A Taste of Christmas

Amy Welbourne weighs in on the "Closed for Xmas" phenomena:

So no, this is not just about celebrating "Christmas" at times that may or may not be convenient. What the conversation reveals is the poverty of the non-liturgical Christian traditions in this regard, and our own poverty, when we who are the heirs and guardians of 2000 years of reflection and tradition, turn our backs on the rich theological and spiritual feast that's ours, and start thinking, like the rest of the world, about what we have to squeeze in, so that the religious part of Christmas is taken care of, and the real celebrations can begin.

I have to say that the coverage of "Closed for Xmas" story by the Revealer —which barely mentioned it—and especially by Get Religion —which given the liturgical leanings of its bloggers, has basically used the story to assert their own tradition's superiority to megachurches—has been disappointing.

Neither has asked the $64,000 question, which is, "why have these churches dropped Christmas for Christmas Eve?" (Scot McKnight has taken a shot at answering that question.)

Part of the answer, IMHO, is related to Amy's post about the "rich spiritual and theological feast." The problem is that many people raised the Christian church in the US--mostly in Mainline and Catholic churches--have cut off all ties with the church. (There's a reason why Willow Creek is sometimes referred to as the largest Catholic church in Chicago.)

My family is one of those which cut ties for the church. We made our way back, thanks to a teenaged friend of my brothers--who invited us to the Covenant church--but if not for Joey Clark (my brother's friends) we might still be outside the church.

These folks who left the church, will still, out of longing or nostalgia or seeking or some other emotion--will come to church on Christmas Eve. They cannot enjoy the feast that Amy referred to, because there's no room in their lives for God, and to taste of the spiritual riches of the banquet would overwhelm them.

So the megachurches offers them a taste, hoping to entice them back for the feast. They have made church "bite sized" and accessible--so that people will take the first step toward God. (Whether the megachurches have gone the next step, in bringing people to full discipleship in Christ, is another story.)

If reporters, bloggers, pastors, pundits and theologians will be willing to look past the "can you believe this" headlines, they'll find a much more troubling--and hopeful--story there.


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