every year, just like relatively every other church in the world, my church does a christmas eve service. each year the sermon is essentially the same, albeit they may go around it a little differently each year.
this year Luke 2 came in skit form. i think it was an attempt at a 21st century take on the days leading up to Jesus' birth, but the word "righteous" was used to mean "awesome" and that usage is clearly a part of a late 20th century lexicon. apart from a few moments where laughter was expected but not recieved - it was well done and i was comfortable with it.
typically at my church we light the Christ Candle on the advent wreath on christmas eve, and that was indeed the case this year as well. we also typically all hold candles and my pastor lights his candle from the Christ Candle and then passes it to the congregation and Jesus spreads like wildfire to everyone. i really like to play with the wax on the candles as it drips down the side too. however, the candle was not spread to everyone this year. instead, all the new christians from the year 2007 were encouraged to come forward and light their candle as a symbol of their candle having been reached. i really liked the idea, and i was excited to see the individuals come forward - face beaming - celebrating their first christmas as a christian.
however, in my service, there were 5 individuals that came forward. one was 12; he went alone. the rest were accompanied by an adult.
this is exciting, yes, but i'm extremely wary of the idea that a 4 year old can dedicate his/her life to Christ. instead of seeing a kid on a mission for Jesus, i typically see a kid whose parents have decided that they'd like to raise their kid as a Christian. i see a child with a moldable heart hearing about jesus and santa and believing that both are equally true. yeah, it is probably a good thing for parents to decide that they are going to raise their child in a christian home, but is this really the right thing to do?
sometimes i wish i hadn't 'grown up in the church'. i only know my life as a Christian. i dont recall a converstion experience entirely - yes, many many many meaningful moments - but none that i believe truly converted me to my current faith. is it okay for parents to choose their child's faith for them? cause what i sometimes feel like i've done is take the beliefs that i've been given, and look at the world around me through those eyes. i've got a set of Christian goggles on my face that have never been taken off. i can't compare my life now to a life without Christ. i can't compare and i believe that somewhat limits me in my faith.
another point i'd like to make regarding this little candle exercise - there was no one over the age of 12 "converted". that worries me for two reasons:
1) how serious is the commitment of someone 12 or younger?
2) in a congregation of about 1,000 people - i think it is sad - regardless of age - that there were such a small number of individuals. what does that say for an extremely large and vastly growing church population?
i dunno. it concerns me somewhat that a church has so very little to show for itself in terms of evangelism. i know it isn't all about the numbers, but there weren't ANY people even high school aged who had their candles lit at the end of the service. perhaps there were other individuals in the other two services tat i did not attend - i sure hope so the 7 pm service was sparse.
ps: hi kate.
EDIT: i've been notified with some "good news": there were a number of individuals in the OTHER two services that came forward. i guess i either attended the oldies service or just a service that happened to be populated with many children. so thats great.