone who experienced meeting the baby version of the saviour of the human race. It’s a time of year that universalises our beliefs, and for the people who don’t go to church it’s an acknowledgement, at least to some extent, that something amazing happened in a stable 2000 years ago.
Although it’s reasonable to state that Christmas is not all about Christ anymore, the opportunity to proclaim the good news presents itself every year. Traditions have dampened this somewhat, with Christmas presents, Christmas trees and a wealth of other things getting in the way, however it remains that the central ideology of Christmas remains with Christ.
At a time of year when we focus on helping those in need, we must remind ourselves that Jesus’ instruction to help the very same people applies to every other day of the year. I see it this way, Christmas is a window, and through this window we see the hurt of this world. The lonely, the poor, the homeless and we are moved to do more to help them, because it’s Christmas. Then, come January, the curtains are closed, but the scene on the other side doesn’t change.
So how do we extend to a full year long Christmas? Easy. Recognise first the very deep meaning of Christmas and love your God for it and then love your neighbour as you do yourself. Use Christmas to remind yourself, and praise God for the amazing gift of life.
Musically, not much has changed, carols are the same as they were in the 1800’s. With that being said, we can take them and mould them into something more current than an organ playing 700 verses. Bring to them your own voice, your own praise and that’s what people will remember. I’m not saying give ‘We Three Kings’ a metal makeover (unless of course, that’s where your church is at), but we must take on a mantel of keeping these songs alive in a way that relates to the lives of those who know Christ and those who are learning through these songs.
So, this Christmas, give your praise through carols, Christmas songs and in a way that shines a light into the darkness of this world. Leave the curtains open in 2014, don’t hide away from it and the gift that God gave so freely, will come into its own.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
– Matthew 25: v35 onward.