Bill McKay, a lawyer, was recruited to run for the US Senate. He had no real political aspirations and even less political experience. Nobody expected him to win.
The election night results came in and McKay was announced the winner. Hearing the news, a befuddled McKay calmly asked his political consultants, “Now what?”
This scene came toward the end of “The Candidate,” a 1972 film starring Robert Redford as Bill McKay. Although the movie addresses issues related to campaign politics, McKay’s question is apt for Christians and churches as the holiday season draws to an end.
Christmas Comes to a Close
The decorating is done, the food has been eaten, and the presents unwrapped and played with. Yes, some churches will have a final post-holiday Christmas-themed sermon, retailers will be inundated with customer returns and exchanges, and many holiday decorations will remain up for another week or so. Nevertheless, the magic, the splendor, and the excitement are over.
As I perused my Facebook story feed (they call it a “news” feed, but “news” is highly subjective) I see many Christmas wishes and religious references posted over the past day or two. Many friends wrote about celebrating Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day. However, for many Christians, I imagine the religious celebration concluded along with the end of the Christmas Eve candlelight service. For many, I suspect that Christmas Day was less about celebrating Jesus’ birth and more presents, football, food, and naps.
Christmas is over. Now what?
What Happens Now?
Families will take down the holiday décor, radio stations will resume their regular rotation, and DVRs will once again record prime time favorites. Those who were able to take vacations will return home. Jobs will start back up again for those who had time off, and school will soon resume. Life for many will return to normal.
Churches will quickly return to their normal routines. Office hours will restart for those who have them, small groups will begin once again, and worship services will move on to their regular songs. Music ministers and pastors, however, will probably begin focusing on the upcoming Easter holiday and all that it entails.
Ah, yes, Christmas is over. Now what?
Religious Routine or Relationship Renewal?
As I ponder the activities of Christmas, especially as they relate to Christians and churches, I’m left wondering if the holiday season is more about following a religious routine than about renewing one’s relationship with Jesus. It’s easy for anyone, including me, to fall into the rituals of the holiday and become immune to any spiritual impact they’re supposed to bring.
We follow the same routines most every year, often making them more sacred by calling them “traditions.” Traditions are good, but traditions are not slave masters which we must blindly and unquestionably obey. When the tradition becomes more important than the meaning it’s intended to convey, then that tradition is our god.
There is more to Christmas than routines and religious ceremonies. There’s more to it than going to church, decorating a tree, and opening presents. This might shock some Christians, but there is more to Christmas than a baby born two millennia ago.
Yes, there is more to Christmas than a nativity scene on the public square. There is more to Christmas than which greeting people use (a childish fight, if I do say). Christmas is not about such things; it is about much, much more!
It is about a God who sent his son to do what no mere man could do: restore the relationship between man and God. It is about a God whose purposes and plans were accomplished and who should be glorified every month, every week, and every day. Christmas is about God’s grace! It is about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Christmas is about the salvation that he purchased and gave on Calvary.
And there is more!
Christmas is about worshiping that baby-turned-sacrificial-lamb. Not just in church services, but worshiping him through service. Christmas is about giving Jesus our lives on a daily basis. Christmas is about revealing Jesus’ love through personal and social evangelism. Christmas is about serving and worshiping God every day, every week, every month.
After the campaign ended and he had won the Senate seat, Bill McKay asked his consultants, “Now what?” As the Christmas season comes to a close, I ask churches and Christians (myself included), “Now what?”
What did we do? What did we accomplish? More importantly, what will we do now?