Per usual, I began inviting people to our Christmas events the day before Thanksgiving. I love Christmas so very much and I always want to invite other people to spend the entire season with me. It’s the perfect time of year to be an extrovert. A big part of our Christmas Eve, and Day this year, is church. Whenever I invite people to church, there’s a reaction of horror.
“Oh, I can’t go!” they explain. There’s a list of reasons why they can’t come, even though it’s Christmas Eve. I truly get some-if you don’t believe, if you aren’t into that, okay. But more often than not, I find people tell me they don’t want to feel unwelcome because of a circumstance.
So I want you to know this year…we want your screaming baby sitting in the back pew at our church on Christmas Eve. You are more than welcome to stand in the back, rocking them back and forth. We won’t glare at you if they fuss.
We want your child who loudly proclaims in the middle of the service, “Look at my glowstick!” We want you, if you have to run out during a hymn because your toddler is holding onto themselves crying out “MAMA I GOTTA PEE”. You won’t be the first, or the last, to have that happen. Take it from the experienced runner outer.
You are welcome with your nursing baby. Chances are someone will even help you cover up if you’re struggling with your scarf or blanket. We love to see you bounce the baby a little, searching for a bottle. There may be someone around you who smiles and waves at your kids while our pastor is preaching…we like that too.
Even if you don’t know the words to the carols, even if you have forgotten the tune to the hymns, we would love to see you sitting next to us on Christmas morning. We don’t care where you’ve been, where you’re coming from, who you’re leaving behind…we would love to share this glorious day with you.
Maybe you’ve never read the Lord’s Prayer before in your life. Maybe you don’t even know if you believe the words in it. Maybe you read it every day for a decade and then walked away from it and this is your first time back at a church since then…it doesn’t matter what your circumstance is. We would love for you to be with us on Christmas Eve and day.
You might be in your finest clothes, stopping in for your three times a year church attendance. You may never have the inclination to return. You may fall in love and want to come every week after(no pressure though). You may meet a new friend or you may sit quietly in the back, intentionally trying to avoid contact. I apologize now if you do not succeed…we’re not a great place to go if you don’t want love or fellowship.
You might be in jeans and a stained shirt. You might still have on pajamas from the night before(actually that’s recommended for Sunday Morning!). You are still welcome in our congregation.
Maybe you’re only here because it’s warmer than your house this weekend. Maybe you hope to find some support in grieving your first holiday after you lost a loved one. Maybe you’re only here to appease your grandmother. Maybe your Christmas season is plagued with heartache and sorrow, maybe this feels like an annoyance that takes you away from the party.
No matter why you find yourself here, no matter the reasons you think you would be shunned, you are loved. You are cherished. You are valued. And we would love to see you at church with us this Christmas. Actually, we would love to see you at our church any given day.
Please, bring your screaming baby to our church.
(Because I assure you, yours will not be the only one.)