Somehow a post I made three years ago is suddenly getting some feedback. A couple of people wrote to tell me that I was wrong when I suggested that maybe its OK to indulge in Christmas throughout advent. Interesting.
First, I’m not a huge Christmas fan period. I don’t have a lot at stake when people start and or stop celebrating Christmas. I’m usually just trying to fight off my seasonal depression.
Second, and more to the point, the last line of my post is what I thought most important. At least it is something I still absolutely affirm. I said, “People are more easily convinced by being invited into an experience we value than they are by being pushed away from experiences we judge as inappropriate.” We can object to the commercialism, the premature Christmas singing, the Santa Claus until we’re blue in the face. It’s not going to change anything. People need something during the shorter days and longer nights. A more helpful response is to find healthy and appropriate ways to engage the season–one that helps to fend off the inevitable sadness that emerges this time of year. Someone tell me the positive, constructive, life-affirming things about December. We’ve ranted enough about how pathetic this season is.
I grew up believing that everyone needed a primary care physician–a family practitioner. As an adult, new “doc in the box” operations began opening up. While my family does have primary care physicians–a doctor I go see usually, pediatrician for my children, and an OB/GYN my wife sees–we have at times gone to the clinic. I wonder if these institutions have relieved non-emergency calls at the emergency room (a good thing) OR if they lulled people away from primary care physicians (not a good thing). I haven’t found any research to suggest that fewer people are establishing relationships with primary care physicians so, my analogy doesn’t quite have the punch.
However, it used to be the case that people “knew” they needed a relationship with a denomination and a local church in the same way they “knew” they needed a relationship with a primary care physician. Someone needed to hold their record (letter) and keep up with their vital statistics (date of baptism, marriage, rededications). Yet, increasingly people are not convinced of the need for a relationship with a local church. When they need “church” they assume that they can just go down to “church in the box” and get what they need.
The problem is, of course, that while easily accessible worship services abound–particularly in our area–the other thing people need from church like accountability, support, and the call to service do not emerge quickly in church relationships. It takes time.