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Protesting ChristMass

During a meeting with several other Cincinnati area worship ministers last week we got to talking shop about Christmas/Christmas Eve services; who was doing them, who was not, how many and what time. I was intrigued (neither positive nor adverse reaction) to find that roughly a third of the churches represented were not having any kind of Christmas Day services, even though Christmas morning is a Sunday this year. Yet there was one leader (Reggie) who said that their church has a Christmas morning worship service every year regardless of whether it falls on a Sunday.

Initially this shocked me. How could this be? Why would this be? Why have a church service every Christmas? Why not stay home and eat cinnamon rolls and open presents like the rest of America? Reggie said many of the people who expect this from his congregation are not native North Americans. Initially Reggie was against the idea, but once he realized how many people from his congregation wanted to have a Christmas morning worship service, he warmed up to it and now he actually looks forward to it every year.

I still was shocked and even incredulous of the idea myself. Don't churches understand that ministers need the day off to spend with their families on Christmas morning? I thought.

But then I had a conversation with the preschool minister here at Parkside. She spent several years living in South Africa where it was commonplace to attend a Christmas service every Dec 25th, and her children grew up with that understanding as well.

And that's when it hit me.

South Africa was part of the British Empire.
British Imperialism was integrally connected to British religion (to this day almost 80% of South Africa is Christian).
The Church of England (Anglicanism) practiced a Christ Mass every Dec 25th.
Many churches in South Africa to this day still celebrate Christmas by having a Mass.

So it actually is more weird to not celebrate Christmas by having a church service (especially when it falls on a day when a church would regularly hold a worship service) then it is to have a Christmas service.

Put another way: The protestant way of saying Christ Mass would be "Worship Service about Jesus." So when I go caroling to my neighbors I could sing: We wish you a merry Worship Service about Jesus, We wish you a merry Worship Service about Jesus, We wish.... and so on.

Maybe it is the Protestant way to just distance ourselves from any and everything having to do with the more organized religions and that is why we balk at the idea of having a service on Dec 25th, regardless of what day of the week it falls on.

When I think about it that way, I suddenly am super glad that Parkside has a Christmas morning worship service.

Merry Worship Service About Jesus everyone! 

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