I rarely blog on a Saturday night on a weekend when I'm teaching. It's a strange time to be me. I prepare as best I can to lead up to teaching on a Saturday. Several months of planning and preparation lead to one moment and then it's over. But the stranger part is that the moment comes again twelve hours later. (Then again right after that. Then again after that.)
On Sunday, there isn't really enough time to change much or even think about how the last Celebration went. I just try to stay focused and make subtle adjustments. After Saturday night though, I have twelve hours. Normally I'll think about how things went on the way home and wake up an hour early to rework the parts that need attention. On rare occasions I don't need to do that at all...and on a few occasions I've totally changed everything. Tonight feels more or less like a normal Saturday. I generally said what I wanted, but it all felt a little disconnected. I have some ideas on how to fix that. Part of my challenge is that I don't write much down so I have to remember what I said and what needs to change.
One idea that I plan on exploring more tonight is the idea that, when it comes to Christmas, most of us our wired to be either overly cynical or overly sentimental. As for me, I have an amazing capacity for cynicism. I sort of excel at it. I'm an INTP on the Myers-Briggs. There's no doubt that if we added the a fifth category of cynicism/sentimentality that I would be an INTPC. I see everything wrong with Christmas. Trust me.
It seems to me that the polar opposite of cynicism could be sentimentality. Stanley Hauerwas, a theologian hero of mine, says that sentimentality, not atheism, is the greatest enemy of the church. He equates sentimentality with practical atheism, saying that when we no longer truly believe the gospel we substitute the reality of the Jesus event with meetings, songs and patterns that create "warm feelings" to replace honest conviction.
Living in a world without sentimentality or cynicism seems unrealistic, and frankly undesirable to me. However, allowing our cynicism or sentiment to control us seems like a plan for disaster. I committed tonight to be less cynical this Christmas and challenged the sentimental people to pull back enough to have fresh eyes to see beyond nostalgia toward the remarkable claim that a baby entered human history on a secret mission to destroy evil with the power of good.
My prayer for VCC this month is that this Christmas will be looked back on as a season of salvation. That's something we all need and no amount of cynicism or sentiment can fill that need...only Jesus can.