You know who you are, the once-a-year church attendees- this is for you.
Another year, another Christmas church visit. It’s hard to believe that a year has passed where you haven’t darkened our door. You may have intended to visit and life just didn’t pan out that way, or you might not even be bothered by your infrequent attendance. Either way, don’t worry, I understand. This isn’t a post to bash you over the head. Sunday church is inconvenient, socially alien and often downright boring. If my life wasn’t so bound up in my faith (see my previous post) I probably wouldn’t attend much either.
You might come to the nine lessons and carols because you enjoy the singing, or find yourself in a midnight Mass for the space it provides before the carnage of Christmas Day, or bring your children to a Christingle to try and instill in them a sense of gratitude. All of these reasons are good and true reasons for coming. But whatever your reason for attending Church this Christmas, I hope that you find it an uncomfortable experience. Whether you attend a carol service or a Messy Church, I hope that it’s not what you quite expect.
I don’t mean that you should hate it, or that folk should be rude to you but if you are seeking comfort, the Church is the wrong place for you.
I hope that your visit to church makes you realise that you are not content with your life, that your stuff is not enough, that meaning escapes you.
I hope that you recall your recent actions and realise your brokenness, your hurt, and your unforgiveness. I hope that you feel anything but comfort. Church should not be a place of comfort but of reassurance. Reassurance that your life can change, tomorrow doesn’t have to be the same as today.
The message of Christmas is God coming down and becoming a part of our mess. Jesus’ birth doesn’t bring comfort but it does bring reassurance. This reassurance is that:
We are not alone in the darkness, Jesus our light has come.
We are not alone is our brokenness, Jesus our restorer has come.
We are not alone in our pain, Jesus our healer has come.
As you prepare for your annual trip to church this Christmas I hope that it is an uncomfortable experience but that you leave stirred up with a real reassurance that there is hope in the darkness.