In the shadow of all the Occupy protests this fall, I’ve struggled for alternatives to gifts that feel like “buying people more stuff they don’t need or want.” A currently re-running radio ad challenges us: “does anyone really want ‘pleather’ gloves!” But stepping out of ‘loyal service’ to North American consumerism, it turns out, isn’t easy! Doing the majority of our annual shopping and spending most of our consumer dollars in the final month of the year are among the central rituals of Christmas.
I like gifts as much as the next person. Certainly receiving them makes me feel both special and thankful, especially an unexpected gift. I admit, I’ve been having trouble coming up with alternatives. How can I let people know they are precious to me without depending on the mall? Perhaps personal invitations to church for Christmas Eve would fit the bill?
Yes, of course, it’s risky. Recipients might mistake me for a fanatic. They may experience my trying to convert them. Maybe they’ll project all their fears of organized religion on my innocent invite:
~ he holds a bigoted belief, objective Truth he thinks he has and I need;
~ that invitation isn’t about my company; actually he’s judging me;
~ what he’s really saying is “unless you become religious like me, you’re destined for hell.”
Yes, there’s that risk. But, perhaps, I can counteract that sort of reaction if my invitation is casual:
“Christmas is one of the best times for church. Want to join me? To hear the story and sing the songs. Christmas Eve’s candle light is heartwarming. Maybe we can grab a bite afterwards…”
If my invitees still seem suspicious, I’d could add apologetically:
“Hey, Old First isn’t an ‘all the answers’ kind of church. Our faith is about trusting enough to live with the questions.
At our best, we have room for everyone… no matter who… individual peculiarities and all. That’s because church reminds us God created and loves all. No matter what.
There wasn’t room at the inn for Jesus and his parents; we’re Christians who believe Christmas is about making room here on earth like God has room in heaven.”
I think I’ll call and invite 12 people to Christmas today! I’ll let you know how I do…
Can I ask you to do the same (you might even just forward this E-pistle with a note like, “Would you come with me?”)
See you and your friends in church on Christmas Eve,
Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24:
Hot Chocolate and Cookies by the Creche, 6 p.m.
Outdoor Service by the Creche (carols and the story), 6:30 p.m.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service in the Sanctuary, 7 p.m.
If you or someone you know would like to receive our E-pistles each week, please let the church office know.