Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas in crisis?

The Christmas season --- oops, I mean the holiday season --- is shaping up to be quite interesting this year. On the one hand, I keep reading media reports about how our secular society is no longer content to simply remove Christ from Christmas; now they want to remove Christmas all together, replacing it with a nonoffensive, generic "holiday".

Needless to say, this "attack on Christmas" has been met with a great hue and cry from many Christians, to the point that entire organizations are being set up to counter this threat. "Christ is the reason for the season!" many are quick to shout. Personally, I like to think He is the reason for Christmas. Of course, one could also say that He is the reason for every season, not just winter, but I digress.

While many Christians are trying to "return Christ to Christmas", the other big story this year is that some churches are sending a different message entirely. Apparently Christmas isn't really about Christ as much as it is about family, and about giving church staff a day off.

Internet Monk has an interesting article and discussion about the mega-churches canceling their Sunday service on Christmas Day.

Personally, I found myself wondering how I would react to all this if I were an unbeliever reading the news about churches canceling services on what should be a Christian "high holy day". Even as a Christian, the whole thing strikes me as hypocritical. Here some within evangelicalism are loudly claiming that Christmas is all about Christ, while others are admitting that they would rather stay at home and celebrate Christmas just like their heathen neighbors, rather than trouble themselves to have a church service.

Another thing that struck me about this whole issue: it could be interpreted (at least by me) as an implicit admission that going to the typical mega-church in America is directly at odds with family life. Let's face it: how many children are there in the typical mega-church morning service? On Willow Creek's website, for example, parents are instructed to drop off their children at "PromiseLand". This is not offered as an option for those parents who would rather not have their children with them in the service. I've never been to Willow Creek, but I know of a number of churches where children are not permitted in the Sunday services; in fact, there are ushers stationed at the doors to prevent any children from entering.

It seems odd to me that church is no longer about families worshipping together. Back in the day when it was, I doubt that churches even considered canceling Sunday services on Christmas Day. Instead, the service became part of the family's celebration and worship.

To me, canceling Christmas services because they are inconvenient and interfere with family life is a symptom of a much greater problem.


  1. "I know of a number of churches where children are not permitted in the Sunday services; in fact, there are ushers stationed at the doors to prevent any children from entering."

    Years later when visiting in the area, I attended a worship service at the church that had been our "home" church when we were newlyweds.

    I was approached several times, and "encouraged" to leave my my nursing infant (less than two months old) in the nursery. I politely declined each time, told a deacon I'd sit in the back near a side door in case of baby noises. They told me they didn't want anyone "distracted" during worship. And if I left the service with the baby, I wasn't welcome to bring him back in.

    The church wasn't like this when we first started attending. But nearly a decade of embracing a certain teacher--well, I wasn't really surprised at how hostile they had become to infants and children.

    And I haven't even bothered visiting since returning to the States. Seems pointless, fruitless.

  2. "Embracing a certain teacher"?

    I wonder who that certain teacher might be. Hehe.

  3. My church has cancelled all but one service on Christmas Day -- we normally have three. It's a bow to reality. But on the other hand, we're having five services on Christmas Eve.