Monday, December 12, 2005

Church on Christmas Day

Written by a Methodist minister in Arkansas>>Yes, Virginia, We Are Having Church on Christmas>>Dear Virginia,>Thank you for your letter. I understand why you are shocked and>puzzled that the church where you attend has canceled services because>Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year. You are absolutely correct>in saying Jesus should be the "reason for the season" above all. In>fact, the word "Christmas" itself is a combination of two words,>"Christ + Mass" which describes a worship service dedicated to the>remembrance of the birth of Jesus. From looking at its origins,>therefore, a Christmas without a worship service is not really>Christmas at all. For hundreds of years the majority of the world's>Christian communions have found the time to hold worship services for>Christ on His birthday, on whatever day of the week it happens to>occur. After all, it is not OUR birthday is it?>>Most of the churches that I know of who are canceling their services>are the large, urban churches which we have come to know as>"megachurches." These churches have become large by catering to the>consumer mentality of our culture. Their decision is a reflection of>this. On the national news the other night I saw where Willow Creek>Community Church near Chicago and a number of other well known huge>churches, as well as Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock have>canceled services for what used to be a high holy day, saying they>wanted people to spend time with their families. But one employee from>Willow Creek let slip the real reason for the>cancellation: She said "it would not be an effective use of staff and>resources." Since they anticipate low attendance, they feel it would>not be worthwhile to pay the orchestra, sound and lighting crew,>custodians, and other costs which add up to the cost of holding a>worship service in a huge church. In other words, the decision was an>economic and financial decision rather than a spiritual one. I cannot>tell you why these churches could not just be honest with us about why>they are not holding services on Christmas Day.>>The last time I remember Christmas falling on a Sunday was 1994. As a>pastor I privately wondered if very many people would come to church>that day. To my delight and surprise, we had almost the level of>attendance as usual, with a number of guests. Many of these guests>were family members from out of town. Knowing this is a family time,>they said what better thing to do with your family on Christmas than to>worship the living Lord together, as a family? The one hour worship>service did not seem to detract too much from the exchange of gifts,>consumption of food, watching of television, or any other traditional>experiences of family. If Christmas is more about family for some>people than about Christ, they might view Christian worship as an>intrusion on their family time. But there are some people who say>"Let's keep Christ in Christmas," and really mean it. They honor Jesus>by keeping Him first in their families, and in turn they find that>their families are blessed. They do not feel or act as though they are>having to squeeze the baby Jesus into their busy Christmas schedule.>>Those who attended church on that Christmas Day in 1994 enjoyed a very>simple, quiet, holy time with their Lord, a most meaningful time of>worship and adoration. It was kind of like the Holy Birth>itself: Nothing elaborate, just a time of intimacy with the God who so>loved the world.>>No, Virginia, I don't really think our commercial and consumer culture>has completely taken over the minds and hearts of those who still>cherish the holy days of the Church. For my part, I will be in church>that day and I will be delighted to worship with whoever wants to come.>I hope for everyone, whether they come or not, that the day will be>most holy and blessed for them. Remember the Gospel. "The light shines>in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome the light." And it>never will.>> Yours in> Christ, Bro. Bill


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home