Today on the blog, Chris Smith, our Pastor of Worship Arts, shares some of his favorite Christmas traditions.
Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. I love the sights, smells, sounds, and, above all, the story behind this season. I love how everything becomes a little more beautiful when it is strung up with lights and covered with snow. I love the smell of freshly cut pine.
I have been known to play Christmas music throughout the entire year (one month is just not enough time to listen to everything!). I definitely get sentimental at this time of year, remembering Christmases past and those family members who are no longer with us. But above all, I love the incredible, wonder-filled story of God becoming man to rescue and redeem his creation.
Some favorite memories/traditions for me have been:
- Visiting Philadelphia at Christmas to see the Wanamaker light show and the Dickens’ Christmas Carol village
- Decorating the church where I grew up with close friends while listening to the original Michael W. Smith Christmas album (still a favorite album)
- Enjoying Christmas cookies that my mom and grandmothers baked (and tried to hide from us kids, with little success)
- Making my own Christmas tree in my room out of a cardboard roll and blankets
- Watching and re-watching It’s a Wonderful Life with my dad (it’s one of his favorite all-time movies)
- Attending, and now leading, candle-lit services with my church family (a couple of favorite ones were done outside in Arizona. Definitely unique!)
- Helping our kids remember the reason for the season with special activities, devotionals, and acts of kindness (my wife gets all the credit for this)
- Giving toward Living Word’s Christmas Offering and singing carols as we help ring the bell at Salvation Army Red Kettle locations
Christmas, more than any other time of the year, has its own soundtrack – fun songs, reverent songs, joyful songs. While I love many Christmas tunes, my favorite has to be “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” I love the beautiful melody and deep theology behind this classic hymn. Phrases like “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see” and “God and sinners reconciled” convey the mystery and mission behind the coming of Christ. The lyrics of Charles Wesley (written in 1739) and music by Felix Mendelssohn (composed about a century later) are a powerful combination.
One of my favorite Christmas movie scenes is at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life when they sing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” George Bailey, surrounded by his wife and kids, has been bailed out by the generosity of those who have been touched by his life. Yep, I freely admit that scene gets me choked up every time. The story of one man’s redemption, as George Bailey recognizes what he’s been blessed with, reminds me of my own redemption through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Have a blessed and wonder-filled Christmas season filled with his life and love.
Pastor Chris Smith