West Franklin Family,
Christmas And Easter Only People. C.E.O.’s. Chreaster’s. You know who I am talking about. Those who only darken the doors of a church on Christmas and/or Easter. The reason we go “all out” and provide extra services during these holidays. The reason we “church folk” get super excited that our pews will be full and there will be an extra dose of energy in the sanctuary. It’s kind of ironic I’ve spent much of my life criticizing, ridiculing, and judging such people. If you are not a Chreaster or a C.E.O. Christian, you probably have too. In other words, if you are a regular attender, you have (more than likely) had a negative thought or two about them yourself.
But I wonder if we “church folk” contribute to their limited attendance? I wonder if we are a significant reason they only attend two out of fifty-two Sunday’s a year? I wonder if we are to blame (or at least partially) for their missing so much church?
Think about it. What are they expecting when they do attend? One, they anticipate everyone will be kind, nice, and excited to see them. Two, they are expecting the reality that we are expecting them. And three, wait for it . . . they know they are going to hear Good News. When you attend at Christmas and Easter, you can go to the bank that you will hear how God chose to lovingly invade our world (the birth of Jesus) and that He lovingly gave His life so we could live with Him now and forever (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus). When anyone attends at Christmas and/or Easter, they will be reminded – through our posture as we welcome and through the message – God loves, saves, rescues, and transforms tired, desperate, and helpless sinners.
At Christmas and Easter, people know they will hear and receive undeserved favor. They can take a deep breath. They can, even for a brief moment, relish in the reality that they are forgiven and free. In a word, they get GRACE.
Hmmmmm. That’s a novel idea, isn’t it?
I wonder if they have tried coming back at other times and been beaten up? I wonder if they have been back only to be scolded from the pulpit? I wonder if they came back at the first of the year and been told they were sitting in someone’s pew? I wonder if they came back the Sunday after Easter and been ignored? I wonder if they only participate at Christmas and Easter because these are the only guaranteed times that Christ’s church actually acts and speaks like Christ?
To be sure, I realize that attending church on Christmas and Easter is a cultural thing here in the South. I get it. I also know that momma and grannie guilt their family into sitting with them on these holidays. Again, I get it.
But what if these aren’t the only reasons? What if the reason is deeper? What if the reason is they have tried it other times and there simply isn’t much Good News? I wonder if they wonder where the grace we sing about went? I wonder if they wonder if we really are a people who embody what we say we believe?
James (Jesus’ half brother) thought it was a good idea not to ever make it difficult for someone to turn to God. Paul (the Apostle) made it his single ambition to proclaim grace. John (Jesus’ best friend) said Jesus was full of it (grace). And if I read Acts correctly, the early church grew astronomically because they overflowed with grace toward one another.
Could it be the Chreasters are the ones who really grasp what we are to always be about?
West Franklin, we are about a lot of things. A lot of really good and biblical and right and intentional things. But if grace – from our mouths and toward others – does not emanate from who we are, at our core, I don’t blame C.E.O.’s for wanting to be around us less than four percent of the time.
As we enter Holy Week, let’s remember why we place so much emphasis on the events surrounding these seven days. The final week of Jesus’ life is what drives everything we say and do as a church.
GRACE. It’s why and who we are. I look forward to launching into Holy Week with you tomorrow, with my Bible open to Luke 19:28-44.
How Sweet The Sound,
Speaking of Easter – it’s NEXT SUNDAY!!! Check out the schedule for the week here. And please don’t forget to RSVP!
And, oh yeah, I am eager to make a FUN and EXCITING announcement at the end of the service tomorrow. Can’t wait!