The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them has light shined.
This Wednesday (at 3pm and 7pm) our church will welcome a number of people for whom church attendance is limited to Christmas Eve and Easter. In the church community these people are often referred to as “Chreasters” or the “C and E crowd.” I can remember as a child how wonderful it felt to be at church on Christmas Eve and see all sorts of people from the community worshipping together who never attend for any other occasion. Christmas Eve is one of the profound worship experiences that brings all sorts of people together to praise God for coming into the world as a baby in a manger.
One of my friends, and former pastor, Jason Micheli has this to say about the “Chreasters” who only attend church on a limited basis: “The dirty little secret is that often the way preachers and church people talk about ‘Chreasters’ makes them sound like the bad guys, like we want to make them feel guilty for not being regular church-going people. Which doesn’t make any sense to me because I gotta think ‘Chreasters’ are exactly the sort of people Jesus would prefer to hang out with… So rather than looking down on them with guilt-inducing contempt. We should, like the Lord we adore, simply welcome them in the thrill to be with them.” (you can read more of Jason’s thoughts about ‘Chreasters’ here: Tamed Cynic)
For this one night, we have the privilege to sit beside weary travelers on the roads of life who, for whatever reason, have decided to worship the Lord. It is nothing short of a blessing to find churches filled with people on Christmas Eve because it is a time for us to proclaim that wonderful and great truth: God is with us. Many will come because they feel suffocated by the darkness of life’s burdens, and we will be there with them as they experience the light of the world.
This Christmas Eve, wherever you worship, I encourage you to open your eyes to ALL who gather to celebrate the new born king. Do not look down on the “Chreasters” with contempt for their limited worship, but instead give thanks to God for putting them in your life. Above all, be fully present with those around you and rejoice knowing that the light of the world shines in the darkness.