Advent has begun; another way in which the church is counter cultural. We anticipate the coming of Christmas for four weeks. We prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. Then, we celebrate Christmas until epiphany (Jan. 6th), or at least that is the ideal. Very often, we give into the culture and celebrate Christmas before Christmas and leap over the season. There are benefits and drawbacks to both holding the traditional line and also to going with the cultural flow.
Maintaining the traditional Christmas season is a way to witness to the world that Christ is the important part of Christmas. All the preparation is for his coming, not for Santa or for gifts.
Celebrating in a more culturally relevant way, such as singing Christmas songs before Christmas or putting the baby in the manger before Christmas eve, may reach more people. The message that Christmas is about God born as a child may reach hearts and ears that are not in church for the traditional Christmas services.
Whatever way that your church chooses to celebrate the coming of Christ, we know that Advent is a time to examine our hearts once again. It is a time to be humble before God. It is a time to acknowledge that God is in control and chooses to come to us, to reach out in love. It is a time to turn our lives once more over into the hands of God.