So I took a little time out from my sabbatical yesterday to attend a workshop on worship and Sunday School planning for the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany cycle. This time is, naturally, right around the corner (and much anticipated) for the church just as it is for many, many others. Technically the holiday isn't actually all that big in the church. In reality, of course, it is and it is also a big deal for all those "Christmas Christians" who celebrate the holiday without giving much thought to their faith tradition during the rest of the year. The old expression for these folks was actually "Christmas and Easter" but in reality the true C&E Christians are a much smaller bunch. Regular church people, of course, are even more of a minority these days...
Anyway, last year I preached a series of sermons and did a series of posts about bringing meaning back to the holiday. Many of them had to do with controlling our holiday spending. I have a theory that much of the spending that occurs is because people want to celebrate something but they have lost touch with what that might be. There is a hole, therefore, that they fill with stuff and noise in hopes that the hole goes away. Kind of depressing, don't you think? Of course, not all of the holidays during the holiday season are Christian so I am not making a plea necessarily for non-Christians to give up their own religion! Far from it. Rather we all need to get in touch with what truly brings us light in the darkness. It is not our stuff!
This first link is to my post about holiday shopping rules and approach. It started with a sermon, which folks then wanted broken down a bit. These can be found under Christmahanukkwazakah Shopping!
The next link features a picture of my truly nasty-looking Thanksgiving meal. It was, however, quite tasty and we did our best to buy local. Also, I briefly note that instead of "Buy Nothing Day" right after Thanksgiving, we have traditionally bought local. The theory being that not purchasing anything one day isn't really helpful unless it means you have changed your ways. Buying things from local businesses, however, helps your neighbors and sends a more powerful message about where our values lie. There, that is pretty much it on this one, so you don't have to look at the stuffed turkey-breast unless you want to at So...Was It Local?.
Finally, these posts generated a great deal of discussion on Facebook, at church, and in the extended family. I therefore added a brief post about buying for kids during the holiday and talking to them about our changing values as we reclaim some sanity for our December and some spirit for our holidays. You can read this at Christmas Shopping II: For the Kids.
OK, I hope this helps. If you are in the area or part of the church. I am planning a few discussion opportunities this year around unplugging that Christmas machine. I hope you can make it.