"I don't think churches should be closed on Christmas because that's the only time I go."How long did you think it would take for me to post on this one?
As many of you may be aware, like many other mega-churches in the country, Southland Christian Church decided a few weeks ago not to hold worship services on the Feast of the Holy Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which some of you call "Christmas" (for some reason). I call it, "The Feast of the Incarnation," for short.
You might read the follow-up article by the Lexington Herald Leader's Frank Lockwood, who broke the story. In terms of the 'Net and editorials, as usual, Get Religion provides the best coverage here and here.
These are my major points about issue itself and the ridiculousness that has ensued:
- We live in an increasingly technocratic, urbanized and impersonal society. People move all over the place and by virtue of the jobs they have and all manner of obstacles, don't always get much travel time to spend with extended families. It is a gift for abundant life and indeed a witness to the Gospel that churches would refuse to impose religious obligations that would add to the constant break-down of relationships that are meant to be the gift of God.
- How many hypocrites have denounced Southland for this decision when they themselves would only keep the Feast of the Incarnation should it happen to fall on a Sunday? I have news: the tradition of Sunday worship is not primary as a witness to the Resurrection. The Life we share together, seen as a whole, is far more important. It's that "abundant life" thing again. Further, in terms of ritual, the Celebration of the Eucharist is considered in both the Scriptures and the Christian tradition to be far more important than the day of worship. How many of these folks who are so scandalized intend to share the sacramental meal that is at the center of our witness as the Community of the Resurrection?
- How can we bear witness to Jesus and our lives as part of that community if we devalue our families like the rest of the culture? Do these people really think it's so much more important to be dictating to people who aren't believers how they should celebrate the Feast of the Incarnation rather than living lives in the midst of our world that continue and extend the Incarnation?
- Christmas rites do matter. But most of you don't do them anyway. So to avoid being hypocrites, before you harass people for "taking the Christ out of Christmas," why don't you put the "Mass" back into it?
- And to paraphrase Christ, was the liturgical calendar made for people, or were people made for the liturgical calendar?
- Finally, Christian mission is about living lives together in love and hospitality, and offering that life to the people around us. The folks who comprise Southland Christian Church do not owe it to anyone to break up the rhythm of their lives together in order to provide religious goods and services to nominally Christian people who have only in mind to consume them so they can feel mildly "spiritual." Further, there is nothing to stop those members who want to worship together from inviting friends over to say prayers and even celebrate the Holy Communion if they so desire.
Pray for Jon Weece, and the people, deacons and elders of Southland Christian Church.
See also: "Herald Leader: Lighten Up"