For the next four weeks, we'll be taking a look at how you can prepare your church for one of the best opportunities you have during the year to evangelize and attract new parishioners: Christmas. Using the themes of the four weeks of Advent as our guide (hope, faith, joy, and peace), I'll give you a few tasks to do each week on how to best prepare for this great evangelization opportunity.
Week 4: Peace
Does your church reflect peace?
Do people walk into your church and breathe a sigh of relief? I imagine that is the reaction we will have when we finally make it to heaven - a great, big sigh of relief as we enter into Christ's holy Presence, and all of our stress melts away.
Ideally, that's what walking into our church should feel like too, but I'm going to let you in on a little secret - if you don't feel at peace in your parish, neither will your parishioners. Trust me - I know it's hard to be at peace when you have a to do list. That's why I want you to throw away your to do list, and let God take care of it. At this point, you've prepared everything you can. You have poured your blood, sweat, and tears (hopefully only figuratively, but quite probably literally) into preparing for this beautiful season.
Now, it's time to let God take control. Because, believe it or not, if you aren't running around like a crazy person three minutes before the 4 o'clock Mass trying to find more seating, your parishioners will feel calmer (not to mention you).
So make your final preparations, and then sit back and watch God work in the lives of your parishioners this Christmas. This world is so chaotic, that sometimes all people are really craving for from religion is a sense of calm.
You've run the race. Now, it's time to let God work through your hard efforts.
Prayers for a hopeful, faithful, joyful, and peaceful Christmas to you and all who enter your churches this season.