I may have come across to such readership as this blog may have as a bit, in terms of the usual nomenclature, conservative and traditional. You know, one of those confessional types, all red hymnal, "historic" (read, the one used for more or less 1,500 years until we all starting acting like Rome still ran the show and jumped on their new one) lectionary, and like that.
Our midnight service is like this. It's written and done by the teen group, yes with pastoral input, but it's theirs. They write it, they do it. There's Christmas hymns, responsive prayer and all, and the feature is a play they write and perform. This year's illustrated how the Christmas story gets kind of warped in our minds with all the hustle and bustle of the world in general and what it makes of Christmas in particular. It had a guy telling the Christmas story, all wrong -- my favourite was when the angel announced the sign would be a brand new Wal-Mart -- with the players enacting the mistelling, someone in the back shouting "That's not what happened", a voice-over correcting it, and the players re-assembling to enact the real thing, throughout the story, then after the play the Luke nativity account was read. No clergy, no liturgy, certainly not the first mass of Christmas and not at midnight but 11pm. It ends with the congregation in a circle with candles, singing Silent Night.
I love it. We go every year. The first time we went, it was the first time we attended the parish and the first time I attended an LCMS church not to be at someone's wedding or funeral but to worship -- which, being an elder in WELS at the time, isn't something I was supposed to do! I went hoping for the first mass of Christmas and maybe even a little German here and there. And got this instead -- and it was just fine. Still is. We started coming back. We joined. I've stayed too, even though typical worship is the LW version of what is now DS1 in LSB and the blasted three-year lectionary is used, wannabe Vatican II For Lutherans. And here on one of the biggest events in the church year, a play by the youth group not the first mass of Christmas. Why, you'd think a guy like me would be livid, or at least ready to rumble at the next voter's meeting! But I'm not. Go every year, rather than to the regular Christmas services we also have. I love it, our teens in the middle of the night telling the story of Christ's birth in this way. But hey, as they used to say where I grew up, don't tella nobody!
And speaking of the Vatican, I don't waste my time watching "Midnight Mass" from the Vatican any more like I used to before God put the Lutheran church in my path, hoping just maybe to find I was wrong and the Catholic Church still is the Catholic Church and everything's OK, only to see once again it isn't and having no idea what to do or where to go except to wait for another, to borrow a phrase. There was a link about it on the start page when I booted up, so I clicked on it. Looks like the birth of Christ who was born to die so that we could die to live was proclaimed so unambiguously that the press went on about the environmental concern that seems to be becoming a characteristic of the current papacy. Yeah, I know, the press doesn't get religion let alone Christianity, and they don't. Still, those Apostles from whom these guys claim to be in succession managed to proclaim that message so unambiguously that they got tossed in the slam for not shutting up about it or saying something else. I read where this year's Vatican nativity scene placed it in Joseph's home in Nazareth rather than a feeding trough -- that's what a manger is -- in a stable in Bethlehem. Roman officials explained this is to show Jesus is born everywhere for everyone.
Nice touch, Roman dudes. He WAS born for everyone -- in Bethlehem in a stable. He IS born in the hearts of believers everywhere -- which is the focus of the second mass of Christmas. How typically Roman. Tinker with the material and say you're making the same point. Guess what, mitred dudes, even when you are making the same point, the point comes with a story that doesn't need to be tinkered with to make the point, a story God chose. Leave it alone. Or rather, tell it. Oh well, I guess that's why there is a Lutheran church, so there can be the real catholic church.
I'll take the Youth Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve any day. Well, any Christmas Eve.
They told the story.
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