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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

The church where Nathan is employed, and where I usually attend, has instituted a new event in the past two years: a separate Christmas Eve service for families with children.

What? Why?

Because children can be distracting to those around them.

Children are sweet blessings to any family and to the church family as well! What if we allowed their small, occasional whispers or rare cries to point us toward the baby Jesus, fully God yet fully human, a helpless, noisy babe - his birth most likely not a "silent night," much as I love that carol. What if we allowed their "disruptions," when such noises occur, to remind us of the man whose coming we celebrate, who said, "Let the little children come unto me... for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

What about that?

But the children can't understand the service, so they need a separate one of their own where adults who consider themselves "good with children" can talk down to the young ones.

Can't they understand? Do they really need a separate service? Can't six- and seven-year-olds sing Once in Royal David's City? Weren't the words, after all, written for little children? Do they not know the words to O Come, All Ye Faithful and Silent Night; can they not sing alongside their parents? Can they listen to a brief message (as all Christmas Eve messages should be)? After all, if any service ever should be accessible to children, shouldn't it be this special Eve on which we remember the coming of a Baby? Speak your theology throughout the year, by all means. If your sermons must be too long or a bit dull, we will listen patiently. But on this one night, let the children come. Let the church be all present at once. Let the families be together to worship Christ, the Infant King.


  1. This may be an entirely different situation from the one at your church, but we have a separate service for families with young children as well, at 4:30pm instead of midnight. The traditional service is at midnight, of course, but our church leadership knows that those of us with young children can't come to that one, so they give us one all our own. :) Is it possible that your church isn't trying to separate as much as accommodate?

    That said, I completely agree with the sentiment - one of the things that I value most about BSac is that we are never discouraged from keeping our children with us, and the inevitable noises are greeted with smiles from pulpit and pews.

  2. I can't stand children's services either - where everything is dumbed down and some person comes out and talks in a fake voice to the kids - it drives me nuts. But I definitely know what Emily is talking about - it is really hard, if not impossible, to get kids to a real midnight service! We managed to get Nathan and Emma to our 10 o'clock one and that went pretty well. We left Gregory with Susan because he is a grump if he is up late, and does not do well with being woken up and dragged out of bed.

    I wish more churches would do the same service as the midnight one, but at an earlier time so that it would be easier for families without losing the beauty of the real service. The other church in our parish does a 7 pm one, but the music director at that church formerly lived in Las Vegas. We've speculated that he worked as a lounge singer, but perhaps we're just being unkind. I'll just stop now and I'll just leave the rest to your imagination. :-)

    It was great to see you today, I hope we can see you again before you fly out! (My apologies for the poor grammar & punctuation here - I really should be going to bed)

  3. Hear, hear Sarah! Our Christmas Eve service was lessons and carols replete with some noisy cries from the back. It is a little distracting, but I agree that children should be with their families on Christmas. The richness of the traditions are even sweeter when you can remember participating in them at a very young age.

  4. Emily and Amber, I definitely agree that an earlier service is better for young ones - I should have mentioned that our service was at 8 pm, not midnight - this is a congregational church, not catholic.