The Pressure of Christmas
As a pastor, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a certain amount of pressure every year around Christmas. I feel the pressure because I want Christmas to be special and memorable for my entire congregation. I want kids and youth and adults to be captivated by Jesus’ birth. I long for them to find peace, joy, and hope in what God has done. So as I think through the liturgy, music, sermons, decorations, and special services, I ask myself, how can I make this year special and memorable? But this question only adds to the pressure, because now, I feel as if I need to one-up everything we did last year.
Do you ever feel extra pressure during the Christmas season? Are you ever tempted to believe you need to do something bigger and better than the previous years for Christmas to be special to your people? Have you ever looked over your Advent sermons and feared that preaching the same story to a people already familiar with it won’t be powerful enough? What should be an especially joyful season can sometimes become the most stressful time of the year for pastors.
Then there is the pressure we feel when we learn what other churches are doing. You hear of their large productions that draw in thousands of people, and suddenly, what you are doing doesn’t seem special enough. If we are not careful, the pressure of wanting to make Christmas special might cause us to forget why Christmas is special in the first place.
The Old Story Is Enough
Last year around Christmas, a story on social media caught my attention. A church put on Christmas performances filled with special effects, flying cast members, live animals, a full orchestra, and more. Now, it wasn’t the cost that immediately gave me pause, but rather this question: do they believe the Christmas story is enough?
When the constant pressure to do something new and innovative combines with the pressure we feel to make Christmas more special than last year, we can end up losing Christmas altogether. But the Christmas story is enough in itself. The message of Christmas—God sending His Son into the world to save it—gives us all we need for God-honoring and people-satisfying songs to sing and sermons to preach. We can and should be creative and try new things, but not if we lose what Christmas is really about in the process.