A Lost Chirstmas Spirit
- Author: Mark Aune Senior Pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church, West St. Paul, MN
- Updated: 06/23/2008
- Copyright: Mark Aune, Senior Pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church, West St. Paul, MN
The following e-mail arrived in my mail box the Sat. before Christmas as I was preparing my sermon for Christmas eve. I hadn't preached on Xmas eve in 13 years. As I read the e-mail it felt as though God was speaking to me and reminding me of what is at stake in the preaching task on Christmas and Easter.
Needless to say I was moved by this young man's plea and it helped me prepare my message for the night. There are also stewardship questions to be addressed by this young man and I hope to have the opportunity to visit with him about these issues as well.
I was both humbled and touched by his e-mail as it captured for me what are I'm sure the yearnings and questions of a lot of folks who walk through the doors of our churches on a regular basis.
I'm writing you because I need your help. I've lost the Christmas spirit, and I just can't find it. It genuinely bothers me, because I've never actually identified with Scrooge as much as I have this year. And generally I've always kept my eye on the prize - that it's not about the season of giving as it is really about the season of the gift.
The funny thing about it is, Pastor Aune, is that I'm not destitute of material things at all - I have much to be thankful for. I'm blessed with a wonderful albeit goofy family, I just recently bought my own home, and I'm in good health with good friends. My car is even paid off. What bothers me is that my life on the whole has begun to revolve totally on money. I've lost track of the big picture and instead focused on the bottom line; I've even caught myself trying to figure out if I turn the heat down to 62 how much money that'll save me. And with the onslaught of the season - all with the same attitude of "If you don't buy your loved ones a Christmas gift from us, you'll ruin Christmas." I've lost my spirit. I've exchanged it for an eye on my wallet.
One of the things that I always enjoyed about Augustana during the Christmas season was Pastor Langness' sermons - because they were always a reality check. The season isn't a commercially designed event; it's just a simple birthday party. In fact one of the most vivid memories of Christmas I have is Pastor Langness asking the rhetorical question "What do I want for Christmas? I want the real Christmas story to be told." Then he tells it to all of us, and finishes with "that, and a dozen golf balls, is what I want for Christmas."
(on a side note, I've always felt that Christmas doesn't really start until I'm in Augustana and you remind me not to torch the place with my candle and to pray with my eyes open.)
I know this is your busy season, and you're probably a little worried about following in Pastor's footsteps this Christmas, but I'm not worried. I was in your first confirmation class at Augustana, and after that, I'm convinced you can survive anything. What I would like is that you continue the theme. I need my Christmas Miracle, Pastor Aune - I need to have my spirit re-energized with the true meaning of Christmas. Help me find it again when I see you this Christmas eve. Help me remember what the gift of the season really is - and not just golf balls.