Saturday, December 17, 2005

my 2 cents

** DISCLAIMER: I am not advocating the canceling of church on a regular basis, and I strongly feel that the body is important to the growth of the individual. When I originally wrote this post, I was trying to present the other side of the issue to people who automatically thought ill of the churches that did cancel. If you want more explanation, please read the comments section. Thanks!

it seems as though everyone (well, in a church office anyway...) has an opinion on it, so i thought i'd post mine... feel free to post yours in the comments section.

with christmas falling on a sunday, several mega-churches have decided to cancel services, sparking national debate. (this is one of the numerous news articles on the subject.) these churches are being accused of going too far in trying to fit into "today's culture." my church is having services, and i will be there... both on christmas eve AND on christmas day... but i will certainly not criticize those who don't.

growing up, my family had several christmas-oriented traditions. some for christmas eve, some for christmas day. and though we always were flexible (like post-poning christmas eve events until my brother could make it up from fort benning on christmas morning), and things have changed over the years (3 spouses and 4 grandkids require such), these things will always remain a part of my perception of christmas. but this year... well, this year nothing is the same. why? because we all must be at church on christmas morning. now, don't get me wrong. i as well will be at church. if i had a family, i'm sure we would go to church. but my question to you is... why is it such a big deal? please don't even try to tell me that it's to "put Christ first." to me, that is nothing more than a christian cliche. i don't know, maybe it's just because of my perception as a pastor's kid... but to me, putting myself in the shoes of a parent- let alone a pastor's wife- getting the kids up and ready to go to church on Christmas morning doesn't demonstrate putting CHRIST first... it demonstrates putting CHURCH first. because gosh darnit, if the church doors are open, we'll be there. and even better, we'll probably be the ones there early to unlock them and stay late to lock them back up. i'm not saying we shouldn't go to church, i'm not saying there's anything wrong with having services, please don't misunderstand me. but what i am saying is that what happens in the home is a million times more important in the life of a child than being forced to go to church 18 times a week. the role my parents played in my faith was not because they exposed me to church, but because i saw them live it in their lives. if these churches want to cancel services to be with their family, let them.

npr also had an interesting brief report on it. i'll admit, they have some idiots speaking on both sides of the issue. (i think my personal favorite was the suggestion to have a "pajama service"- everyone wear pjs and bring their gifts TO CHURCH so everyone can open them at church together. are you kidding me??)

i think that throughout this whole debate, the best way i can sum it up is to agree with one of the pastors interviewed in the npr report. he serves at a church in colorado springs that IS having services... but he is obviously fed up with the fact that the whole thing has become such a big deal. regarding churches' decision to cancel- and the debate that ensued- his attitude is one i absolutely agree with: "the sky is not falling, the kingdom of God will move forward, and life will go on."

in the words of dr. stowell.... "amen, and amen."


Christopher Weeks said...

I must ask one question: Why is it so wrong to say, "Put Christ first?", isn't that akin to "Do all things for the Glory of God?" And how do you do all things for the glory of God? Through your behaivior. I am not making an issue with the whole Christmas issue, but rather the argument. Because I have heard many people say, "Why even go to church, I can put Christ first when I walk in the woods or read a good book while I sleep in each Sunday." "Why get baptized, isn't the heart more important than the action." "Why make your kids go to church, cant they see the genuineness of your life at home?"

For me, there is an outward reverence and respect I show for God when I worship God with a community of believers. I think God is pleased by the corporate recognition of his greatness. I am not lobbying for legalism, just attacking the point of the argument. Because what if your parents said they loved Christ, were kind at home, but never went to church? This happens all the time at homes and what kids learn is that individualism overrides the authority of the local body. The individual over the community.

Does God want us to meet in community or not? If not, this whole church thing is a bunch of non-sense in the first place - is it not? Because I sure dont know why I make my kids get up either when they can sleep in and watch a preacher on tv.

I'm sorry Sara, but you asked.

earl of lennox said...

"gosh darn it" that was my favorite line. I vote for church, it only comes once every so many years, so why not. family traditions are over rated anyhow. I also think the last comment sums it up well. if we get our eyes off others, judging them on the basis of their christmas church attendance, then we might actually put our attention on what really matters - God come in the flesh and the thanksgiving that will pour from our hearts this time of year. "and everyone said..."

JDG said...

Don't forget that the church is the vehicle that Christ chose to further His kingdom, so while it may seem inconvenient to go to church on Christmas day, this really comes down to the question: "Why are we celebrating in the first place?" Is this a family holiday or is this a religious memorial?

Sara said...

ah, so this has raised quite the stir… and rightly so, i’d say. you know, if people were up in arms about churches HAVING services, i’d probably be fighting for that side instead… it’s the antagonistic side of me…

i never said going to church was wrong. i agree with everything you all said. i as well, chris, would say that people need the nourishment of the body- not just walks in the garden. yes, josh, we need community. (i am a fisher, too, remember… of course i believe strongly in community!) and jesse, i agree that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, not a celebration of family. not only do i agree with these things, but i could defend this side possibly more veraciously than i do the opposite… which is maybe what it comes down to… my point was not to argue for the canceling of services, but to present points for this side.

i probably was not clear with this purpose. i was not saying that everyone should cancel services. i was simply saying that we should not criticize others for doing such. (ok, ok, maybe i was a bit to harsh with the “don’t even try to tell me…” bit… see, things like that- “it’s to put Christ first”- yes, it CAN have genuine meaning… but does it always? I have heard more than a few people say things like that simply as a cliché- so maybe YOU don’t mean it as such… but that’s the connotation it has in my mind. cynical, yes. jaded, probably.)

so, that’s where i stand. when it comes down to it, i think community IS important and we should value the local church in our lives. i just don’t think that a church deciding to cancel on Christmas means that they don’t. ah well…

as i sit here, in the church office while a funeral for a 21 year old is taking place only a few feet away, it doesn’t seem to matter quite as much anymore…