A number of years ago I realized that it would be really helpful to the church to sing a few Christmas songs after Christmas. Our people needed to experience, sing, rest and reflect on the reality of Christ’s birth beyond the life craziness of Christmas week.
Here are a couple of reasons why we should consider singing Christmas music after Dec 25th.
1. It Teaches us Good Liturgical Habits – We tend to confuse and conflate Advent and Christmas in our churches. If we celebrate December 25th as the birth of Jesus then it makes sense to me that this monumental redemptive event deserves a few Sunday’s of our focus. IN FACT, for churches that follow the traditional Liturgical calendar Dec 25th actually begins the 12 Days of Christmas with the season of Epiphany following close after. So, most of the story that we sing in Christmas music actually doesn’t unfold until the weeks and months after Christmas. Allowing a few Christmas songs to cheat into January gives people some time to work out the beginning of their savior’s life and to cherish all that his birth means for us, our world, our future hope. When we do this it also helps to shape our Advent season with a greater focus on longing and second coming themes. I often have conversations with worship pastors who struggle to communicate BOTH Advent AND Christmas in the same seasons…they get confused and conflicting messages from pastors and other staff also struggling to pile in all that the December church season demands. (I would say this same logic applies to Easter – Sing the big Resurrection songs for a few weeks AFTER Easter!)
2. It Helps us to Rest in the Reality of the Incarnation – December is such a hectic season that our people rarely get a chance to REST in the glory of the Incarnation. Before we’ve put away the decorations, stockings and stuffers from Christmas we are rushing into the new year and making plans for Lent, Easter, world domination or whatever. When we sing Christmas songs after Christmas people listen and reflect on the lyrics in a much more profound way then is possible in the December haze.
3. The Incarnation is a Truth to Proclaim Every Sunday – When we quarantine Christmas music to the month of December we run the risk of our people thinking that the incarnation only matters one month a year. Every sunday at our church there is a focus on proclaiming Christ’s death and resurrection. Yet, we can’t arrive at either of these without the incarnation. By singing Christmas songs after Christmas you take a small step to widen God’s people’s understanding of their savior and the gospel ramifications of His birth!
4. It’s Counter-cultural and Subversive – Singing Christmas songs after Christmas is incredibly subversive, counter-cultural, and almost blasphemous in the world’s eyes. Yup. A great reason to do it! The World forgets about Christmas after Dec 25th…and for all that the world gives us we want to forget it too! (Unless you count the after xmas sales..again, not helpful!) But in this silence we can create some space to really teach our people about what Christ’s coming truly means. It means not the end of gifts and celebration — but continuing to celebrate and talk about the coming of the greatest gift we’ve EVER been given!
5. A Time to Explore the Darker side of Christmas – I often wonder if the second half of Mathew 2 ever gets preached in churches? After the glory, mirth and wonder of the birth the story gets dark quick. The Wisemen have to high tail it back the long way ’round the sea. Mary and Joseph are on the run to Egypt (which is never the right direction to be going in scripture), and Herod is murdering infants. What would Christmas feel like if our cultural imagination was also shaped by this side of the story? For many in our churches this IS a dark and depressing time. It would be a grace if we preached this more often. Here is a POST with some more resources and thoughts on helping your church worship the whole story of Christmas.
Hope that is helpful…a few brief thoughts. Would love to hear your feedback!
Songs We Have Used: