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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

More on Shutting Down Church on Christmas

Friday, December 09, 2005

With thanks to Brian for sending me this link to a NY Times piece on the megachurches that will be closed on Christmas Sunday, let me simply point out the following:

  • Willow Creek, the megachurch of megachurches to some minds, is producing a DVD that they hope families will watch in the comfort of their own homes. Said a Willow Creek representative: "What we're encouraging people to do is take that DVD and in the comfort of their living room, with friends and family, pop it into the player and hopefully hear a different and more personal and maybe more intimate Christmas message, that God is with us wherever we are." Having just seen Rent for the second time (another thanks to Brian--he bought my ticket), a line sticks in my mind: "Some people don't have anywhere else to go on Christmas." Too bad for those people, they won't be able to go to church either, because all of the Christians will be in their comfortably heated homes surrounded by the love of their family and friends. And I suppose it's too obvious to point out Willow Creek's assumption that a state-of-the-art family entertainment center complete with DVD player is a standard fixture in everyone's home--at least anyone worth reaching with the gospel.
  • More than just an un-holy deification of the nuclear family, Willow Creek's Christmas strategy shows American evangelical Christianity falling down precisely in a place where it's needed to stand up and witness to the good news of God. I'm speaking of the public/private realm of American life, the way that, more and more, American life is privatized (and not just in terms of health care savings accounts), and a sense of the public, of the common and the shared good, is being lost. This quote by Bishop Eddie Long from New Birth Missionary Baptist Church says it all "We're encouraging our members to do a family worship. They could wake up and read Scripture and pray and sometimes sing a song, and go over the true meaning of what Christmas is, before opening up their gifts. It keeps them together and not running off to get dressed up to go off to church." It keeps them together, where the "true meaning" of what Christmas is can be shared. Because, of course, if they were gathering publicly with other Christians, they were be witnessing to the un-true meaning of Christmas?
The story of Christmas is a public address, directed not simply to individuals and their families and friends, but to seats of imperial power, to cities and towns, nations, and cultures. To encourage the faithful, on Christmas, to witness to the good news of God-with-us by bunkering in at home with all their gifts is to lead them astray. It is to shepherd them into the alluring but poisonous grasses of American individualism and privatization (not to mention materialism).

And to think: some of these people will be the same one's decrying the "secularization" of Christmas by retailers and local governments.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:38 AM

3 Comments:

The subtext here is that everybody worth "churching" has money, family, and friends.

That's sad. Just plain sad. I went to Willow Creek this past fall. They were celebrating their 30th Anniversary. They ended the service with a montage of "everyday" pictures of their members set to music. Nobody over the age of 55. No black people. No pictures of nursing homes or rehab centers...heck, not even a hospital. No frowns...or even half-frowns. A bunch of people in nice clothing with pasted-on smiles standing with their families with their Ford Explorers in the background.

We went out after the serivce and asked the help desk if they had any information on local mission...soup kitchens, shelters for the abused, anything.

They gave me a brochure on how to give to the Willow Creek building fund.

You are dead on, Rock. This isn't church. This is justification of self-indulgence with a side order of Jesus. All for the sake of "family". It's sad.
commented by Blogger Scott, 5:56 AM  
I agree with Scott- Somehow, we've let family become an agenda item and a target market, instead of being what God designed...If Christmas and Church aren't about creating a place that is not of this world, then what's the point?

Happy Festivus to all...
commented by Blogger Chuck Strawn, 3:17 PM  
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr.
Strawn. He is usually right on
the money with his viewpoints.
By the way, isn't the church, the body of Christ, supposed to be the FAMILY of God????????? Hummm...
CCCS67
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:47 PM  

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