I grew up in a small church. Small by the standard of the current culture of church. It is a great place, where the people took great care in training and teaching the bible. There are many people there that still pray for me, and that fact has always humbled me.
I grew up in a predominately Irish and Italian suburb, and so, it was also predominately Roman Catholic. Many of my friends went to Catholic school. So, being a non-Italian, nor Irish, and a Protestant Christian put me in the minority. It was also, in my opinion, the beginning of the end of the value of attending church. Despite being from any specific religious background, attendance of your local gathering place had lost its importance. I don’t have the time, but would suggest that this could easily be linked back to the decline of the family unit.
Long set up to tell you this… the church I grew up in probably seats 250 if it is packed. On a normal Sunday attendance while I was a kid was probably 80 – 125… so it always seemed half-full. Except on Christmas Eve, it was in fact standing room only. And it was also the only night that all of the “church kids” sat with their family instead of in the balcony, a long standing tradition. I would often see some classmates who came to church with their families. And it looked like it was very much against their will.
I was bitter. I was upset. How is coming to church on Easter and Christmas Eve compare with the fact that I was there every time the lights were on… my first camp trip was at 4 months old. It was a lifestyle. These people were cramping and crowding my church. And they were doing it on my favorite night. We had a candlelight service, and it was always very meaningful and beautiful.
I am now grown… and I travel to my parents’ home for the holidays and go to my sister’s church for Christmas eve, which has become a delightful new tradition. But, it leaves me not going to that old church’s service, and also never having attended my now-home church’s Christmas eve service. I would really love to attend my now-home church’s service, but I realize the value of spending time with my family.
Again, lot of info, and still haven’t got to why I decided to write in the first place… I realized this morning that it was really selfish of me to think the way that I did. To think that it was a bad idea for these people who dearly needed to hear the Good News to be in a church was crazy. To think that going to church twice a year isn’t better than not going at all is silly. Don’t know why it took me so long to get here. I am not advocating that this should be your goal, but, if you are like me… and it kind of bugs you when your church routine is cramped by visitors… just remember, this is what it is all about… I mean… there is a certain joy that warms my heart, that despite the motivation for being there, I know that there are many people who don’t know the amazing love of our Savior, and they will have the opportunity to hear that message.
A special encouragement to those who may be involved in planning or even may be speaking at Christmas eve… which seems like it goes without saying…It is my firm belief that it would be a grave mistake to not take this into consideration… what I respect greatly about the pastor of my sister’s church is that, he unabashedly presents the Gospel in his service…
I didn’t mean for this to become so long… but, I guess that is what I get for not writing for a few days…