If your hair is currently on fire because of your vital role in crafting a powerful, life-changing, memorable, innovative and yet traditional Christmas service for your church, you likely cannot imagine there is much you would miss if you no longer carried that weight. For over 20 years, I was an integral part of designing our Christmas services at Willow Creek, and some of what I remember still makes me break out in a sweat! I remember the panic of no time to shop for gifts, of wrapping presents late at night on Christmas Eve, of disappointing some friends or family members when I just was not available for certain holiday gatherings. I actually remember going to the grocery story in early December and being horrified when the expiration date on the gallon of milk was December 24 – I panicked, “We will never be ready on time!”
But now that my Christmas season is more “normal,” without that leadership role, I am somewhat surprised to admit that there are some aspects of the entire experience I do miss. So maybe it will encourage you to know what they are – a quick list because none of you has time to read much of anything right now!
- I miss the joy of team. Even when many details were just not coming together, I loved the sense that we were totally in this together, that we had one another’s backs. We would debrief after rehearsals, and each person was genuinely seeking to serve the others. And there were those moments when we would catch one another’s eyes, when we sensed God using us, that were truly anointed and magical.
- I miss the fabulous food in between services. Our church graciously provided all the volunteers with absolutely incredible meals between the 10 or 12 services stretching from around Dec. 19-24. We all looked forward to each new culinary surprise, and to the beauty of an ice sculpture as part of the décor. There’s nothing like food to motivate volunteers!
- I miss the sense of wonder as the congregation first walked in and saw the design of that year’s set. You could almost hear the audible “oohs and ahhs” as the people gazed on the beauty of each year’s look.
- I miss the transcendent moments of surprise. No matter how well we plan, none of us can produce a supernatural moment the way our God can. When all of our human effort was exhausted, bound by our limits, I loved those rare times when God did something that far exceeded any of our dreams and plans, when clearly the Spirit had deeply touched someone with the perfect and precise message required.
- I miss driving home, spent but deeply satisfied. There’s nothing that can possibly compare to the fulfillment of knowing that we gave God our best, and that He is delighted with our sacrifice.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you who are giving up so much of your personal Christmas season in order to serve your church and community. May you treasure the positive parts of the experience as you live with all that is sometimes hard, frustrating, and exhausting. On behalf of all of us who receive the gift of your efforts, I thank you. Believe it or not, one day there is much of this you will actually miss…