Nancy and I were in church spaces a lot for Christmas. We attended four services of four different denominations, in two days, all of them with fewer than 100 people in attendance. We heard a couple choirs, an a cappella service, a couple of organists. We sang carols and other songs using hymnals, and words on a screen, and handouts.
We had a great time.
I loved how many people were involved – in the music, in greetings, in readings, in lighting Advent candles, in responsive prayers and confessions. I loved listening to big sections of scripture, including the first chapter of John twice. I loved only being in charge of one of the services, and being able to not have any responsibility for the other three.
I understand why people get frustrated with “church”. I understand the debates that happen between the different groups we worshipped with. I can give you some of the histories, can explain the reasons for why there are tensions, can attribute some of the differences to things that matter.
That said, we had a great time.
We celebrated the birth of Jesus in the context of a much larger story that includes his life and death and resurrection and departure and return. We understood that when you sing, “Yea, Lord we greet thee, born this happy morning” ON Christmas morning, there is a feeling of textual integrity. We talked with people in our several circles who each love Jesus very much. We remembered Christmas.
I hope that you had moments during the last couple days where you remembered Christmas, too.
A couple requests: If you read Saint John of the Mall and found it helpful, would you leave a review on Amazon? And if you read it and found any typos, would you let me know?