Several years ago, a few of us were lamenting how we’d come to the end of an Advent season exhausted and sensing we’d missed it again: the awe-inducing, soul-satisfying mystery of the Incarnation. No wonder there was a dread at the beginning of each new season as we prepared to proclaim, celebrate, and worship around the story of God entering our world as one of us. Something was just not right. A creeping kind of idolatry was consuming us along with our congregations.

 

We were drowning in a sea of financial debt and endless lists of gifts to buy. We had believed the marketing lie that the spending of money is the best way to express love and, in true American fashion, “more must be better.” (Such a tale is still convincing enough to make “believers” out of non-Christians and Christians alike.)

 

It was in that moment of brutal honesty that we admitted our fear: on Christmas Day, God would come near—as he always does and always is—and we would miss it yet again.

 

So we decided to try an experiment: What if, instead of acting like bystanders to the nativity, we led our congregations into the nativity story as participants?

 

We didn’t know what to expect, but we knew we needed to reclaim the story of Christmas, the foundational narrative of the church. As we strove to see the birth of Christ from inside the stable instead of inside the mall, our holiday practices began to change.

 

Watch the first session of the study:

 

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