As soon as the calendar turned from Halloween to the first day of November, social media started lighting up with people’s complaints about hearing Christmas music in all the stores, on the radio, and everywhere else that they went.
It kind of made me smile considering that I start listening to Christmas music sometime in July or August. I do that for two reasons. First of all, I need to start thinking about Christmas and Advent in July or August in order to be prepared in advance for everything. Part of my job is to make sure that the theme for our church to focus on during the Advent season is chosen early enough to allow for musical selections, drama selections, and any other creative ideas that might emerge as I meet with my Creative Team. I need to be prepared.
The second reason for starting to listen to Christmas music that early is just because there is too much good Christmas music (IMHO) to relegate it to the four weeks of Advent. There is just no way that I can listen to all of the Christmas music that I want to listen to in that period of time. In fact, if I were to start listening to music for 24 hours a day starting from the first Sunday in Advent until the end of Christmas day, I’m still not sure that I would be able to get through it all.
I know that some people are lamenting the commercialization of Christmas, and that’s probably their biggest complaint. I get that. I’ve added to the problem by going out on Black Friday (which has slowly started to creep into Thanksgiving day). I am not innocent, and I can be the first one to confess that. But is there a silver lining behind this cloud? Is there something that we might be missing?
As a pastor, one thing that often frustrates me is our lack of preparation for corporate worship times, both the preparation of myself as well as the congregation. We often show up to our corporate time together without having sufficiently thought about what it is that we are going to be doing together. We need a call to worship, a means to engage us, to get our minds and hearts in the right place. Depending on who you talk to will determine whose responsibility that call to worship is. I think it’s a joint effort, the individual as well as those who are actually leading.
With the hustle and bustle of the Fall, it’s too easy to get lost. I looked at my calendar the other day only to realize that November is here and Advent will be upon us in a matter of weeks. I can’t slow down the calendar. I can’t stop the world (and melt with you?) to prepare myself for things, I need to prepare on the fly, multitask and get it done.
I wonder if we might take the early descent into Christmas music and look at it more as an ascent into the expectancy of the Advent season. Sure, not every song that we hear is Silent Night or Joy to the World, but can the thought of Christmas and all that it means for those who put their trust and faith in Christ be enough to act as a call to worship of sorts? Can we take those songs and use them for good to start us into thinking about the greatest gift that we received?
I’m going to try it this year. Of course, it might not be as hard for me because of what I do, but every time that I hear a Christmas song, I am going to do my best to remember why we celebrate Christmas to begin with. I’m hoping that it might help and act as a Christmas call to worship.