Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Being Counter Cultural through Advent and Christmas

Is your parish church holding as many services through Advent and Christmas as it did last year? Five years ago? Every so often my antennae pick up signals that the number of services being offered is diminishing. A parish once offering Midnight, 8am and 10 am Communions may now be offering only one service on Christmas morning and reviewing whether or not to hold the Midnight service. Behind all such decisions will lie some statistical factors ... the once packed church for a Midnight service, for example, was only 75% full three years ago, and just 50% full for the last two years ... and so on. But I wonder sometimes if other factors are at work. The general busyness of the festive season collides with the time and effort required to prepare special services; less lay assistants may be available; and the further we move into Hillsong territory with worship, the less relevant and engaging Advent hymns and Christmas carols can seem.

Yet somewhere in the midst of all such factors there is an element of the world's culture telling the church's culture what to do. A challenge for all of us involved in worship leadership may be resolve to place the culture of the church ahead of the culture of the world in Advent and Christmas. To do that we may need to remind ourselves that the coming of Christ is utterly decisive for the world: without Christ's coming there would be no cross and resurrection; with the cross and resurrection there would be no salvation, no hope, no ultimate meaning to life. To celebrate the coming of Christ through Advent and Christmas therefore is not our responsibility but our privilege!

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