Skip to comments.Pastor defends decision to close church on Christmas
Posted on 12/11/2005 8:58:32 PM PST by Pikamax
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The senior minister at central Kentucky's largest church defended a decision to not offer services there on Christmas Sunday and responded to mounting criticism.
The Rev. Jon Weese praised the decision of elders at Southland Christian Church during a service Saturday and said they "chose to value families. People over policy."
Weese has heard from hundreds of Christians across the nation protesting the closure, Southland officials said. Preaching before a crowd of about 1,150, Weece said the full story hasn't been heard.
"I was deeply saddened by the knee-jerk response of the Christian community as a whole to give the benefit of the doubt to the media and not a church or a Christian brother. I'm still troubled that more Christians did not stand up for us," said Weece. "Can you see or begin to see that the devil is stirring the pot on this?"
The backlash came after the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Southland and other megachurches in Illinois, Michigan, Georgia and Texas would not hold worship services on Dec. 25.
Standing on a stage decorated with 15 artificial Christmas trees, Weece downplayed the significance of the day.
"Christmas began as a pagan holiday to the Roman gods, and if we were to really celebrate the historical birth of Jesus, it would either be in early January or mid-April," Weece said. "I'm only pointing out the historical technicalities not out of intellectual arrogance, but again because of the illogical, ill-informed and even hypocritical arguments that were aimed at me this past week."
Weece also said that the church technically would be worshipping every Sunday in December.
Referring to Christianity's Jewish roots, he said that Sunday begins at sundown on Saturday according to biblical tradition.
Weece noted that Jesus also was criticized for breaking tradition. "There were some whose zeal even in the days of Jesus was misguided," he said. "They emphasized religion over relationship."
Worshippers applauded Weece several times during the service and gave him a standing ovation at one point.
"It's absolutely appalling that he and this church have been treated this way," church receptionist Olivia Byrne said after the service.
"Can you see or begin to see that the devil is stirring the pot on this?"
Alot of people have a lot of time, to complain about a lot things that don't directly impact them personally.
Translation: I'm a lazy, money-grubbing fraud who doesn't hesitate to spout heresy when threatened.
I have no opinion as to this decision. If that's what the congregation wants to do, so be it.
There is nothing magical or righteous by celebrating the birth of our Savior with one's buttocks warming a pew.
Can you imagine.... Having Jesus having a birthday party and the "church" is not coming!
The statements the pastor makes in this article posted don't make sense.
If they are cancelling church on December 25th, how can they be having church every sunday?
If he believes his argument about December 25th not even being a "real" christian holiday, why would he cancel the bible-mandated "coming together" on a sunday in order for his families to celebrate the pagan holiday?
And if he really is against the secularization of christianity, why would have have 15 artificial christmas trees at a place of honor in his sanctuary?
There are people who feel compelled to worship God at HIS time and place of choosing. The Christian church should provide a place for the flock to do so each Sunday.
When my church did weekend retreats, they always sent an elder back for Sunday service at the church, so those who didn't go on the retreat could have a worship service.
I don't know of a single conservative church in my area which is cancelling worship service because of christmas. My church will be meeting, my parent's church will be meeting.
I wouldn't expect my church to cancel because some people won't be there.
I guess that is what I really don't understand -- are they afraid that if they have a service, their flock will be "compelled" to attend, and will somehow neglect their family gatherings? Can't people just work their plans around the service, and invite their extended family?
This sound much like the decision of a "modern" church trying more to appeal to today's culture, and be "relevant" for its members, than a church trying to be true to scripture.
Yea, attending church is now "policy"
Christmas is a nice little tradition, and I love it, but it's not biblical. Jesus asked that he be remembered by the Lord's supper, not a pagan holiday.
The very best Christmas sermon I ever heard, was on one of those Christmas days, that happen to fall on Sunday...
I got to church early, to practice, as I was the organ player...the church janitor always was there before me, getting the heat turned up, and comfy for Sunday School and Church...but I noticed on this particular Sunday Christmas morn, it was amazingly cold in the church, and the janitor lamented to me, that the furnace had gone KAPUT....now this was in Chicago, so you know it was just really cold in the church....
Yet Sunday School went on, with everyone remaining in their hats and coats and mittens and boots...
And when time for church came, our Pastor, apologize to the congregation for the cold, and explained that the church would be needing a new furnace..everyone, clad in their outerwear for warmth, smiled...
I, ,myself was frozen, at least my feet were...because I always played the foot pedals of the organ with my shoes off, always needing to feel those pedals...
When it was time for the sermon, our Pastor, decided not to preach the sermon he had prepared, but rather decided to give a completely different sermon, related to the cold we were all feeling...He asked us to just imagine that cold,(we did not have to imagine) and being a mom, about to deliver a baby in the out of doors, and imagine the moms concerns over her new baby in the cold...being that we were all so cold, his sermon just had so much more meaning...
It may have been freezing in that church according to the thermometer, but the warm fellowship, that we all felt that day, and the warmth of Gods love for us, in sending His Son, made all of us forget the cold...
This is a pastor saying this? Wow, to paint all these Christians who disagree with his actions to close church on Christmas, because it is on a Sunday, as being a part of the devil's work? That is so wrong! You have genuine Christians out there who believe that closing the church is wrong. I, for one, am with those who oppose this pastor's decision to close his church, because Christmas happens to fall on a Sunday.
"Christmas began as a pagan holiday to the Roman gods, and if we were to really celebrate the historical birth of Jesus, it would either be in early January or mid-April," Weece said.
Giving the opponents of Christmas more fuel to oppose the Christmas season.
Sorry, I am not buying into this statement, as a valid reason for canceling church, just because it happens to be Sunday, and the Christmas holiday falls on the same day.
Our church is not planning to have its usual three services on Christmas morning, and some of us protested. This morning the pastor addressed the subject. He said that holding a service requires the assistance of about a hundred volunteers--people to run the child-care ministry and Sunday School, people to serve as ushers and musicians, folks to handle the horrendous parking and traffic-flow issues, to control the lights and sound and electronics, to drive the buses to and from distant pickup places, to clean up after the services, to provide security in the face of recent threats. In addition, they have to pay a lot of overtime to the local cops who try to manage the traffic nightmare the thousands of churchgoers create on local roads each weekend. He said it just wasn't possible to round up this volunteer staff on Christmas morning when people wanted to be with their children and could not be constrained to appear as paid employees could be.
Do I buy his argument? Well, in fifteen years I've never found this man to engage in untruths or half-truths. If he says there are serious logistical problems with managing a Christmas Sunday service, he knows more about running a big church than I do.
It's not the celebration of Christmas that's at issue. It's the celebration of the Lord's day which happens to fall on Christmas. They let the holiday mean more than the Lord's day, and THAT is what has caused the fuss.
Can you back that up with facts?
A pastor here in Colorado Springs has cancelled church services on Christmas Day because he has tickets for the Broncos' game. BTW - he hasn't told his congregation the real reason.
My church is maybe 120 people on a good sunday. We need the guy who leads our songs, one of the two sound people (me or my replacement), and the pastor. I guess we need a parent to volunteer to sit in the nursery as well. Then we would need sunday school teachers if we didn't cancel sunday school.
If they were consolidating services and cancelling sunday school and other ancillary activities, I wouldn't comment.
Of course, since I don't go to a megachurch, I guess I don't appreciate the effort that goes into having a worship service. We've come a long way from the time everybody just showed up at the house and Paul led them in a multi-hour sermon.
"Can you back that up with facts?"
His words are out there for everybody to see. If you don't like my opinion, form your own.
I disagree FRiend, even though technically you are correct.
It IS about Christmas; traditionally a day of family as well as religious celebration.
If 50% of your congregation is at Grandma's house out of town, and 90% of a Megachurch's staff is likewise engaged, and the congregation doesn't mind; what is the harm?
Worship does not require a "church" service. Scripture is about equally split on the issue.
Another sign that even for most Christians, Christmas is more about the presents and the secular holiday than about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
This pastor is no more a Christian than the man in the moon. How could Christmas have begun as a pagan holliday, pagans didn't worship Christ?
What this phoney "Christian" is trying to sell us with his word-smithing is that Dec. 25th was once a pagan holiday, hence if the Church later decided to choose this date to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, then "Christmas began as a pagan holiday". It's a satanic play on words. Christmas began as the celebration of Christ's birth.....and nothing else. Now, it doesn't matter if Dec. 25th was once celebrated as a Martian holiday, all that matters today is that Dec. 25th is accepted date in Chrisitianity that we celebrate our Lord's birth. If this clown knows the actual day that Jesus was born, then please let us all know, otherwise just go away. May his phoney "church" remain closed on Christmas Day, and forever.
Our church is holding a very limited service on Christmas Day for those who absolutely feel that they can't miss it. There are families who told me that they weren't planning on coming who I thought wouldn't have missed church unless they were dying in the hospital.
What with Christmas Eve service AND church on Sunday, when is there time to celebrate the holiday, open gifts, and spend time with the family? I'm a Christain but for as often as Christmas lands on a Sunday, I vote to cancel church. I doubt anyone's going to hell over it and missing one week of church isn't going to be that detrimental to one's spirituality.
I think my problem with this "church" would have began with the 15 Christmas trees on the podium... And how many of 'em are on the "the leftist are taking Christ out of Christmas" bandwagon???
..... there is always a reason to miss church. The thing that is most important is that you DO miss church. Any and all reasons will be good to do just that. In fact you or anybody that you can influence will be assured of not going to hell if they miss church.
Because the most important thing is not going to church..... it's about what you feel. The most important thing in the world isn't found in church or what is said in church or even what is learned in church.... right? It's about spending time with your family, opening presents, eating a good meal, watching a football game, playing with the kids, laughing with long lost relatives... not the hour you will spend thanking the Lord for all the things that were made in his name, and that in the very end is his to begin with.
I don't have to go to church, I need to go.... if only to pray for my pathetic attempts to be a Christian and to thank the big guy upstairs for his grace in allowing me the opportunity to honor him.
One hour over a whole weekend.... that's all. I waste more time surfing the 'net or waiting between meals or looking at the pregame or sleeping in late.
It's all about what "going to church" is to you. In fact it's not even about how it appears to your friends or family..... it's our time to "drink the water" and refresh ourselve.
Me thinks the parrishoners will quit attending and go elsewhere. We would. And we were on the Board of Session in our Church for 10 years.
Guess what, Willow Creek in Barrington (Chicagoland) is also canceling church for Christmas. Couldn't they at least have a super-simple service instead of the production that would put many small theatre companies to shame?
I agree, why not have at least something, for those who desire to attend church? And who knows, you may find some unbelievers that would come to your church, because it is Christmas Day and Sunday, and they might just find the 'truth' in the real meaining of Christmas.
Yeah, a "nice little tradition" that has been celebrated ever since Jesus was born, and has been celebrated on Dec. 25th for nearly 1,700 years.
"but it's not biblical."
Christmas is the celebration of Jesus Christ's birth, and you're claiming the celebration of His birth isn't biblical? This is a simply amazing statement, please read below and find out just how wrong you are.
"---the angel Gabriel was sent from God---to a virgin--and the virgin's name was Mary. He said to her, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" ---behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High--- and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever;---therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God". (Luke 1: 26-35)
"In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to (visit) the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, (Jesus)!--- For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy". (Luke 1: 39 - 44).
And the angel said to them---I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ---And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2: 8 - 14).
"When they (three Kings) had heard Herod they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child Jesus was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. (Mathew 2: 9 - 11)
"Serious logistical problems"? Time to find a new church, I'd say. Imagine if the Apostles put their mission on hold due to 'serious logistical problems'? How many times was Paul shipwrecked, stoned, arrested, beaten and thrown out of town to spread the gospel?
The date is apocryphal, at best.
How hard is it for a Pastor to just ask how many are going to come on Christmas Day?? If no-one plans to come then its solved, if some come, then make sure its open.
Feeding crowds with one fish and a loaf of bread was a "logistical problem" too.
You have now. In the past week, I've been to functions at 3 megachurches of 2 denominations. The first, 20,000+ members SBC - the pastor made sure to work in an invitation that they would be operating Christmas day. The second, a smaller SBC with I would guess about 4000 members - also let it be known they would be operating Christmas day. And my own church - definitely not Baptist - will have two morning services with child care for up to 2 year olds, with older children attending with their families instead of children's church or Sunday School.
As far as I know, all the smaller churches are having services that day. The only ones around here that are cancelling are those which are market driven rather than Bible driven.
There are bound to be many churches in your area holding Sunday morning services that week. Try one out. The worst thing that could happen is that you would like it so much that you would want to stay.
There was never a Christmas until the early Christians realized it would be a wise idea to incorporate pagan "holy" days into their own "traditions". So the December celebrations were Christianized in order to keep people from sneaking out and having secret pagan celebrations.
Talk about jumping through hoops to manufacture a conclusion....
"Couldn't they at least have a super-simple service instead of the production that would put many small theatre companies to shame?"
That's a great idea! In fact, that's what most of them are doing and everyone's complaining about it. They decided that the way to do a super-simple service was to have hundreds of them across the church. Each family would meet in their living room, read the Christmas story and pray together. But no, everyone looking in from the outside decides that having the entire megachurch together is the only valid definition of a church service.
Looking at your answer, I think you are being sacastic (when can you celebrate Christmas if you have to take time to go to church.) Some folks are going to miss your point without a sarcasm tag, however. I did at first until I looked at what you actually said.
"they emphasized religion over relationships"
Ah, like a personal relationship with Christ? Yep, I say, stay home and tear off that wrapping paper as fast as you can. That will give you relationships .
Sounds like this winner is determined to get the day off and was looking for loopholes after the bad publicity. His fifteen Christmas trees will be dark on the celebration of the Lord's birth. That's the bottom line.
Cripes, for most churchs Christmas is the number one cash day. Most church's budget's won't balance without Christmas. Easter helps, too.
I choose to believe Christ's birth was in December because the decree from Caeser Ausgustus went out that the "world" be taxed and that persons return to their cities of birth for the census count. Therefore, Joseph - being a man, the head of household - waited until the last minute to file - the last week in December to return to Bethlehem.
Oops - that's "Augustus". Sorry..!