Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Christmas During Advent

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 

Pic of Ray 11302014I was reading some posts on Facebook last night and someone – posting on a group for United Methodist Clergy – implied that the liturgical calendar should be followed during advent and Christmas shouldn’t begin until December 24th. The poster was complaining about a United Methodist Church that was already singing Christmas hymns in early December. Oh my!

At First United Methodist Church in Laurel – we have been singing traditional Advent and Christmas hymns since the first Sunday of December. A human designed liturgical calendar doesn’t control how we celebrate the birth of Christ anymore than it controls when we preach on the Resurrection (should that only be on Easter?).

My response to this poster (and I rarely jump into these meaningless discussions) was as follows: Maybe Methodists aren’t slaves to a liturgical calendar, created by humans. Maybe celebrating Christmas for a couple of months even is not a bad thing. Apparently some other pastors agree with me because as I type this devotional the comments are running 3-1 similar to my opinion and my comment has gotten numerous likes.

Today’s passage is definitely a Christmas theme scripture. Here it is in partial context (enjoy the Christmas message). Isaiah 7:10-17 – 10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.” 13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin h will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. 17 The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah—he will bring the king of Assyria.”

There are times when I have focused on the season of preparation – the season of anticipation – the season we call Advent. But I am not locked into a human created liturgical calendar for my sermons or worship design anymore than the rest of the church is in their personal lives. The greatest gift was given at Christmas – and if we desire to celebrate it for the whole month of December rather than for a few days after Christmas only – so be it. The world needs to know that Christmas is important to the Christian Church – more so than the commercial world and we will not relegate it to a few days. If singing Christmas hymns and carols helps to draw people to Jesus – we will sing them whenever we meet!

We have been focusing on the Psalms this year during Advent at our church – dealing with God’s awesomeness – God’s power – God’s presence – God’s greatest gift. We have not shied away from celebrating Christmas during Advent. Why should we?  By the way – our choir did a wonderful job yesterday afternoon with a Christmas Cantata – yes – during Advent!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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December 15, 2014 - Posted by | Advent Thought, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. We debate the virgin birth, the atonement of sin, the second coming, the divinity of Christ, worship Sophia, etc., with little ecclestical concern. But mess with the advent calendar?? Now Ray, you’ve just gone too far!

    Like

    Comment by Henry Koether | December 15, 2014 | Reply

    • Thanks Henry. I know – I was getting a little radical there – messing with Advent. The pastor on the clergy group and some others were really serious about “how important Advent was to them and to the church” and I was just trying to say – draw people to Jesus – however you can.

      A man made (even historical) liturgical calendar has little meaning to me brother. What I want to do is draw people to Jesus – and if singing Christmas songs during Advent helps – I’m all for it. A pastor friend shared this formula he received in seminary. 1st Sunday of Advent – all advent songs. 2nd Sunday of Advent – 1 Christmas Song – 3rd Sunday of Advent – 2 Christmas songs – 4th Sunday of Advent – all Christmas songs. I like that formula.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Like

      Comment by raymcdonald | December 15, 2014 | Reply


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