Wednesday, December 07, 2005

No Christmas Day church for some evangelicals

I find it rather odd that megachurches around the country are closing their churches on Christmas day, ostenibly one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar (hat tip: Amy Welborn's blog, Open Book). Most of them are justifying it by saying that no one (or hardly no one) comes to church on Christmas day anyway, and for those who do, they're offering extra Christmas Eve services.

This seems really, really weird. I mean, first of all it's Sunday, which is the sabbath anyway, which means the churches would be open as a matter of course. It's not like Christmas is falling on a Wednesday or some "off-day" for churches and pastors. I've read the argument in several places that people just don't want to "go through lots of Christmas Eve services and then wake up six hours later to do Christmas day." Hmmm. And then there's the whole "we can worship God places other than a church" and "we want the pastor to have the time with his family like we have."

Lots of hmms for this Catholic here. First of all, we always have Masses both days, since Christmas is one of 9 Holy Days of Obligation where you have to attend, or else. :) My parish usually has 4 Christmas Eve (including Midnight Mass, which I as a member of the choir attend so I can sing), and two or three on Christmas Day, including the Mass at Dawn. Yes, Dawn. All of these are said by the parish priest. So a Catholic priest doesn't want to have time with his family? Um, I think he does. Yet he's a priest which means that service to his congregation comes first. I'm not saying that it doesn't for Protestants, but I find it odd that these members want their pastor to have the 'day off'. If he's a pastor, isn't his first priority serving God through his congregation? And doesn't that occassionally require sacrifice? I realize it's probably not as convenient for him as for a Catholic priest, who literally lives on the church grounds in the rectory and usually only has to walk a few feet to Mass, but still. It's Christmas and it's a Sunday . I think we could have the churches open, even if there's only 15 or so people there. Catholic parishes offer Mass daily, and at 7:00 or 8:00 AM I'm sure the churches are not packed. Yet the priest celebrates Mass for those present; to have a valid Mass, you only need the priest and one parishioner. That's it. And also the whole idea of you can worship God at home isn't foreign to Catholics, either. We pray at home--quite a bit, actually. But the Mass is different. The Mass is about community, and it's about, above all, receiving the Eucharist, which cannot be done at home (well, unless your bedridden or homebound in which case it can be brought to you. But that's a different story). But I guess this relates to the whole idea of Catholic vrs. Protestant worship ideas, which I won't get into here.

I just find this all very odd. If some of my non-Catholic readers could venture some reasonable explanations other than the ones listed below, I'd be very interested to read them.

1 comment:

Jen said...

As a reformed Christian-Catholic and previously raised in a traditional, if you will, Lutheran Church, I think that the idea of no worship on Christmas Day, even if on a Sunday, is more of the contemporary "MegaChurch" philosophy. It is the MegaChristian's faith on their terms, not on God's.