The last couple of weeks have been reasonably quiet by vicar’s standards, and it’s been good to actually spend some evenings at home and out of the study. There have been fewer pastoral emergencies and I deliberately didn’t put too many meetings in the church diary for this time of year. But it doesn’t mean that I have been idle. One of the greatest challenges of the Christmas period is that the services come thick and fast, and the only way you are going to make them good quality worship experiences is if you have had time to stop, to pray, to plan (although I have to confess I often plan before praying!).
So I’ve been using the time to go through some of the Scriptures, trying to sketch out plans for services, and generally trying to listen to what the Lord would have me say. The danger at Christmas is that you have such a familiar message you can, so to speak, preach on auto-pilot and mine a few favourite themes without really thinking what you are saying. The opportunity is that this is the one time of the year when folk really know the story that you are talking about, and so what you need to do is work out how to use the services you’re planning to make people think what, or indeed, who they are actually celebrating.
Soon it will be Christmas morning,
Cards and gifts around the tree;
But will you treasure, will you worship
Jesus born to set us free?
Some lines from a new Paul Oakley song On a dark night which I will definitely be using over the Christmas season.