Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Give them what they really want (for Christmas)

The Rev. Tom Ehrich's opinion column for Episcopal Life counsels churches to stop whining and give people what the want for Christmas. He notes that churches spend the month leading up to Christmas complaining about the commercialization of Christmas and singing unfamiliar Advent hymns while the rest of the world is singing carols. He writes,
This annual whining is a perfect expression of why many churches dwindle to irrelevance. This is "provider-driven" religion. We are blaming people for not wanting what we provide. It would be far better for us to ask ourselves: why don't we provide what they want?

If people are hungry for food, why give them ritual? If people are hungry for meaning, why give them traditions inherited from former days? If people want to connect their lives with a living God, why condemn them for digging deep to buy gifts for their children or yearning for lost love?

If people want to sing Christmas carols because this is the best music we sing all year long, why would we force them to drone through Advent hymns just because the church calendar says it's technically not "Christmas" yet? Is there some virtue in denying people their legitimate needs?

Forget the patronizing attitudes. Our members aren't children who need to be taught the value of eating spinach. They are grownups who yearn for love, meaning, joy, and community. They are smart enough not to bring those needs to congregations where the preaching is dull, the air is filled with year-end anxiety about money or children aren't invited to sit on laps and express their dreams.

Max gets the super dooper reindeer pooper at last year's King of Peace Christmas partyThe mall meets people where they are, whereas we blister people for not being what we want them to be. Who needs such abuse?

Meeting people where they are doesn't mean being slavish to their self-destructive ways. But it does mean comprehending those self-destructive ways -- not as mindless appetite, but as yearning and hunger. Plodding through a dour Advent hymn is no response, especially when Macy's is playing "Joy to the World."

Of all the possible roles to play, we seem to have chosen the least savory. We play the uncaring innkeeper: no room for you here as you actually are. We play the Roman census-taker: do it our way, or else. We play the shepherds' employer: stay out there in the cold, even though light is shining not far away.

I say, Stop the whining, and rev up the preaching. Let's touch their hearts, not tickle their ears with clever Advent homilies about John the Baptist. Let's love people, not berate them for spurning our treasured offerings.
The full text of his column is here: Give them what they really want (for Christmas).

Christmas Party Tonight
Tonight at 7 p.m. we will hold King of Peace's Christmas Party. Bring a wrapped $1 gift (gag gifts are always fine) for a gift exchange. You may also bring a party snack. This party is a fun way to better get to know the people with whom you worship each week.

a view from last year's Christmas Party
Part of the fun at last year's Christmas party


  • At 12/21/2007 8:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is there a particular theme for the party tonight? I remember the Super Duper Reindeer Pooper, a "musical" can of beans and a whoopie cushion from last year...:)


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