I’m in Regi­na, Saskatchewan with fam­i­ly for the hol­i­days. Some­one said “Let’s go to a Christ­mas Eve car­ol service” and five of us did that. We went to Lake­view Unit­ed, where “United” sig­ni­fies the Unit­ed Church of Cana­da, the biggest Protes­tant de­nom­i­na­tion up here. It was up­lift­ing and pleas­ant and sort of sad. Dis­clo­sure: I’m not Chris­tian at al­l; but stil­l.

Carol Service at Lakeview United

As you can see, the con­gre­ga­tion (for the 8PM De­cem­ber 24th ser­vice) was sparse and el­der­ly. The statis­tics are re­morse­less: Chris­tian­i­ty is in de­cline. The pro­por­tion of Cana­di­ans who at­tend church week­ly is not far from 10%.

This sur­pris­es me, if on­ly be­cause the Church’s tools are still very strong. The voic­es raised in Christ­mas hymns were breath­tak­ing (the crowd, while smal­l, sang well), the Gospel’s words telling the Christ­mas sto­ry were beau­ti­ful, and Sue Breis­ch, the Min­is­ter, was elo­quent and wel­com­ing, broad­cast­ing love and em­pa­thy. Here are some of her ser­mon­s.

The build­ing is re­al­ly fine in a Six­ties kind of way, its main hall com­fort­able, with big com­fy rock­ing chairs and cof­fee ta­bles at the back.

Maybe it’s as sim­ple as this: Even if you don’t ac­tive­ly dis­be­lieve (as I do) the Chris­tian nar­ra­tive, re­li­gion has lost its ur­gen­cy, and as lives are in­creas­ing­ly filled by the Net and the pres­sures of late cap­i­tal­is­m, there are ways to fill Sun­day morn­ings that feel more im­por­tan­t.

Hav­ing said that, I en­joyed the words and mu­sic in­tense­ly  —  lack of faith didn’t get in the way  —  and rec­om­mend do­ing this sort of thing from time to time. I al­so think it might be good for you. And maybe I’m wrong, maybe Je­sus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, and you’ll end up sav­ing your soul from eter­nal tor­men­t.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: tedder (Dec 26 2018, at 18:44)

Love the double meaning of "practice". As an avowed atheist, recovering from a conservative religion, I still look up passages in the Bible, typically after they are mentioned in the news, TV shows, and the like. From an academic point of view it's interesting, especially to compare the different translations.

oof- Pascal's Wager. Not gonna touch that.

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From: Doug K (Dec 27 2018, at 11:15)

That's unexpected - carol services in Denver tend to be packed to the rafters. St John's Episcopal cathedral is where we go, when feeling strong enough to deal with the crowds.

This year I did what my poor old mother-in-law in S. Africa does, attend by wire. King's College in Cambridge has an annual Festival of Lessons and Carols, broadcast by the BBC (link from my name). It's glorious.

Every year it includes an original carol from one the college composers. Now there's an odd idea. This year was for cello and choir.

"For who would keep an ancient form

Thro’ which the spirit breathes no more?"

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December 26, 2018
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