The Christmas season is a wonderful time of year for attractional messages, parties and gatherings of all kinds. As church leaders, we are tasked with making the most of ts important time of year and reminding our church families it’s not about stores, décor, and gifts. We shepherd the hearts of our people to the manger and it is our joy and privilege to do so each year. What an awesome responsibility!
With your permission, let me bring something into sharper focus that has been on my mind for the past few years. It has to do with the idea of having a “quiet Christmas.”
Even as I compose this post, I have several people in mind within our community who’ve lost family members in recent months. Its not that these precious groups are grieving “as ones without hope.” its just that they are emotionally depleted. They are just crawling out from under the wreckage of one of life’s most dreaded events. For most, the idea of jumping right back into the throws of the Christmas season is daunting. The notion of singing joyfully and triumphantly along with the rest of the congregation without their loved one near seems unimaginable.
So let me suggest something small and simple for this tender few: Allow them space to celebrate quietly.
I don’t mean leaving them alone. Quite the contrary! What I mean is include space on your church calendar for a “Quiet Christmas.”
This service would include such things as gentle candlelight, minimal decorations, and softer carols of hope on simple instruments. It might also be the perfect place for the presentation of simple music instead, without the expectation for big time crowd participation. It might also be the right moment to use a space in a home, or in a chapel, or other meeting space. A change of venue can be helpful in reengaging grieving families. Fill your time with scripture, prayer, and hopeful readings. Be challenged to craft something elegantly simple that leads the participant through the hay in that stable all the way to the foot of the cross. Jesus centered, Holy Spirit is the only thing that can truly mend hearts.
Use your God-given creativity to plan something special for next year. Remember, it’s not about just adding one more thing to our December calendars; it’s about doing THE thing of real life ministry to families who are hurting.
If you have quiet Christmas ideas, I’d love to hear about them! Please share below.
Matthew 11:28 : “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Stephen Smith (@stephenandstar) serves on the Leadership Team at Houston’s First Baptist Church. He shepherds four teams within the church: Music, Multisite, Media, and Marketing. He spends the remainder of his time these days with his head in a book or dealing with an unruly yard. His passion is leading worship through song with his wife Star and leveraging their lives to see ministry multiplied in their home church and beyond.