The final 63 days of each year can accurately be called the "holiday season." Many of the "big" holidays occur during this time of the year. We start with Halloween and Thanksgiving, then conclude with Christmas and New Year's Day. It's a kid's favorite time of year!
But what are holidays? Aren't they essentially setting aside time to remember and celebrate? In many cases, we are recognizing the birthday of a national leader to remind us of his service to our country or his impact on our lives. We celebrate because life is better now due to sacrifice given then. More or less, this holds true whether we are talking about a George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King or St. Valentine.
In other cases, we observe a significant turning point in our history. A nation is born on lofty new principles. A nation is defended through the lost lives of its men and women in uniform. A nation is strengthened by its labor force and work ethic.
Holidays normally have deep meaning behind them. The great celebrations of ancient Israel pointed back to monumental times when God Himself stepped into her path and redirected her children through a miracle rescue, a unique and everlasting covenant or even a time of unusual prosperity. And it seems these holidays had a triple purpose and focus: thank God, humble oneself and teach the young.
In our nation these days, it seems pretty rare when we as a people thank God for anything. To humble ourselves is normally considered weakness now, not a reflection of strength as it once was. Even teaching the young about why we celebrate each holiday is currently being viewed by our government as dangerous and subversive.
So it falls to the family to accurately remember the great men and events of our shared past, to detail the faith and courage that was once demonstrated and the resulting difference in our lives, to add back the meaning behind the celebrations.
What we experience during the final 63 days of each year is not just a winter break. It's the reminder of an unnerving, incomprehensible moment in human history when the God of the universe gave Himself to His creation out of unnerving, incomprehensible love.
Thank God. Humble thyself. And teach the children well.
Parties, concerts and extra services during the holidays that keep the pastor out beyond his regular hours can easily result in less-than-jolly feelings in the parsonage. Here are some suggestions to ease that burden.
Even with limited funds and a crowded schedule, you can give joyfully to the congregation at Christmastime.
Ever since I can remember, Christmas has been my favorite holiday. When I became a minister, I continued my love affair with the month of December. For my children, however, it was another story.