Out of sync with the season
Have you ever watched the military or cadets marching when they were … just a little … out of sync?
Have you ever listened to music from a band where the instruments are out of sync?
Have you ever personally played in a band that found itself out of sync? I know I have!
When we are out of sync, it doesn’t just look wrong or sound wrong, it feels wrong too.
The phrase ‘out of sync’ refers to a state in which two or more people or things do not move or happen together at the same time or speed or two or more things that don’t match correctly when they occur at the same time.
Throughout Christmas time I need to remember those who feel out of sync with the season.
The season seems to be speaking only of joy, celebration and family but there are people in all of our churches and throughout each of our communities who feel out of sync with all of those messages.
For a wide variety of reasons, there are people, sitting next to us in carol services and living next to us in our homes who are those who are experiencing sadness, sorrow and loneliness this year amidst the Christmas celebrations.
There is a tricky balancing act here for those of us who help to lead churches. We are right to celebrate all that is encouraging and good in the Christmas message and to offer that positive message to others with as much skill and creativity as we can convey but as pastors as well as preachers we know that isn’t the full story. We should also find ways to acknowledge and consider those feeling disconnected with the mood of festive celebration.
Today, I’ve been writing (or to be precise, cut and pasting) a Christmas Quiz for what we hope will be a fun evening as a church with our local neighbours’ residents’ association on Saturday night but my day has also involved hearing news for a variety of people of the most tragic and difficult kind for their loved ones and friends, as well as helping to plan a funeral and being involved in a planning meeting for our city’s response to those sleeping out in the cold tonight and throughout the winter.
I can’t ignore the negative in order to present the positive at Christmas and I don’t need to.
Here’s the key for us, when trying to strike the right balance.
Some amongst us may feel out of sync with the season (or at least the perceived messages of the season) but we need to know we are not out of sync with the Saviour and we are not out of sync with the reason for his arrival and we are not out of sync with the true message of Christmas.
He came for those ‘living in the land of darkness’ in all its forms. It is precisely because he stepped down into darkness that there is any reason to find hope and help.
If we get the balance right on Sundays throughout December we stand a good chance of equipping our people to get the balance right on all the other advent days. Our people’s frontlines are full of those who are not feeling joyful and ready to celebrate and our people are best placed to come alongside them.
The message of Christmas - the arrival of Immanuel doesn’t so much add icing to an already beautiful Christmas cake, but instead is living, walking, talking proof that the LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.