This growing controversy over empty megachurches on Sunday is fascinating. First, the mainstream media’s interest in it indicates a growing awareness of religious life in the country and also perhaps a desire to portray evangelicals as less than faithful. Second, to be fair to our brethren many are remaining true to the traditions and principles of their denominations by not celebrating Christmas. The theological justification for this is hinted at in the New York Times story:
“This attachment to a particular day on the calendar is just not something that megachurches have been known for,” Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University, said. “They’re known for being flexible and creative, and not for taking these traditions, seasons, dates and symbols really seriously.”
Those who descend from the Puritan tradition wouldn’t think of celebrating Christmas or any other holy day for that matter, because, as one friend put it last night, “Every day’s Christmas and everyday’s Easter, though a little more Easter than Christmas.” Celebrating holy days isn’t in the Bible, so some abstain.
What some churches offer in lieu of Christmas is less than heartwarming. One Illinois megachurch is producing a DVD featuring a “contemporary Christmas tale.” A Georgia church is offering streaming video of a Christmas service on its website, the Times reports. The church’s pastor said he expects a spike in traffic as families rather ’round the computer.