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Me: Hey, mom, which service are we going to on Sunday? (Christmas Day)
Mom: Oh, church is closed on Christmas Day.
Oh no they DIH-N’T.
That’s right. Closed. Church. On Christmas Day. Forgive me if I - the girl who goes to church only a few times a year - asks, do these people think they work for Banana Republic?
Apparently, this is the trend among many of the country’s “super churches”. The massive memberships require hundreds of volunteers, and apparently church officials seem to think that most members would just rather be “home opening gifts with their families” than going to church.
I realize I’m a bit of a hypocrite complaining about this since I almost never go to church. But I’ve honestly never heard anything more cockamamie in my life. So let’s dissect this a couple of ways. Let’s just say that of the church’s 10,000 members only 1,000 show up on Christmas Day. Isn’t it worth it to have at least ONE service (as opposed to the normal four services) for those 1,000 faithful who really want to worship on Christmas Day? And of those 1,000 let’s just say that 100 people have had a really tough year. They’ve lost a family member to cancer and it’s their first Christmas without them. Or maybe they’re contemplating suicide because the holidays are a tough time of year to get through when you’re depressed. Or maybe they’re alone or they don’t have anywhere else to go. Or maybe – and this is a really crazy notion – maybe they just want to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They actually care more about that than any presents they could possibly receive. Surely there are still a few of those people left. ?? Right?? Are there? Isn’t it worth it to scrounge up enough volunteers to have one service to help those 100 people who really, really need it or who really, really want to celebrate Christmas?
Let’s look at it from a business perspective. Take Jesus and Christmas and everything meaningful out of it. If you’re a church official, don’t you instinctively know that Christmas and Easter are THE biggest days of the year for you? The time to shine, the time when the non-regulars like me show up in their special hats and finery to not feel so guilty for not going the rest of the year and see what church is all about? Wouldn’t this be your big opportunity as a church to recruit some new members? Garner some more tithes? Maybe find a few new members that will eventually help you add on another annex and basketball court to the church?
I don’t know, I just don’t buy the whole “we don’t have enough volunteers” thing. For example, when you want to volunteer for the SPCA in San Francisco, you sign something, you commit to working at least (I believe) 12 hours per month for at least 6 months. If you can’t commit to that, you can’t be a volunteer. Period. Sure, church volunteering is very different from walking dogs at the SPCA. I thought about being a volunteer at the SPCA during ad school but after hearing the requirements, I realized I didn’t have the time to commit so I couldn’t do it. Maybe churches should consider something similar. Weed out the people who aren’t serious or ask in advance if they’re willing to volunteer during peak times of need or attendance.
And for those who’ve chosen the church as their profession, I have to ask, don’t they know they’ll be making some sacrifices? It’s kind of like a manager at Macy’s saying “I’ll work every day of the year EXCEPT the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas.” Those are the biggest days of the year and they’re NOT optional. If you want a career in retail, you give up those 2 days. Period.
Maybe this is just an elaborate reverse psychology-type move to get people like me in motion, to help us realize that we want the option of church on Christmas Day. By taking it away, you’ll make me want it more. Aha! You DO care! We GOT you!
Guess what? You DIDN’T get me. In fact, you’ve left me more confused about religion than ever. Church is always open. That’s what I was always taught, anyway. Does sending a DVD sermon to every member via the US Postal Service really compensate for the live service on the actual Day? Even an irregular churchgoer, heathen sinner like me knows that’s NOT What Jesus Would Do if He was here.
Macfisto, my spiritual guidepost…what say you? Anyone?