Well, here we are again. Another Christmas. Another challenge to figure out how to preach the Christmas story in a fresh way. The truth is, some years the Christmas season and Christmas services can feel more drudgery than delight. It is possible to feel disconnected spiritually and the whole Christmas season just seem like a grind. It’s possible to be a pastor and feel like the Grinch, Scrooge, Walter Hobbs and Old Mr. Potter all wrapped up into one. If you don’t know who those people are, you need to watch more Christmas movies.
When you are in ministry, the Christmas season is different for you and your family. Rather than it being a “down time” it is “game time.” The pace doesn’t slow down, the pace picks up. Rather than coming an sitting with your family to enjoy the Christmas Eve service, you are the one putting on the Christmas service.
Honestly, there have been some moments when I wished we could have a normal Christmas like other families. The key word is the word “normal.” I have come to realize that I have to redefine normal for myself and our family. It is true that the Christmas season might feel more intense and more work than it does for some families. The truth is, it comes with the territory of being a pastor of a local church during the Christmas season.
It makes me think of an incident that takes place in the book of Numbers. When the Lord divided Canaan among the tribes of Israel, the Levites received no share of the land. God said to Aaron and the priests, “I am your share and your inheritance.”
While everyone else in the nation of Israel received an inheritance of property, those whose lives were dedicated to ministry received an inheritance of presence… God’s presence. That didn’t mean that God’s presence wasn’t available to all Israelites, but in some way, those who served in ministry had a unique connection with God.
It might have been easy for them to look at all the other tribes and resent that they didn’t have real estate as their inheritance. Their “normal” wasn’t a piece of property like everyone else. They needed a different perspective and a different definition of normal.
So, instead of comparing our lives to the “normal” of other families, we need to establish a new normal for us. And two words have been helpful in establishing a healthy normal for me as a pastor.
As a pastor, the Christmas season is a time I get to serve. Putting on Christmas services for our congregations and community is not a “have to,” it is a “get to.” I don’t have full control of my circumstances but I have 100% control of my perspective.
It is my choice whether or not I see my serving as a blessing or a burden. To me, it is sort of like the person who has to wait tables on Christmas. They can either do it with a “bah humbug” spirit or they can see it as a privilege to serve people a great meal. In the same way, spiritually speaking, we get to wait tables and serve up a great spiritual meal celebrating the moment that the eternal, infinite God became flesh.
So, are you go through these new few weeks, remind yourself that ministry is a “get to”. Let that truth put a little more bounce in your step and a little more in your words.
Even though the Christmas season has a certain craziness and chaos to it, we can choose to savor holy moments. When we savor something, we enjoy it, linger over it, and take in the moment.
Luke 2:17-19 says When they (the shepherds) had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were AMAZED at what the shepherds told them. BUT Mary TREASURED UP all these things and PONDERED THEM in her heart.
Mary is trying to soak it all in. In the middle of a stable and surrounded by noisy animals, with excited shepherds telling their story, and a newborn that she is trying to take care of, in her soul she creates her own little sanctuary. And for a few moments takes time to treasure and ponder all that is happening.
I want you to notice something that happens in verse 18.
Notice that everyone hears the same thing… but they have 2 very different responses. The crowd is impressed, but Mary is impacted. The crowd listens, but Mary lingers. They are experiencing the same exact moment, but they have two different responses.
I really believe that the richness of your holiday season is directly related to your ability to linger over God-moments. Let me give you a challenge for the rest of this month. Don’t let your work and ministry overshadow the wonder and mystery of this season. Savor the “God moments.”
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Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. – Acts 20:28-29