Regarding the entertainment and dinner activities at Christmas, I have seen pastors and preachers appeal for several years in a row not to let artistic activities replace religious worship, or let Santa Claus replace Jesus, and programs replace sermons.
I think it is a good thing that Christmas is not so bustling.
"Suffering" amid Christmas celebrations
The suspension of rehearsals at Christmas in the last two years has changed years of church tradition of celebrating the holiday with much fanfare. Some people think that Christmas cannot be Christmas without a list of programs, just like the 80th birthday of an old lady in the countryside. If a troupe is not invited to sing and dance, the birthday will be lonesome.
Why do Christians have to worry about Christmas entertainment? As long as the birth of the Lord is true, Christmas should still be celebrated with a joyful heart. If Jesus is not the main reason for celebrating Christmas, it will only be a gathering for celebrating the dead.
The pain of "performers"
Christmas rehearsals are practically the time when conflicts within the choir erupt, and it is also the time when hostility is sown. You, me, and him, the protagonist and supporting actor, each with their pride, and each is the king. Every time after Christmas, some of the church workers will somehow offend several people.
Some people turn Christmas into Good Friday and universal hope into despair. Even though at Christmas there are recreational activities, noise, a massive crowd, and there is no baby in the manger! It completely loses the meaning of Christmas.
The believers watch plays
The choir "meticulously" prepares works to commemorate the birth of the Lord, which are referred to as "carols" in the mouth of believers. The church keeps saying that it is for worship but for believers, it is a "show". Some actors can only imitate and have no understanding of the truth. Can believers understand the truth of their faith from it? I do not know either.
After watching a performance, believers usually comment on who was good and who was not. Was the show good? Who looks good and who does not? The Christmas party gives them the illusion that they are the main character. They forget that it is just a play on and off the stage, but everyone plays supporting roles, and the Lord Jesus is the protagonist. It is better to hold sacred music worship and special worship at Christmas than cultural and recreational activities.
Return the sermon to the podium
Over the years the sermon has been shortened again and again to fit around the performances. In some places, the sermon time has been whittled down to 10 minutes and more time is reserved for performances. The listeners of the sermon have long lost focus, and the performers are too busy preparing to listen to God's word.
There should be no entertainment activity at Christmas, only worship! Believers need to concentrate on worshipping and listening to the word of the Lord. There should be no list of popular programs and no ranking of the best acts. Believers should only care about why Jesus became flesh. They should think about what the incarnate Jesus did for them. As long as there is a master, nothing else matters.
The birth of Jesus is a fact, and in those days no one beat drums or danced. The angels reported good news, and the shepherds praised and spread the news all the way. The focus of Christmas is Jesus and when Christmas has become too gaudy and glitzy, restoring simplicity is a return to the true meaning of worship.
(Originally published by Gospel Times, this is a freelance article written by a pastor in Jiangsu province.)
- Translated by Nonye Nancy