Saturday, December 19, 2009

Reflections on Celebrating Christmas

I returned to Oak Park for a three and a half week break just a couple days ago. As is my custom, I like to reflect on some of the experiences of the past term.

One major highlight in the second half of the semester was the annual Wheaton College Christmas Festival; this year, titled Rejoice! The Symphonic Band and Symphony Orchestra alternate performing on this event from year to year; as a result, I was again performing on the festival this year as a member of the Symphony Orchestra. However, I was also assigned to stage manage the event. It worked out rather well: the orchestra only performed on the second half of the program, so I was free during the first half and before curtain to run the backstage operations. Putting together such a large and complex production like the Christmas Festival is never easy, and a couple of the rehearsals during the week before the concerts were moderately stressful, but in my opinion (and judging by the reactions of the audiences), we pulled off two very successful performances. You can watch a video of the Christmas Festival here (look for “Christmas Festival – December 5, 2009”).

More than once, the idea that events like Wheaton’s Christmas Festival detract from celebrating the birth of Christ has come to my attention. I definitely agree with the argument that one can become so involved in producing such an event that he or she is unable to focus on Christ, and that is a very real danger. But if we begin each planning meeting and rehearsal and performance with prayer, as we do at Wheaton, then our hearts are more likely to be properly focused. And I happen to think that the productions themselves are very valuable to a Christian community’s celebration of Christmas.

Some might argue that Jesus came in extreme humility and thus we should avoid extravagance in our observance. I respect that point, and if simplicity brings you closer to Christ than extravagance, then far be it from me to suggest anything that would hinder your relationship with the Lord. My argument, however, is that we can have extravagant productions and still model Christ’s humility. The key is obvious – the production has to be about Christ, and about sharing his love with the audience, rather than about showing off our skills. And furthermore, does not the King of kings deserve all our talent and resources? (And who gave them to us in the first place?) What better way to give them to him that by pooling the talents and resources of an institution like the Wheaton Conservatory to produce such an event that not only celebrates the birth of Christ but also testifies to the birth of Christ to an unbelieving world? I consider it a great privilege and honor to have been so involved in this year’s production, and it is and was my prayer that all the work I put in may be used for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom.

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. The commercialization and secularization of the season in the Western world is a bad sign to some, but I believe that God is yet at work, and that Christmas is perhaps the best time of year for Christians to share the love of God with the unbelieving world. To return to my main discussion: everyone likes a Christmas concert, so why not use that event to tell of the Incarnation? I have never investigated this question, but I would be interested in knowing whether or not churches have more seekers in December than at other times of year.

May our Lord bless you and your loved ones this Christmas.

This is Rubio, over and out.