The Very Rev. John McGinty, canon for formation in the Diocese of Long Island, wonders how to make our churches stand out amidst during Advent when homes and businesses all around them are bedecked with Christmas decorations. He writes:
I am not suggesting that our churches decorate now for the Christmas season. To do so would be to betray the reality of Advent, and if the church does that, this gorgeous season so little kept will be a goner. What I am suggesting is that either:
we need to find a way, using greens and Advent colors and light, to allow our church buildings to say out loud now, "This is Advent, and it counts for something, and we are joyfully and intentionally and lovingly preparing for the coming of the Savior!" or
we need to decorate our church exteriors amazingly well with Christmas decorations once the Christmas season actually begins and for its entire length, while early-bought Christmas trees languish on the sidewalks waiting for the sanitation truck as early as noontime on December 25.
Of the two possibilities, which are not mutually exclusive, I want to advocate especially for the first. If we are keeping Advent, let us look like it outwardly to the world around us, the world we serve in Christ's name. It seems to me that if the rest of the neighborhood is lit up with joy - whether informed or not - and the neighborhood churches are dark, we are in effect confirming the worst images of Christianity in the general population: out-of-touch, crabby, distanced from people's lives.
How does your church decorate itself during the Advent and Christmas seasons? What does the exterior of your church look like right now?