Every year, there is a murmur in the pews when people appear in churches for the nativity play or Christmas mass, who seem to be more or less hiding for the rest of the liturgical year. And every year a serious opportunity is missed when these people are rejected and treated with a sense of their own integrity, instead of being kindly welcomed into the community and in celebration.
In the evening program “Neo Magazin Royale” on December 13, Jan Böhmermann very aptly expressed the justified criticism of the churches, imitating “faithful” Christians who prematurely judged the distance from the church on Christmas Eve: It happens that once a year quarterly Christians recharge their contemplative batteries here and take the place of our regular customers. Get out! ” He referred to the Protestant community in Essen-Haarzopf, which is distributing tickets for Christmas Eve services this year.
The season of Advent and Christmas in particular invites you to take a deep breath in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, to come back to yourself and, if possible, to trace the mysterious character of Christmas with all your senses. The so-called low-threshold offers. While many occasions in the liturgical year (such as Corpus Christi or Christ the King Sunday) remain incomprehensible to most of their sacred significance, on Christmas it is simpler: a child is born and is seen as a miracle by all who can admire it. Baby Jesus came into the world to show new hope to the needy and despairing. With his life and death, he shows solidarity with all who are lonely and suffer in different ways, because he does not run away from the abyss of being human. Nativity scenes set in churches, decorated Christmas trees, Advent and Christmas carols all attract people and perhaps especially remind them of their own childhood.
It is therefore completely inappropriate when a statio or homily is used to accuse those who have set out and gathered expectantly of how severe the annual consumer addiction, the hustle and bustle of the Christmas market, or home decorations are. What damage arises when animal lovers also treat dogs and cats on the Advent calendar? What is reprehensible about the fact that colleagues meet for mulled wine after a full day’s work and thus find a better way to get along outside the workplace? Doesn’t that mean, even on a small scale, what theologians preach and teach on a large scale as the kingdom of God?
Nor should you ignore the fact that there are often reasons why people, with the exception of Christmas Eve, keep away from the congregations. Do they feel accepted and accepted in their life situation? Have you had to go through difficult experiences? Are the liturgy and the time of worship attractive? Do you know about local deals at all? Rather than being a “stumbling block,” critical feedback should be a challenge to a “thorn in the flesh” of Christians.
Advent and Christmas can be time for conversation. This can be done in many ways: by handing out parish letters, in church cafes, or by approaching each other after (not only) services at the exit of the church or in the courtyard. This is by no means the sole responsibility of pastors. It can be done just as easily by representatives of the parish council or other community representatives. Incidentally, it is not only the pastoral theologian Johannes Först that rightly observes that without those who are remote from him and who – though they seem to be hiding – constantly secretly pay their church taxes, the Church as an organized institution. it would be worse, not only financially. Without them, would it be possible to maintain an equal degree of far-reaching charity?
So finish the “submarine Christians” talk! If you save yourself the spit, you can use your energy more wisely elsewhere. Especially during Advent and Christmas, I want the church to be a friendly place to invite people and receive inquiries. Finally, the Christmas story shows how painful it is when you have existential cares and needs but cannot find housing or accommodation.