Tuesday, December 27, 2016
More Post Christmas Musings
When I was pastor at the Vidalia United Methodist Church, a much younger preacher came to serve a church in one of the adjacent small towns. Even though the congregation was nowhere near large in numbers, he planned a traditional three hour Good Friday service during that first year. I remember asking him, "What will you do if no one comes?" I also remember his answer, "I will read the scripture lessons and pray the prayers. Some things are important enough you just do." It has been over twenty five years and as is obvious, that young preacher left a lasting impression and taught me a lesson at the same time.
This year the calendar put Christmas Day on a Sunday. As I noted the response of some to that uncomfortable dilemma, I remembered my old friend. In response to Christmas being on Sunday, some churches made the decision to adjust schedules, have worship on Saturday, or not have any services at all. The rationale is understandable. "Everyone will want to spend time with family on Christmas morning," or, "No one is going to come so we might as well make the best of it." While the message being sent to the church members is supposedly a family friendly message, I wonder if it might not also be a message that says, "We don't expect folks to say that the celebration of the Christ event is going to take precedence over all the other stuff of Christmas." I fear it is the message of lowered expectation, the message of accommodation, the message of finding the easy way.
Maybe all of this speaks of being old fashioned and out-of-date, but I would rather think it speaks of being out-of-step which is more where the church should be than where it often seems to be. Jesus said, "...the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life..." (Matthew 7:14) The gospel has always been the message of sacrifice, the message of the hard way and there is always something sad about the message being compromised for the sake of expediency.