Skip to comments.Christian 'megapastor' blasts believers on Dec. 25 dispute (defends decision to close)
Posted on 12/19/2005 6:23:54 AM PST by NYer
With many large churches across the U.S. announcing they won't be open on Christmas Day, some pastors are defending their decision to stay closed, even going so far as to blast those who question their motives.
Among them is Jon Weece, pastor of Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Ky., who received complaint e-mails from Christians in all 50 states.
"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 brother in Christ," Weece said in his Dec. 10 sermon. "I'm still troubled that more Christians in this community specifically did not stand up for us knowing what this church represents."
(Audio of the entire sermon is available here.)
Weece blamed Satan the devil for using the Christmas issue as a distraction, prompting Christians to bicker among themselves.
"People are not the enemy," he said. "The devil is, and it is obvious that he has been at work in this situation."
Weece said the services being offered on Christmas Eve were still technically the "first day of the week" if one went by the custom of starting days at sunset, which some believe was the case in Jesus' day.
He went on to note: "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 January or mid-April. 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 personally this last week."
Weece also said Jesus himself walked all over opinion and tradition: "Do not lose sight of the controversy that Jesus incited by turning traditions on their head. And always remember in the economy of Jesus, the one whose birthday so many are claiming to be so passionate about, Jesus placed value and emphasis on people over policy and procedure and protocol every single time."
Meanwhile, the largest Christian church in South Florida has reversed itself on its closure Christmas Day, and now says it will be open for a single service next Sunday morning, Dec. 25.
Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale now promoting its Christmas Day service online after initially announcing a Dec. 25 closure
Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale originally decided to give its members and workforce a day off to spend with their families on Christmas, even though it falls on Sunday, its traditional day of worship. Instead, it had scheduled a slate of extra services for Saturday night, Christmas Eve.
Pastor Bob Coy
"I've been called a bad person and a shame to Christianity," pastor Bob Coy told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "It made me realize that many people misunderstood our motives."
But after an onslaught of negative public reaction from both inside and outside his congregation, Coy had a change of heart.
"Say it isn't so," read one e-mail, according to Coy. "You're shutting your doors on Jesus' birthday. I'm appalled at the message you're sending to the community."
Coy also was advised by some church members who said they wouldn't be able to attend services on Christmas Eve, and preferred to come on the actual holiday.
"Christmas is filled with unrealistic expectations," he said. "I don't want to fuel that. If people need Jesus on Christmas, I want to make Him available."
The entire issue has exacerbated the national Christmas controversy at a time which many believe is supposed to harken back to the Gospel of Luke's "peace on Earth."
"There is no biblical mandate that we meet on Sunday, only that we meet," writes Larry Baden in an online messageboard. "This is clearly a nonessential issue. Nobody's orthodoxy stands or falls on having a Sunday service. Nobody's salvation depends on having a Sunday service."
Minister Jeff Chitwood contends: "I think the issue centers on canceling worship on a day that is supposed to be centered on Christ. Too many times the church accuses the world of taking Christ out of Christmas but now the church is the one changing things because a day centered on Christ conflicts with schedules. What kind of message does it send to those who we have condemned in the past? At our church we are rescheduling service times but not eliminating the opportunity to worship on a day centered on Christ."
One poster said true worship is about much more than just singing or attending a church service.
"The way I greet my family when I go home from work is an act of worship. The way I talk to my co-workers. The dedication I give to my employer. The passion and inspiration I find in teaching or writing or editing or reading or mowing the lawn or ironing my shirts. ...
"Let's all just focus on God this Sunday. He's a big Guy. I'm sure those who look for him will find him even if they don't set foot in a church building."
For those christians whose churches are closed on Christmas Day, please join us for Christmas Mass. Catholic Churches will be holding Vigil, Midnight and Christmas Day Masses.
Catholic Ping - Please freepmail me if you want on/off this list
I love God, love Christ and love going to church but I really don't have a problem with being closed on Christmas.
Like, really, how many of those complainers would be going on Christmas morning after all. Just think if their employers required them to work on Christmas w/o holiday pay!?
Christians can be the most nasty people to deal with. Sunday is the messiest, rudest day of the week in the food and beverage industry when people come by after church for dinner.
I'm troubled that you're closing the doors and ignoring the reason that your church even exists for your own convenience. Perhaps the good pastor could give a sermon on sacrifice and love.
Pastor Weece: "People are not the enemy," he said. "The devil is, and it is obvious that he has been at work in this situation."
Pastor Coy: "I've been called a bad person and a shame to Christianity...It made me realize that many people misunderstood our motives."
Yup, it's everyone else's fault. Damn those parishoners that expect the church to be open on a Sunday. I suppose they'll be wanting to show up on Superbowl Sunday, too?
Here's an excellent look at this current trend of "forsaking the assembling" of the saints (Hebrews 10:19 - 25). I wonder how these "culture sensitive" pastors would respond to this guy. I think he hits the nail squarely on the head.
I'd like to, because I love the Catholic Church and the Pope, even though I'm a Protestant. But I've always understood that only Catholics can take part in a mass and receive the Eucharist. Isn't that true?
My family goes to church every Sunday. At Christmas and Easter, our church is mobbed by "Holiday Christians", and someone is always in 'our' seat. I plan to spend Christmas at home with my family. I suspect that the majority of complainers are the Holiday Christians who only go twice a year, anyway.
Uh-oh, where have I heard this before?
"Weece blamed Satan the devil for using the Christmas issue as a distraction, prompting Christians to bicker among themselves.
"People are not the enemy," he said. "The devil is, and it is obvious that he has been at work in this situation."
"Satan the devil"? As opposed to "Satan the nice guy"??
Ahhh..spoken like a true liberal Democrat: "It's not my fault - it's SATAN'S fault!! Yeah, that's it - SATAN!!"
What a load of crap. If Satan is talking thru anyone, it's the pastors who are closing churches on Christmas.
Yes and no. Non-Catholics should not receive the Eucharist, but they can certainly participate in the rest of the service, joining in the prayers and songs and listening to the Bible readings.
"Isn't that special?"
While there is no set of new testament commandments requiring an assembly to take place, and while we are to accept no man's judging us regarding a sabbath or a holy season, there is a counterproductive message sent by closing one's doors on Christmas Sunday.
It really does give the impression of secular expediency.
If, however, these churches choose that route, they do not sin, but it is certain, as well, that they are terribly shortsighted.
That is an excellent article. I absolutely agree with the points made, especially with the "consumer mentality at work".
There are plenty of people who warm a pew in church but have never had a change of heart brought about by repentance. Those people will claim to be Christians but present no evidence of it in their life.
We have several services (our building only holds about 2,000, and we need 3 services to deal with the crowds.)
Anyhoo,one of our regular services is Saturday evening, so we're turning our Saturday evening (Christmas Eve) service into a coprorate worship service...bringing in enough chairs and setting up outside to provide seats for 5000 people.
No way, could we reorganize everything between Christmas Eve and early Sunday AM, so no services on Christmas. I see absolutely nothing wrong with the scenario...we are not "forsaking the assembling of ourselves" as the Scripture says, we're just trying to find a time for a corporate service where we can accommodate the most people.
Funny line from one of the pastors was...come to Christmas Eve service, if you don't get the message and show up for Christmas morning, they'll be a sign on the door that says "See you at Easter."
The Bible says, Do not forsake the gathering together with fellow beleivers. These churhces have decided to "focus on the family" rather than "focus on Christ."
Priorities used to be God, family... Now it's Family, maybe God.
I think he's right on target. Thanks for the link.
We're having normal schedule on Sun a.m. but no church in the evening.
Jesus is "the reason for the season". It's not about presents, Christmas trees, lights, santa claus, or any other peripheral "fluff". It's about Jesus Christ, our Lord. If people who profess to be Christian cannot get themselves to Church on Christmas, then they really are lost.
I'm proud to be a Cathlolic, btw.
I find it ironic that the RC's are weighing in disapprovingly. I know many members of their church who, because of the " it counts " mentality of the Saturday evening mass, have not been up and out on a Sunday morning in years. I think that the Christian churches should be open on Christams, but I think the RC's ought to hold their fire.
Apples and oranges. Individual Catholics may avail themselves strictly of the Saturday evening services. The Church itself does not only hold such services. If a Catholic Church held only a Christmas Eve Mass and none during the day on Christmas, that would be analogous. That isn't the case.
I am sorry, I do not understand. If a member of your church goes on the 24th, Chrismas Eve, must he then go on the 25th, Chrismas Day ?
These folks are simply setting their own schedules. They are not forsaking anything.
I know churches who meet once a month...that's how they're organized. Their leadership makes that call.
In this instance, these folks have made a local decision based on their analysis of the situation. I think they send an awful message, but it is not a sinful decision, imo.
>>we're just trying to find a time for a corporate service where we can accommodate the most people.<<
Church worship is about giving God the glory and honor He is due, not about accommodating people.
The Sabbath was created for man; not man for the Sabbath...
No. Vigil Masses (night before) satisfy the requirement to attend on a Sunday or Holy Day.
Catholics can criticise these "megachurches" for being closed on Christmas Sunday, because Catholic Churches are never closed on Christmas or Sunday. It matters not if some of the Catholics will attend vigil Masses. They still have the choice of attending a vigil Mass or a regular Sunday Mass.
Personally, I think it is up to the individual churches, or their respective organizations, to decide if they have a Christmas service on Sunday or not. What troubles me are the Christians who are not members of these churches condemning their decisions. It's in the same class of arguements that one denomination has against another. Disgusting. People need to keept their own church and not dictate the business of another.
FYI, the reason is because that by taking Communion, the person would be saying through his actions that he believes what Catholics believe when taking Communion: that he is receiving the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. In effect, he would be lying through his actions. (But non-Catholics are welcome to attend Mass otherwise.)
OTOH, Christians in Orthodox Churches are permitted to take Communion in Catholic churches.
Permitted by us Catholics, not necessarily by their own Church's rules.
The reason why vigil Masses "count" is because evening is considered part of the following day. My understanding is that this way of reckoning days is carried over from Jewish practice.
That is the whole problem with the catholic criticism. Attending church is not about "satisfying a requirement".
Do you really think that God is really honored by someone attending church just because they are "satisfying a requirement"?
>>People need to keept their own church and not dictate the business of another.<<
I'm sure the Corinthian church said the same thing before they got Paul's first letter, addressed solely to them and how they had gone astray.
Rebuking, exhortation, and encouraging sound teaching is part of a Christian's responsibility towards fellow professed believers. We are as accountable to each other as we are to ourselves - especially in the case where a church body chooses to satisfy man's "hectic holiday schedule" rather than glorifying God corporately on His day.
My comments stand. You have confirmed that the day prior "counts" for your members, so why should it not for those of other churches. I suspect that the truth is you do not think that their worships activities " count" at all, be it on Saturday, Sunday , Christmas Day or any other in between.In my opinion, the intention of the poster was to exacerbate criticism of "separated brethren", and nothing more.
Why not do it up in style this Christmas, by attending an Eastern Catholic Church. Although it is not widely known in our Western world, the Catholic Church is actually a communion of Churches. At present there are 22 Churches that comprise the Catholic Church. Each Church has its own hierarchy, spirituality, and theological perspective. Because of the particularities of history, there is only one Western Catholic Church, while there are 22 Eastern Catholic Churches. The Western Church, known officially as the Latin Church, is the largest of the Catholic Churches. It is immediately subject to the Roman Pontiff as Patriarch of the West. The Eastern Catholic Churches are each led by a Patriarch, Major Archbishop, or Metropolitan, who governs their Church together with a synod of bishops. Through the Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Roman Pontiff works to assure the health and well-being of the Eastern Catholic Churches.
While this diversity within the one Catholic Church can appear confusing at first, it in no way compromises the Church's unity. In a certain sense, it is a reflection of the mystery of the Trinity. Just as God is three Persons, yet one God, so the Church is 22 Churches, yet one Church.
Although there are 22 Churches, there are only eight "Rites" that are used among them. A Rite is a "liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony," (Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 28). "Rite" best refers to the liturgical and disciplinary traditions used in celebrating the sacraments. Many Eastern Catholic Churches use the same Rite, although they are distinct autonomous Churches. For example, the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Melkite Catholic Church are distinct Churches with their own hierarchies. Yet they both use the Byzantine Rite.
To learn more about the "two lungs" of the Catholic Church, visit this link:
To locate an Eastern Catholic Church in your community, follow the following link:
A Roman rite Catholic may attend any Eastern Catholic Liturgy and fulfill his of her obligations at any Eastern Catholic Parish. A Roman rite Catholic may join any Eastern Catholic Parish and receive any sacrament from an Eastern Catholic priest, since all belong to the Catholic Church as a whole. I am a Roman Catholic practicing my faith at a Maronite Catholic Church. Like the Chaleans, the Maronites retain Aramaic for the Consecration. It is as close as one comes to being at the Last Supper.
If you watched the funeral for JPII, you may recall that towards the end of the funeral, a group of Eastern prelates gathered around his coffin to incense it and chant prayers for the dead. The Patriarchs and Bishops seen in this picture come from some of the 22 different Catholic Traditions, including Byzantine, Armenian, Coptic, Chaldean, Melkite, Maronite, Ukrainian, and Ruthenian.
Please freepmail me if you would like more information on the Eastern Catholic Churches.
True, but this is a pretty petty issue. Remember, live by the sword, die by the sword. Don't be upset when your flavor of Christianity comes under fire.
Being that the churches referred to in New Testament were families meeting in homes, people who dont go to a "cathedral" are really closer to having church in the biblical sense of the word.
Our LMBC is open too Bro. Have a Merry Christmas.
"My family goes to church every Sunday. At Christmas and Easter, our church is mobbed by "Holiday Christians", and someone is always in 'our' seat..."
I agree about the "ChEasters"...they only go a couple times a year. However, I think you should look at this from a positive viewpoint. There are many more people that you can talk to, share your faith with, welcome, shake hands with etc. It's a good opportunity. Live out your faith and people will take notice.
As opposed to totally ignoring God, yes. Attending Church as an "obligation" is the lowest form of devotion one can show toward the Creator. But it is a form of devotion.