With the “holiday season” in full swing, each day our attention is being begged by many commercial vendors promising to sell love and happiness this year for Christmas. Then there is the ever-popular “KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS!” mantra that increases to a daily rage in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Through all this commercial chaos, the Church invites us to spend more time actually IN Church.
One thing I continue to notice is the temptation to “gimmick” us into coming to Church with events such as Giving Sunday, Youth Sunday, Service Sunday, Godparent Sunday, etc. Since when was just Sunday not enough of a reason to attend Church? Since when did we think we had to sell reason to get people into the Church?
The biggest problem I see with Gimmick Sunday is that the gimmick never lasts very long. Eventually we outgrow gimmicks and need simply to want to be in Church. Eventually we come to point where the Church is “a house of prayer” rather than trying to sell us happiness. The Nativity Fast is an excellent chance to reframe your Church attendance and keep the Christ in Christmas by attending Church. May Churches, like our host parish of Saint Nicholas in Tarpon Springs, schedule additional services during seasons in increased spiritual needs. With the barrage of commercial pressure to outdo the neighbors and increase the corporate bottom line, we need to be in Church more than ever. Anything beyond that is robbing us of our time with God.
At that time, Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be a house of prayer'; but you have made it a den of robbers." And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people hung upon his words. (Luke 19.45-48)