Zealous. Fervent. Enthusiastic. Excited. Ardent. Emotionally involved. The Word says that these are to be characteristics of Jesus’ disciples, and we shouldn’t lose them.
I think we would all agree that being excited is great. New gifts are initially exciting. A new friendship, new job, first day of school, opening day of the new movie release … exciting stuff is usually new stuff.
I’ve been a part of “exciting” churches. They are usually exciting because there’s a new engaging speaker in the pulpit, or a new facility, or the buzz of lots of new people attending (growth). All of those exciting places are no longer exciting. Most have leveled off to a consistent “normal” … others have become, frankly, dreary. That’s because churches are eerily the same as the rest of our lives – normal day bleeds into normal day. 99% of our lives is the “same old same old.”
So, like the world, churches try to “spice things up.” A new hire. A new building. New music. A new program. A new sermon series. New service times. A new logo. But, it’s amazing … in a world that has more change-to-excite than ever, there is more boredom than ever. And we blindly think that these contemporary means to re-titillate ourselves actually work … are are appropriate in the church.
It has dawned on me this year that I find Christmastide exciting! Every year! And it’s not because it’s new and different. It’s because it’s old and the same! For several weeks each year, our world eases into a set of rich traditions, full of meaning, and most everyone says these are the best days of the year, and … well, why can’t it be Christmas all year ’round?
As a spiritual orphan, I’m coming to an important realization. If I was to become a part of a new family, the first thing I would want to do is become acquainted with and immersed in that family’s traditions. That’s what would give me identity, and make my new family-life exciting. But, if that family has abandoned all of its own traditions, and is ceaselessly trying new things to amuse itself, there would never be any experience of family to which to connect.
So, bring on the music. The pine. The ornaments. The lights. Those cookies. The stockings. The movies. All the red and green. The train under tree. The family gathering. The hymns. The liturgies. The readings. The eucharist. The kisses of peace. The presence of Christ among His people gathered.
I’m excited just thinking about it!