The 3 Things the Grinch Doesn't Like About Our Christmas Services ...and doesn't care to steal!
Tongue only slightly in cheek...mmmm, is that a leftover piece of fruit cake there?
In 40 plus years of music ministry I've never grumbled about the task of creating joyous Christmas moments for everyone else while postponing my own Yuletide indulgences. It just comes with the territory. I love Christmas!
I even sang for many years in the Dickens carolers at Disneyland, and sat in various poses around fake fireplaces with Andy Williams on his NBC network Christmas shows back in the day. Just for the record, I don't mind serving other people's needs during this wonderful season or missing dozens of Christmas Eve celebrations with my family.
Mr. Grinch, in all his greenness, seemed to hate Christmas because everyone in Whoville, below, was having so much fun while he sulked in his self-imposed mountaintop prison. Like Scrooge, he was an unhappy curmudgeon secretly longing to be released from the bonds of misery and cynicism. Ebenezer Scrooge and The Grinch are the very commercialized keepers of the tradition actually begun by another, more sinister Evil One who was not a product of modern fiction.
Have you ever wondered what they would think of your Christmas services? Would your wondrous events melt their hardened hearts? Probably not. I bet they would have a list of grievances about what they hate most, and might even publish their lengthy diatribes on their blogs!
This is just conjecture, of course, but I think these would be the 3 main gripes:
First, everybody sings the same songs at Christmas. That surely ticks them off because they're used to seeing churches divided into little groups of people who get to have their own music. But, at Christmas everybody sings the same stuff—disgusting!
Oh, of course, attempts are made by contemporary artists to update Christmas like, say Chris Rice's "Welcome to Our World." But before you know it, everyone's singing it in every service, so it's not very contemporary anymore. Bummer!
The boys hate it when we do things together. They prefer our fighting over the small stuff as over and against all of us singing "Silent Night" in one room.
Second, the fearsome threesome hate the fuss we make over this one day in the year. They're mistrustful of the fact that what we say about Jesus doesn't always seem to jibe with our lack of interest in Him the rest of the year. At Christmas our churches are filled with people, sometimes standing out in the cold waiting to get it. During other times of the year, you could shoot a canon through the place and not hit anyone.
Third, they have observed a certain duplicity in our thinking about Jesus at Christmas time. At some deep level, it confuses and annoys them. We emphasize the manger but often mix it with a special solo by Santa Claus and the Does women's ensemble. We say it's to attract nonbelievers, but our secret little pleasure is to do that hot arrangement of "Jingle Bell Rock" again this year.
It's no wonder these infamous grouchy characters look at us from afar and judge our every motive. We've made it confusing for them and we've fed their deep mistrust of who we are. We claim we're Easter People, but we sometimes find more comfort in a string-backed version of White Christmas. We're crazy-makers! It's hard to blame our critics because our mixed motives confuse even us, the hardcore Christian Christmas revelers.
Maybe it's time to rethink how we practice, uphold, and celebrate the coming of Christ.
—Doug Lawrence, internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor, helps churches assess and improve their skillfulness in creating engaging worship experiences by utilizing his more than 35 years of "deep trench" worship leadership in prominent mainline churches. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you wish, call 650.207.8240 for assessment information and scheduling.