By Dr. Francis Akin-John
…The Church Eterna
Our calling is to minister to all these folks, re-gardless of the time of year.
- The parties are often numerous, and the exp-ectations are high. Every-body invites the pastor and his family, and every-body expects them to co-me. It’s possible to have an entire month of Decem-ber without a free night if you don’t schedule well. Yet, heaven forbid if you miss a Christmas party!
- Other extra Christmas events usually require ex-tra time. If we play a role in the Christmas musical, practices are necessary. Children’s presentations often require the pastor to be involved at some le-vel. You want to be excited about every performance for the sake of the gospel, but it’s not always easy.
- Some of us wrestle bet-ween being with our chur-ch or with our extended family. That’s especially the case when Christmas Eve or Christmas falls on Sunday, as the eve does this year. Some of us want to be with our extended family out of state, but the Christmas event is a big deal. Sometimes, we prio-ritize the church because we feel like we must.
- We watch, and often participate in, the mater-ialism that pulls at Niger-ian Christianity. We see what it’s doing to our cul-ture. We recog-nize the idols around us, and many of them are things that won’t last. We preach against it, all the while knowing that we’re often guilty, too.
- It’s tough to come up with new Christmas ser-mons. We don’t need to come up a new story, of course—the Christmas story is always both sim-ple and glorious. It feels wrong, though, to preach the same message each Christmas, and we want to present it well to a cr-owd that may be present only one Sunday. Many of us try to find a new app-roach to an old story.
- Christmas attendance is often like a roller coast-er. Sometimes it decreas-es from December 1 to af-ter the new year. It often increases on the Sunday closest to Christmas, though it’s possible that many members will be aw-ay that weekend, too. Numbers-watching during this season can drive a pastor crazy.
- The whole season can be tiring. Churches that operate on a calendar year might still be rushing to complete budgets and volunteer staffing for the next year. Personal and family crises don’t stop just because it’s a holiday. All the Christmas happen-ings are just added on to daily ministry—and it’s wearisome.
- Poverty often becomes most real during this season.