Because Nothing Says Emmanuel Like Ice Skaters


I think a fun game would be posting a series of pictures and having people guess whether it’s a church or a concert or playhouse or…you get the idea.  Some would say if you can’t tell the different then that’s a victory.

The following was posted by pastor Jared Wilson on Twitter two days ago:
“Churches, you don’t need to create “Christmas experiences.” Save money and your staff from burnout and still save souls by preaching the gospel.”

I breathed a deep sigh and felt my soul rejoice as I read that tweet. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops (which in social media world means I retweeted it and posted it on Facebook).

But he said what I’ve said for some time now. Unfortunately I could never say it too loudly (though I did since I was arrogant) because I was on church staffs and grew up in a church in which the Christmas experience was paramount. Fog, lasers, camels, giant trees, ribbon climbing, and remarkable budgets.  You name it; I’ve seen it.

The deep dissonance within my soul was palpable each year. Sometimes months before Christmas the internal dread would begin. Some would say I was immature. I agree, wholeheartedly.

But it felt wrong.

Jesus came in obscurity, to the middle of nowhere, to a borrowed manger via a borrowed womb. Why? To lead a band of misfit disciples and die for the sins of the unrighteous on an obscure hill and be buried in a borrowed tomb.

The first Christmas was simple. So why do we complicate it? Why do we feel like the Incarnation needs our help being spectacular?

Let’s put up our trees and lights and give some presents. But may we never forget that Christmas had a different tree in sight, namely, the cross. The light of the world was murdered. For our sins.

Many of our churches will welcome people who don’t come any other time of the year. Why not show them what the world cannot offer?


5 thoughts on “Because Nothing Says Emmanuel Like Ice Skaters

  1. On this topic, I seem to remember sitting in Eric Puljung’s den one year and hearing you say something to the effect of, “You know what else is cool? Feeding the hungry.”

    That story gets repeated often by me, FYI.

    • Incredible memory, J.D. That sounds like something I would say. I know I didn’t handle my emotions or convictions well in those years, but even as I’ve matured the convictions have remained.

      Patrick L Mitchell Lead Pastor Bunker Hill Christian Church Bluff City, TN (423) 538-5777

  2. Yes, yes, 1000 times yes! Thank you for articulating this with the humility to admit that you may not have always said it humbly. I am with you there, but I am often struck by how quickly the “arrogant” or “self-righteous” card gets thrown at us when we express a dissenting opinion. It also seems that the more “God has blessed a ministry” (i.e. blessing=numerical growth, which is probably more appropriately attributed to good marketing and brand management), the more quickly that card seems to be thrown at criticism. I am sure that this blog post probably involved some palm-sweating for you given the associations of many who read/follow/friend you, so thanks for having the courage to say something unpopular. May God be faithful to His promise to draw men to himself as you lift high His Son this season!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Natalie. Of course I thought about what people would think, but I think too often we mistake being Christian for being nice and never ruffling feathers. All the best to you guys!!

      Sent from my iPhone

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