Christmas is Coming (but is not here yet)

In society today words and images are becoming loaded with meanings that signal a person’s political and cultural loyalties. In many cases the Church and Christians must stand apart from these partisan divides that hover over conversation. For example, the word “holiday” and the greeting “Happy Holidays.”

Because this greeting has begun to be used by some department store clerks and television commercial advertisers as an alternative to “Merry Christmas,” many evangelicals are told that to say “Happy Holidays” is a compromise to an anti-Christian spirit. We are told that we need to keep “Christ” in Christmas, and so we should boldly say “Merry Christmas” to everyone we meet in December.

This is a matter of opinion, and it is fair for you to know my opinion as the pastor of the church whose site you are visiting. In my opinion this is a non-issue born out of heightened political sensitivities. I believe that Christians should be taking back the term “Happy Holidays” for all that it truly means. ”Holiday” equals “Holy Days.” “Happy Holidays” is a greeting that encompasses, for the Christian, a blessing on the observances: 1) of the Advent Season including its saints days such as St. Nicholas Day on December 6 and Santa Lucia Day on December 13; 2) of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the 12 days of Christmastide, including the Feast of Stephen and New Year’s; 3) The celebration of Epiphany on January 6, the visit of the Wise Men to the child of Bethlehem.

Do not misunderstand this post. I am NOT encouraging an attitude of compromise with an agenda that wants to remove Christ from culture and from history.  I AM encouraging truthful, non-politicizing speech. If someone asks you why you, an evangelical, uses the term “Happy Holidays,” tell them that holiday means holy day. What a great window into a testimony! For more discussion, look for “Christmas and Culture” under this site’s “Hot Topics.”

We invite you to spend the holidays (holy days) with us this December, and a Merry Christmas with us too when the time comes, on Sunday mornings and in our special events scheduled throughout the month. The Praise Team “Redeemed” will be involved in the worship services Dec. 8 and 22nd. Communion will be shared Dec. 1 and 31 (see below for our New Year’s Eve event) and January 5, 2014, our celebration of Epiphany.

Santa Lucia Coffee Open House: Saturday, December 7, 2013

Come enjoy holiday breakfast treats and traditional Scandinavian foods from 9-11 AM on December 7. The open house will also feature music and appearances of Santa Lucia. It is true that we do not celebrate Santa Lucia on her actual holy day of December 13; our annual celebration is the first Saturday in December. Admission is free, free-will donations are welcome.

Christmas Choir Program

Set aside December 15th, the third Sunday in Advent, to join us as our choir will be featured in the morning service (10:30 AM).  As Pastor Jonathan (the author of this post) is in the choir’s bass section, Family Pastor Greg Johnson will preach. Our children’s church will also be featured in two numbers!

“Joyous Noel” Night of Christmas Music, 6 PM

On the evening of December 15th all are invited to “Joyous Noel: The Music of Christmas,” a concert with divas Dr. Rise Jones and Solange Sior, cellist Bob Weber, pianist Murna Hansemann, and caroling led by John LaBorn. Refreshments will follow.

Christmas Services:

Christmas Eve, December 24th, 7 PM, candlelight service.

Julotta, Christmas Morning, 6 AM. A breakfast fellowship will follow at Randall Pancake House.

December 29th, 10:30 AM, Christmastide. Family Pastor Greg will preach.

New Year’s Eve Gathering

6 PM, Potluck Dinner, Fellowship Hall.

7 PM, Worship and communion, Sanctuary. Child-care is planned in the pre-school room.

8 PM, Potluck desserts and snacks buffet, games for as long as people want to stay.

Within the schedule all are free to come and go from our New Year’s gathering as they please.

All month long we are keeping Christ at the center of our observances. He truly is the reason for the season,  the happy holidays of Advent and the Merry Christmas of Christmastide. We hope to see you here, and Happy Holidays!