The more I read about the mega-churches closing on Christmas Day, the more thankful I am that I'm Catholic. So many of these stories seem to revolve around the idea that liturgy at these churches is like a Broadway play--there's musicians, singers, readers, coffee people, greeters, what have you. It's nutty! To have a Catholic Mass you need a priest and a parishioner, and sacramentary, and hosts in the tabernacle. That's it. It's about as bare bones as you can get. If these churches don't want to have a big service, then don't have one. Have a big vigil service and have quieter services Christmas Day, but have something . It's Christmas! It's Sunday! Those are two very very BIG reasons to have some sort of service, whatever it is, on that day. I don't really buy the explanation that people want to "spend time with their families". OK, but whatever happened to "keep holy the Sabbath day?" Or the fact that it's Christmas and you should have something to celebrate the Lord's birth on His actual birthday?
I don't know. Maybe I'm a little weirded out by this because Catholics do Christmas big time (OK, at least we do at my parish). We have three Christmas Eve Services--Vigil services. They're about an hour and a lot like regular Mass, except the Christmas stuff is up (trees, manger, the Church mice :) ). Then there's Midnight Mass (where I will be singing) which begins around 11, 11:15 with a fourty-five minute choir set (we practice very hard for this, so y'all better appreciate it!). Mass itself begins at precisely midnight. The Gloria is sung for the first time in four weeks and the church bells chime. The Mass is a little longer than usual, but it's so magical--the cold, the snow (usually), the place crammed with people you only see at Midnight Mass (no, not the Christmas/Easter people--they're usually at the vigil. But the kids I knew in elementary school who are home from college or wherever...you know what I mean). It's just awesome. Then there's one Mass on Christmas Day.
All of these Masses have seperate readings and emphasize different things. It's only at the Midnight, for example, that you hear the Christmas story from Luke. The vigil is the nativity from Matthew (with the genaology thing that takes forever). And John is the reading for the Masses during the day ("In the beginning, there was the Word"). So it's a totally different thing at each Mass. I just can't understand why these churches would choose to neglect the day of the Incarnation so totally. I understand wanting to spend time with your family--Catholic priests do, too--but isn't your first obligation to the congregation?