Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Advent and Christmas Intertwinned

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. 

RayMcDI was reviewing some of my past posts for Advent and I came across one discussing Advent and Christmas. I had been reading some on Facebook and came across a post in a United Methodist Clergy group that implied the liturgical calendar should be followed during Advent. They suggested that Christmas shouldn’t begin until December 24th. The poster in that group was complaining about United Methodist Churches that sing Christmas hymns in early December. Oh my! Will Jesus even bless such blasphemy?

At the church I serve and most of them for sure that I have served over the years – we usually sing traditional Advent and Christmas hymns throughout the month 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 that poster – some time ago – went like this (and I rarely jump into these meaningless discussions): 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 the comments on that post were running 3-1 similar to my opinion and my comment received 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. 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 theme Christ is Coming during Advent this year at our church – dealing with keeping our eyes on Jesus – on vertical vision rather than horizontal vision – preparing the way for His arrival in our hearts – our lives – our world. We have not shied away from celebrating Christmas during Advent. Why should we?  By the way – our choir will share a wonderful piece with us this Sunday afternoon and we will sig Christmas Carols and Hymns too! Yes – even during Advent!

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

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December 1, 2016 - Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. More Christmas songs please!!!! 🙂

    Like

    Comment by Ray Caswell | December 1, 2016 | Reply


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