Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Putting the Holy Back in the Holidays

There's a really disheartening poll from Zogby this morning. Actually, it has nothing to do with electoral politics, and what disheartens me is not the results of the poll (which don't exist yet), but the actual poll question itself. Here's the Zogby interactive polling question that came in this morning's email and broke my heart:

Thinking about the upcoming holiday season, which of the following best describes what it means to you? (Choose up to TWO)

  • Sharing time making memories with family and friends
  • Finding the right selection of gifts for everyone on my list
  • Waiting in shopping lines/crowded malls
  • Traveling
  • Being a little nicer to everyone I encounter
  • Stressing out
  • Other
  • Not sure

Notice anything missing from that list? Is the spiritual significance of the holidays so far lost that it rightfully belongs in "Other"?

For a few years we at FBC Farmersville have tried to put before our people some tangible ways to keep a spiritual emphasis during the holidays. We list nativity re-enactments in the DFW area, suggest family activities for the holidays, and this year we're even making music suggestions. Does your church do anything to try to cultivate the holidays as a spiritual occasion? If so, do you mind sharing with the rest of us what you do?


Ron P. said...


Even the names of the holidays are conspicuously absent. Thanksgiving (to the Lord) and Christmas (Christ's incarnation) are not politically correct to mention.

Ron P.

Anonymous said...

Too often Christians and preachers just assume people know the true Christmas Story.
You asked what we can do. A few of my thoughts would include:

Use Christmas tracts (, etc.); print Christmas Bible verses and poems in the Church Bulletin and elsewhere; preach on it; write a positive letter to the editor of your local newspaper about it; start including a Christmas song or two a month or two before Christmas, and after; tell people where the Christmas Story is found in the Bible (they don’t know); print or convey an article like “10 Questions for Christmas Gatherings” by Don Whitney, 12-13-2003 at; suggest families read the Christmas Story at home on Christmas Eve; include the Christmas Story in your Christmas Cards with tracts or Bible verses or religious cards; have an outdoor and/or indoor manger scene at church or at home; praise families that have manger scenes; include Christmas messages on your church sign, have children‘s Christmas Story books & DVDs at church; give gifts with a spiritual message like a children’s Christmas story book; encourage stores to have more Christmas products, decorations, songs with a spiritual message, and compliment them when they do; encourage media to include the spiritual side of Christmas; have kids or adults do a simple re-enactment of the Christmas Story; contact Zogby and let them know they have made a huge omission.
And Thanksgiving would require another long letter.
David R. Brumbelow

Alan Cross said...

This is a good post, Bart. We have had a serious focus on this the past few years. We have a large Christmas Party where we join with an African American church in town and share songs and other talents. We also have a series of events called "A Time to Serve." It exists of 8-10 service days from Thanksgiving to Christmas where people are encouraged to come together to serve others. We might work on the home of an elderly person, wrap presents for free outside a Wal-Mart, pass out treats on Christmas Day to firemen, emergency room workers, and others who have to work on Christmas Day, or engage in other events.

In all my messages, I talk about having a spiritual focus. A few years ago, my daughter's school Christmas play declared that Christmas was not about presents, but the real meaning was about families and friends getting together. I spoke to the music teacher, who was a Christian by the way, and told her that if she could not talk about Jesus, then please don't make up another meaning for Christmas. How would Jews feel if we made up our own meaning for Hanukkah? Christmas really does mean something and we should not be shy telling people about it.

Thanks for the post. Sorry for the long comment.

NativeVermonter said...

What helps me is going to the live nativity scenes. When they’re done properly, a person can get a small understanding of the life and times of the era. Just like the Judgment Houses we see during Halloween, it would be neat to see some scenes being acted out during these live nativity scenes, e.g., the Birth, fleeing to Egypt, etc.

Strider said...

Living in a Muslim Country here in Middle Earth Christmas is always interesting. My favorite part of the holiday is a carol sing we always host a day or two before Christmas. We spend a lot of time in our work trying to deemphasis the cultural aspects of our Christianity- it just seems that my soul comes alive when just us foreigners get together and sing the old story together.
Keep singing the Lord's songs in a foreign land Bart!