Can we say this in Church?
- Swear words. My childhood pastor was rumored to have said “Damn” in public once, and it was apparently frowned upon. Swearing from the pulpit is also to be avoided in most congregations.
- “The truth” about Santa – especially to children on Christmas Eve. #NotYourRole
- F-bombs. In my first church, there was a typo in the bulletin about an upcoming Potluck Dinner only the “l” had been replaced with an “f.” I first noticed it during announcements and – thank goodness – had not read it out loud as written. No further attention was brought to this mistake during worship. But on the way out, one 80+ parishioner said – with a twinkle in his eye – “I’m really looking forward to that dinner.“
- Shaming words for people who only come to worship on Christmas Eve. Why would anyone be part of a church that criticized them for showing up even/only once a year?
- Swear words. The Bible is earthier than many of us realize.
- The Story of St. Nicholas of Myra. Patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and international students. He saved three young girls from trafficking by tossing sacks of gold through the windows to cover their dowry.
- F-bombs. See Kate Bowler. In the depths of utter pain and hopelessness, sometimes this is the only word that truthfully expresses our feelings.
- Expressions of shame for evil in the world. God has called us to feed the hungry, house the homeless, love the unlovable, visit the imprisoned, welcome the stranger, and care for widows and orphans. God has called us even to love our enemies. The Bible is an equal opportunity offender in terms of political parties. #BroodOfVipers
- A hearty authentic welcome to everybody especially the unbelievers, the unattractive, the sinners, the screw-ups, the slackers, the mean, and the haters.
Many years ago, we had several Muslim men come to the Christmas Eve service and one of our greeters – upon noticing their prayer caps – said, “Why are you here?” (Please don’t say that to guests.)
“We like the story of Isa,” one replied.
And the greeter said, “Well, you’re out of luck. Tonight we’re talking about Jesus.”
Please don’t be like that greeter.
Instead, relish in the remarkable Good News that . . .
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Being the Church means saying what needs to be said in truth and love. Let’s be a better Church in 2019. Merry Christmas!
Image from Home Alone.