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gosh, this is good

Here's a totally excellent email from a Presbyterian pastor to his congregation explaining why his congregation is having all regularly scheduled worship services on Christmas Day, which this year also falls on our weekly feast of Christ's resurrection -- AKA Sunday.

I think it's appalling that so many pastors are suggesting that it would be somehow un-Christian to hold services of worship on Christmas Day, as this might interfere with families' taking time together on Christmas Day. First off, are we just blowing smoke when we talk about being brothers and sisters in Christ or in the human family? If your family claims to be Christian, how can you say that spending time with your sisters and brothers is not “family time”? And if you're a parent, you can be sure that your children are paying attention to how you live when they're assessing how much you mean that whole Baptismal Covenant thing. Secondly, what about those in your congregation who don't live with biological family, don't have biological family close by, and/or aren't currently on good terms with biological family? When even regularly scheduled services are canceled so parents and children can open presents together at a particular time (what on earth is wrong with the afternoon of December 25 for opening presents together, or with having the big biological-family dinner on December 24, if going to church on December 25 would somehow render it impossible to do dinner properly on that day?), what message does that send to single adults about their role in the community?

I understand that there are a lot of people who will choose to celebrate Christmas after sundown on December 24 (which is perfectly fine in our sundown-to-sundown reckoning of holy days), as in fact many of us do customarily anyway. But I've never complained about needing to work on both the evening of the 24th and the morning of the 25th, and I don't understand why it's so much of a bigger deal to go to church and/or work in one when the 25th is a Sunday. At least it isn't the 24th on a Friday, the 25th and a Saturday, and the 26th on a Sunday ... that was quite a work schedule.

Hope these final hours of Advent are a blessing to y'all!

December 22, 2005 in Churchiness | Permalink


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I, too, have little patience with the complaint that church (whether on Christmas or any other Sunday) takes away from family time. I can't think of a better context for "family time" than being at church together.

Posted by: Rev. Dr. Mom | Dec 22, 2005 11:55:58 PM

That's excellent, Dylan. I've been totally baffled by this phenomenon...Do churches in the States not automatically have a whole raft of Christmas Day services, regardless of the day of the week? Here, we'd expect to see a reasonable quantity of once a year Christians on Christmas Day, though not as many as at Midnight on Christmas Eve,- churches are assumed to be OPEN for worship! As you say,last year, with 3 Christmas Eve services on the Friday, the 3 Christmas Day celebrations on the Saturday and then the usual Sunday pattern for St Stephen was a toughie (have to confess I escaped St S as I was on leave then...)but it's not about what's easiest for us!
sorry. I'm ranting here. Probably to do with having still got a sermon and a children's talk to prepare, plus 50+ presents to wrap.
Love and Christmas blessings, and thanks for all your inspiration during the year xx

Posted by: Kathryn | Dec 23, 2005 3:46:59 AM

I'm just home from my second mass in 12 hours (11pm Christmas eve, 11am Christmas morning) and very happy for the opportunity to have celebrated with two overlapping segments of my parish family in such proximity in time. That was my family time, and I know I am not alone in this. Cancelling Christmas services would deprived me of family time.

Though I am sure that the schedule was hard on our rector who has a young child.

Posted by: janinsanfran | Dec 25, 2005 6:31:48 PM

Thank you for this post. As a single adult in my church, I'm thrilled to see someone other than me commenting on this aspect of the idea of Christmas as a "family" holiday.

I don't know when this shift to Christmas Eve as a festival day happened. I'm in my mid-30s and as a Lutheran child, Christmas Eve was very much a precursor to the big-deal televised Christmas Day celebration.

Posted by: frog | Dec 27, 2005 11:15:56 PM

Our children are grown and gone. What are we supposed to do, sit by the fire and wish they had come "home"? Brood about how none of them is at a stage in life that includes going to church? Wish that three of them weren't Buddhists? Lament the demanding career of the fourth? I'm with you, Dylan, and I did the family thing, well, stepfamily thing. It's the STORES that should close, not the churches!

Posted by: Louise | Dec 30, 2005 12:54:08 PM

Hey Dylan--another reason not to close on Christmas: We got a handful of newcomers that day, who only come on Christmas! If we'd been closed, they'd have had to wait another 12 months to get to church... (sad, huh?)

Posted by: textjunkie | Jan 9, 2006 9:29:11 PM

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