Christmas on a Sunday? Uh-oh...
David Gibson December 23, 2011 - 3:49pm
In today's Wall Street Journal I have a brief piece about this year's "come to Jesus" moment for Christians faced with the prospect of Christmas on a (heaven forfend!) Sunday.Many Protestant churches won't be open or will have abbreviated services; growing up an evangelical, we wouldn't celebrate Christmas in church. That was a "Catholic thing."But when Christmas falls on a Sunday, as it does every few years, it puts pressure on some believers, at least, to either observe the day as a religious holiday or maybe concede that the faithful themselves aren't doing such a great job of keeping Christ in Christmas -- and maybe we shouldn't insist that stores do it for us by greeting customers with "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays."Here is my piece (note a couple debts to Commonweal authors).Some other, better additions to the topic:At First Things, Russell Saltzman makes a good, pointed and interesting argument:
Maybe we Christians ourselves should stop calling Christmas Christmas and revert to an older eleventh century phrase, Cristes MaesseChrists Mass. Best Buy can fend for itself.
In USA Today, Amy Sullivan presaged Saltzman's column, arguing that we should call it "Jesus Day" and let the secular world have Christmas. Since they already do.At EthicsDaily.com, Jim Evans gets to the heart of the matter:
How many among those who have clamored for retail outlets to carry the Christian message will be in church on Christmas Day?......It's time and past time to stop expecting department stores and shopping malls to proclaim our faith. The responsibility for that lies much closer to church and home than many may care to admit.
And for those of us in the Catholic Church who may be tempted to feel a bit superior to our Low Church brethren because we are Christmas churchgoers as a matter of course, Our Sunday Visitor has a feature on the decrease in Christmas Day attendance and the proliferation and popularity of Christmas Eve masses. (And of course there is "Midnight Mass" as a term of art.)I must plead guilty -- or mea maxima culpa, breast-beating and all, as I suppose we say now. Since my daughter was born, it's been Fr. Nonomen's "Jingle Bell Mass" on Christmas Eve for us. I would in an ideal world opt for Midnight Mass. But we could and perhaps should do Christmas morning, certainly. Yet we don't.In any case, I agree with those who suggest that it's hard to see how we can reclaim Christmas as a religious holiday when we don't observe it as such.