I was felling nostalgic this past Sunday. Through most years of my life Christmas Sunday was special. Everyone came to church to worship. Seats were full and there was something special about the praise and carol singing. Those days are long gone. My heart was heavy as I drove past church after church on my way to lunch on Sunday. Parking lots were sparse. Not too many worshippers any longer. Christmas worship has lost its importance…as had worship in general.
Two articles recently caught my attention. One was in the Wall Street Journal and the other in U. S. News. Both articles told the same story of the demise of Christianity in our culture. Fewer and fewer identify as Christians any longer. More and more claim to be nothing. Church attendance is waning. Even those who claim to be followers of Jesus rarely follow Him into corporate worship.
To some extent, I get it. There is a pandemic and many still harbor fears. Well, sort of. Few fears for other public events, but certainly fears for worship. In fact, since the virus began, church attendance is about 35% of what it was. Granted, a few churches have seen the return of nearly 50%, but not many. One reason this is disturbing is that the movie theater people have seen a return of 70% during the same time period. Twice as many have returned to the theaters as have returned to the church…even at Christmas.
I am aware that in the Catholic church there are “days of obligation.” Those are days where adherents are expected to be present in worship. I am not suggesting such days are a good thing. I believe we gather for worship out of the love we have for our Lord. Our worship here is a prelude to the eternal worship we will someday experience in God’s very presence. I wonder, if more and more are failing to see the value in Sunday worship now, will they truly desire it in eternity? Only God knows.