Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Rescuing C 'n E Christians

It has become a minor sport for clergy and some church folks, to whine about “C ‘n E” Christians ("Christmas and Easter", for you uninitiated). I remember a few years ago the pastor at my home church, on Christmas Eve preached to folks who only show up on large festival holidays. He didn't offer a gospel message, but snapped “Where are you the other Sundays of the year!?” with venom dripping from his lips.

Awkward silence. It was a small miracle that no one got up and left.

I guess some folks assume that people come to church on Christmas out of nostalgia, or because they’ve been dragged by the ear by their grandma who wants the whole family together, or because they want a little religion to spice up their holiday celebrations.

And all this may be true. But I wonder if it is an oversimplification born out of pastoral frustration than out of a true concern for the integrity of the gospel. I wonder if many of the people who come to our churches on Christmas Eve come with a genuine hunger for God. Some say they’d rather be home, watching TV or playing video games, sipping eggnog, warming their feet by the fire because they’ve lost whatever faith that they might have had once. Many wish God could be alive to them once again. And, in the back of their minds, they’re hoping to be confounded with the undying message of the Invisible God who was born among us as a child.

This is my assumption as I prepare for Christmas worship. That people are coming seeking the child in the manger, anxiously waiting to hear the promises of heralded by the angels: , “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

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