Christmas is my favorite time of the year. The cold weather is painful with arthritis and the shorter days does a number on my depression, but the excitement and anticipation of the coming of the Christ-child makes all that seem irrelevant.
Of course, the cold weather is easier to deal with at my size. I can at least breathe better and I can always put on more clothes if I am cold.
One of the things I do not look forward to is the commercialization of the holiday. Before you think that I am going to rail about the “War on Christmas©”, I do not care what a retail worker says to me at this holiday season. I do not care if they say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, because it does not change the coming of the Christ-child one little bit. No, the commercialization I am speaking of is the hustle and bustle of the stores, the push to buy more and more stuff we really don’t need. It is the coming of the Christmas decorations and music in September and October.
Those of us in church leadership are also guilty of this to an extent. I have been guilty of referring to Christmas as my busiest time of the year. We stand waiting for the crowds, looking for a boost in the collection plate, worrying about making a good impression on the once a year visitors in the hopes they will come back more than once a year. Do we want them to come back so they can be saved and join us in heaven, or so that they can drop a check in the collection plate. Even worse, in the Independent Sacramental Movement especially, we want them to come back so we can brag about our numbers.
In all of this we forget what is important. We forget that we are here to preach Christ, who came to save us from our sins, who looks for us because he wants to have a personal relationship with us. We forget the great gift Christ gives us every time we are Mass, himself in the form of bread and wine.
We allow ourselves to become distracted by the glitz and glamour of the season. We worry about whether we have enough red or white poinsettias. We want to make sure we have enough Christmas Trees and that their lights are synchronized. I even knew a priest who insisted that each poinsettia had to be exactly 6 inches apart. He even brought a ruler to make sure they were!
We spend all this time and money dolling up the church for Christmas that we forget the child born in a stable. He was born in an impoverished way. He was born into simplicity. His first visitors were shepherds who likely smelled and were dirty. And yet, the angels called these shepherds to come see the Christ-Child because he came for all of us, not just the rich.
This Christmas, I encourage you to not doll up the church. Spend the money you would spend on poinsettias and Christmas trees on helping the poor. Buy them food or a coat. Help someone less fortunate rather than spending the money on decorations. This would honor the Christ-Child much better than all the decorations you might buy.
I wanted to take one moment to thank everyone who submitted articles to the magazine this quarter. We have a wonderful selection of articles. Please be sure to check out the Christmas section of this edition as well.
We have introduced a Letters to the Editor section. If you would like to send in a Letter to the Editor, you may email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We enjoy getting mail and look forward to publishing some of your letters.
Additionally, if you have a suggestion for an article or series of articles or if you would like to write for Convergent Streams, please feel free to use the above email address to send in your suggestions or submissions.
Until next time, may you have a very Holy and Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.
The Right Rev. Gregory Godsey, OSFoc is the Managing Editor of Convergent Streams. He is the Presiding Bishop of the Old Catholic Churches International and the Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of Saint Maximilian Kolbe (AL, FL, GA, and SC). He is also the Director of the Office of Communications and Media Relations for the OCCI. He lives in North Augusta, South Carolina with his wife and son.