Don’t invite anyone to the Christmas Service?
I read “The Rev’s” blogs regularly. He’s a challenge to ordinary thinking and it encourages me instead of discourages me with the standard group think and reinforcing what’s not worked for more than a century… Take a read of this blog today:
If you build it they will come (my sad little world!!!)
I responded to a twitter message that was retweeted by someone I follow. The message went something like… 80 percent of non churched people said they would go to a Christmas service if invited so get out there and invite someone.
My response was something along the lines of “why? so we can inoculate them with a small dose of consumer Christianity that keeps them from catching a real cross following discipleship?” Which I know is a bit harsh, but I am a bit harsh sometimes.
A brief conversation followed which ended in a statement that basically said, “I am not going to let you drag me into your sad little world”
Now, first of all I understand the issue. I seem like a scrooge. I seem like someone that hates the church. I seem like someone who is taking pot shots at those doing something different, or arguably more successful than what I am. I can see that, really I can. But… I do not think I should be dismissed so easily.
Not that I am in any way comparing myself to any of these great men of the faith, but John the baptist wasn’t exactly a sweet heart, Paul was down right mean sometimes, even Jesus whom we follow was a killjoy on occasions. The entire tradition of the prophets is not to say nice things, but to actually be a big downer. So the question isn’t: is what I am saying negative?, but rather: is what I am saying true?
Christianity as it has become defined in the western world, is subverted. It is not the revolutionary, radical and sacrificial way of living that we see in the book of acts and in stories of the early church. It has become rather a culture of its own, that mimics the culture of its day. And unfortunately in most of the western world that means an adoption of consumerism. We make a product of Christianity. This product includes well put together services, with good music, good message, and good child care. The product includes a very well put together handbook of beliefs, that we can convince ourselves of, and then be suitable for heaven. This product in too many cases gives us an ideology that says our possessions are a sign of God’s blessing, that our Christian duty is to take care of ourselves and our family first and then if we have some extra to give it through an agency to those that might need some help.
I remember one time I was sitting in a service that was all about God’s plan for sexuality. It had drama, and video, and a nice compelling message. And then the band came out and was playing “in your eyes” by Peter Gabriel, and I leaned over to ask my friend that invited me a question about the service. A lady in front of us angrily told me I was being a distraction. A distraction from what? A song you hear a hundred times a week on the radio? I was distracting from a performance that was meant to be a consumable good, for a target market. I was distracting from church, but not from being the church, but from the product of church. Inviting people to purchase this product is not mission, though it is what we are asked to do by the organization that exists.
Jesus on the other hand calls us to go out into the world, not call people to us. He says to make disciples, not converts. And he says to teach them to obey everything he taught… which means, sell all you have and give it to the poor, store not up treasures for yourself on earth, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the imprisoned and sick, stand up non violently against oppression, love your enemies don’t bomb them, live out the kingdom of heaven. Yes, Jesus calls us to something all together different than a service on Christmas.
We don’t need to invite people to a service, we need to invite them to a revolution. But first we have to live it ourselves. Far from being a sad little world, it becomes a wonderful, joy filled, and also tragic world, bigger than can be imagined, as it is not bound by the physical.
come and join the revolution
I agree with John. The Christmas services are about us – usually pandering to feel good Bing Crosby Christmas’ with Normal Rockwell paintings. They may include, if a Southern Baptist church, an later call… strange place, or expected place for one… depending upon your take on that. Few connect Simeon’s proclamation on the birth of the Christ [Luke 2 HCSB]:
25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout,(U) looking forward to Israel’s consolation,[p](V) and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit(W) that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah.(X) 27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered[q] the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, 28Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
29 Now, Master,
You can dismiss Your slave in peace,
as You promised.
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation.(Y)
31 You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples—
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles[r](Z)
and glory to Your people Israel.(AA)
33 His father and mother[s] were amazed at what was being said about Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel(AB) and to be a sign that will be opposed[t]— 35 and a sword will pierce your own soul—that the thoughts[u] of many hearts may be revealed.”
Simeon’s words are huge – this is the sacrificial propitiation for our sins… We need to rethink Flannel Graph Jesus and be the subversives that start a revolution within the church, and in the society… we need new music, new posture in the reading of the Word and an entire new definition of what it is to be God’s people – not a commodity to consume and move on to the next new shiny church, but a group of people committed to the revolution together.