Sandy and I did something new this year – we put up our Christmas tree on November 12. That’s really early for us. We usually put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving. But since Thanksgiving is so late this year (November 28), she said, "Why don't we start a new tradition by putting the tree up on your mother's birthday?" This was a sweet gesture on her part, especially since I had been thinking about and missing my mom a little bit more than normal this year. So, the Christmas tree and all the Christmas decorations have been up at our house for a while now. There’s something special about decorating for Christmas because it creates an attitude of expectation. And because, for the past 39 years of my life, Christmas has been inseparably linked to church, that expectation is focused on my physical family and my spiritual family as well. That’s especially true at Mount Pleasant, where I have enjoyed some of my most memorable Christmas experiences.
This year we’ll be using the theme Vintage Christmas. This isn’t something that’s original to me; I got the idea while doing some research online, and I loved it. The word “vintage” describes quality, authenticity and legacy. So, throughout December, our focus will be on an authentic and meaningful Christmas experience. We’ll talk about the things we can do to make sure our hearts are fully prepared to experience the fullness of Christmas, and we’ll be dipping into the past, so to speak, to share some of our favorite songs and elements from past Christmas’ at Mount Pleasant. I’m looking forward to a great month of worship.
There are a couple of things that will be different about Christmas this year. First, we won’t be having the “big” special Christmas Service weekend this year. There are a couple of reasons why. First there is the sewer expansion and road closures. I’ve looked at the numbers before and after the road closures, and there’s no question this project has had an impact on our weekend attendance. And with only one way on and off the property, traffic flow has become a challenge for a weekend that draws over 6,000 people. Normally our special Christmas Service would be happening on the weekend of December 7/8, and we would add two extra services (Friday and Saturday afternoon), but we won’t be doing that this year. Instead, we’ll be following our regular weekend service schedule. We will have a Children’s Choir singing in each of the services, which will be very special. I want to encourage all of you who will be inviting family and friends to hear the choir to ask them to come on Saturday at 6pm or Sunday at 11am. Our Sunday 9:15am service is already very full. Along with the Children’s Choir, we will have some special music that weekend that I know will bless you and add to your Christmas spirit. The second reason we won’t be doing our “big” Christmas Service this year is it’s been something we’ve done now for several years, and taking a year off will help us be even more excited and creative for next year when things (roads) get back to normal.
The second thing that will be different about Christmas at Mount Pleasant this year is the days and times of our Christmas Eve services. Again, because of the road closures and the difficulties of handling so much traffic on a single day, we will be spreading out the Christmas Eve services across three days. We’ll have a Christmas Eve service on Sunday night (December 22) at 6pm, Monday night (December 23) at 7pm and Tuesday (December 24) at 4pm and 11pm. This service schedule might seem a little odd, but it's actually something that many churches have been doing for some time. Having Christmas Eve services on multiple days creates more opportunities for people to attend, especially people who are never able to attend because of travel or family activities. Each service will feature some Christmas carol favorites as well as a very special candlelight moment. We’ll be offering childcare for under two years old on Sunday night and Monday night, and under four years old on Tuesday afternoon. I’ll be preaching at each of the Christmas Eve services.
I hope you’re looking forward to Christmas this year. I really believe our Vintage Christmas theme will be very special. And remember, all the research says that people are more open to coming to church at Christmas than any other time of the year. So, as you think about Christmas at Mount Pleasant – invite a friend, or maybe even your one life.