We have family holiday traditions and we have church holiday traditions. Family traditions might include hanging stockings and visiting Grandma. Church traditions might include a children’s pageant and a Christmas Eve Candlelight service.
Maybe we can’t visit Grandma or we’ll visit through a window. There won’t be a traditional children’s pageant perhaps, although I know congregations planning outdoor Christmas Eve services even if it’s freezing outside. It actually sounds lovely to me: coats, scarves, candles.
When FBC and BDILE got married in our backyard five years ago, we asked them and the four parents about priorities: “What’s the one non-negotiable thing you want for this wedding day?”
The same could be asked for Holiday Season 2020. [Please don’t jump on me for using “Holiday” instead of Christmas because November-early January is comprised of at least seven observances depending on your tradition.]
What’s the non-negotiable thing you want for Thanksgiving this year? Maybe we can’t see the grandparents, but we can still make Grandma’s stuffing recipe.
What’s the non-negotiable thing you want for Christmas this year? Chances are there won’t be a children’s pageant in church, but maybe there can be a socially distanced Live Nativity outside.
Church leaders are already planning these events. And – as individuals – we need to make plans about own own personal and family Holiday Priorities too.
2020 could give us the most spiritually meaningful holiday season ever. And it’s all about asking ourselves: What is the one thing I need for this season to bring joy? Or what are the three things I need to feel what I need to feel this season after a year of loss and separation?
I have some thoughts.
- What if we choose financial generosity as our holiday priority this year? My denomination is on it. Imagine overwhelming our local food pantries and shelters and church emergency funds with breathtaking bounty.
- What if we simplify our own plans for the sake of lavishing the love on someone who’s had an especially tough year? The family of a COVID victim. The family of a violent crime victim. The family with job loss.
This is the time to consider our personal and family priorities for the holidays. This is the time to consider what we want 2021 to look like.
Congregations with strong leadership are already preparing – and not just by ordering candles. They are talking together about How the Church Will Be in a Post-Pandemic World. This is what all of us who love Jesus need to be talking about as our first holiday priority.