I feel that I must play a little catch up for you since I haven’t written anything in quite some time. I’ve been pouring my time into working my day job, and when I do have time to write, I’ve chosen to spend that energy writing songs. So I apologize for not having anything new to read for a while. But you’ll be happy to know that I have a whole string of new posts for the coming weeks. So keep checking back.
But today is Christmas Eve, and I’ve decided to write about Christmas today and what it means to me this year because, well, it’s different for me this year. More unique than possibly any other year.
You see, this year marks the first Christmas in about a decade that I’m not working on staff at a church somewhere. If you have been reading my posts, you know my last major blog series was on a Survey Of American Christianity. That series did more for me than just inform my readers about the inner workings and history of the church. It also helped enlighten me to one simple fact: I was done with church.
I wasn’t ready to admit it yet, but by the time I finished that blog series, I felt a bit like I was in a billion pieces. I had just detonated the bomb inside me that had been there for years and up until a couple of weeks ago, I was still in shock. (more on this in another post)
But here I am. It’s Christmas Eve. And I have nowhere to be. There’s some things I’m learning in this new experience. So I thought I’d share with you.
What Christmas Was Meant To Be
One of the major things I’m seeing more of this year being outside the church is that there’s a lot of good will towards men and all that. You see a lot of kindness and love towards strangers. You see people who aren’t related at all get together as family. Bars become living rooms and dining rooms, coffee shops become a sanctuary, and love is experienced in the most unexpected ways.
When you work in a church it’s really easy to get caught in the busy work of preparing for services and focusing on details. You don’t really see a lot of love and kindness in church during Christmas. I usually see parents getting frustrated with their children, old people complaining that it’s too hot because they just had to wear their christmas sweater when it’s 75 degrees outside, and everyone is always a critic of the arrangements of christmas songs and what songs you should have played. I don’t miss any of that.
But what I have begun to experience in my first few months outside of the Church is a surprising freedom that I never thought I’d find. It’s amazing how accepting, loving, and genuinely kind people are that aren’t church goers. This is all even more exemplified during the holiday season.
What Christmas Is NOT
This year has been a strange year of fighting and yelling and arguing amongst Christians. People have been up in arms about the weirdest things. Let’s not forget the Starbucks Red Cup Scare Of 2015 (#ItsJustACup). How dare Starbucks (a liberal company that emphasizes no religious affiliation) take off the Judeo-Christian symbols that were never actually there to begin with! But I digress..
What I’ve seen a lot of this year is Christians reminding me of what Christmas is not.
- Christmas is NOT about presents
- Christmas is NOT about lights and ornaments
- Christmas is NOT about you
- And most importantly (Christians, you might want to sit down for this one); Christmas is no longer just about Christ to everyone. It never was just about Christ. We borrowed a pagan holiday and reclaimed it for the Church calendar. Which is what the Church did for most “Christian holidays”.
Christmas is about showing love and grace to family, friends, and your fellow man. Maybe that’s at a dinner table, at a candlelight service, a bar, or on a street corner. But Christmas is simply here to remind us that we are blessed with much, and therefore have much to give. If Jesus is the reason for your season, that’s really great. But it isn’t the reason for EVERYONE’S season.
This year, Jesus wasn’t the only reason for my Christmas, and I have enjoyed the Christmas season more this year than I have in a long time.
Tonight I will have dinner with family. I will attend a midnight Mass by candlelight (which is the first time I’ve been in a church since I quit months ago), and I will come home and read till I fall asleep. Tomorrow I will have a complete and full day of rest. And it will be glorious.
So let’s take this opportunity to remember to be kind to one another, extend grace where grace is needed, choose love over hate, and be merry. Regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof, I think we can all come together in agreement on this one.
I wish everyone a very merry Christmas!
How are you guys spending your Christmas eve/day? Comment below!