Working at Christmas
I love Christmas.
Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a sub-arctic climate where I experienced a beautiful, white Christmas every year as a kid. Maybe it’s the magic of Christmas and the HOPE that I’m reminded of.
I am one of those people who wishes for three or four months to savor the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. The lights and trees, the treats and traditions; I love it all. Except for the fact that I am usually enjoying a lot of it on my own because this is my husbands “busy” time of year.
No, he doesn’t work at the North Pole. And he doesn’t work at the mall. But his hours are just as long and his work is even more important. And he’s not alone. There are many people who work and volunteer in a similar way during the Christmas season. They are those who work at a church.And while 25 years ago Christmas services and programs may have experienced a bump in attendance from out-of-town relatives, churches today experience a huge surge in visitors.
It requires the work of many people. And yet, this tribute is not even to say thanks to those hard-working teams. I want to say “thank you“ to those who stand behind them.
Thank you to the spouses of all the creatives. Those who lend their skills in designing and creating the “perfect” Christmas atmosphere. I’m talking to those married to the vocalists, band members, directors, coaches, pastors, managers, worship leaders and the many technicians who work the long hours leading up to the week of Christmas. Everything will appear magical to the visitors who pour in the doors; the music, the decor, the message of hope. But you know the time and energy it took to make this magic happen.
While everyone else sees the glamor and “amazing opportunity” of being able to work at a church, you know that sometimes, it’s also just “a job”. And while it may be the best job to have most days, there are still weeks of overtime, and you are tired of feeling lonely.
But that’s exactly why Jesus came. To meet us in the lonely places.In the hard and dark places. In the “struggling to find joy” places.
Trust me when I say: you are not alone. I understand that “getting ready for Christmas” means you are prepping without them. You are the parent doing all the Christmas activities and shopping, wrapping and planning because they are rehearsing and planning.When you cry because you miss your spouse, and then get angry because you find yourself “counting down” until that last service is over— know that I’ve been there too. When you tuck your kids into bed, heartbroken to tell them, again, that “mommy/daddy won’t be home until really late tonight,” and you see their eyes fill up with tears; I’ve been stood in that moment. When you shake your fist at the hours and place that they work, and the ridiculous things they are asked to do, it’s ok; others have done the same thing.
And at the end of the week when you have sat and watched the hard work of so many coming together, when their efforts remind you of the hope and joy that Jesus brought, and you are overwhelmed with guilt for ever being so upset and whining and grumbling in the first place, know this, you are sitting in good company. It’s great that you feel such pride for the abilities and opportunities that your spouse is getting, but your sadness is also a real emotion, and it’s okay to feel that too.
At Christmas, it’s easy to feel sorry for myself, but then I sit through a service, where I can see my husband’s hard work, and I have to fight back the tears. I love to see him thrive in this place of his creative gifts and passion intersecting. It makes me so proud to know that his best efforts and abilities are being used to introduce thousands of people to the reality of Jesus. I am so proud when I watch him work and so excited to stand beside him in this ministry. And because we are a team, his successes at work are mine to celebrate as well!
So, if you’re looking at the calendar, excited because in a few days “it will be over,” I want to caution you: don’t miss it. The thrill of HOPE. The Reason for the Season. The Savior who put on human skin to dwell with us. The King who gave up His throne and exchanged it for a manger.
I’ve been reminded over and over this holiday season that the Savior of the world came on Christmas... for me. And He came for you, friend.
To those who have a loved one who is working this Christmas, thank you.
For the hours you spend serving so that they can do their job with excellence, thank you.
For the ways you support, love and encourage your spouse to keep going (especially when they want to throw in the towel – and you want them to as well), thank you.
They are better because of you. And their team is stronger because of you. And the lives that are affected for eternity; it is also because of you.