Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Christmas and Easter People

A parking lot with several cars in parking spaces, plus one car tilted up sideways so 2 of its wheels are resting on another car. Image text: "Parking at church on Easter." Image source.
Anyone who attends church regularly is familar with the phemonenom of "Christmas and Easter people." These are people who only show their faces at your church on Christmas and Easter. And oh how we judged them. We judged them so hard.

I mean, clearly, if you're only at church twice a year, then church isn't that important to you. Clearly, Christianity isn't that important to you. Clearly, you're a fake Christian and you're just at church because there's a cultural expectation that you're supposed to go to church on Christmas and Easter.

(This is the same Christian culture that produces all those blog posts about "5 stupid reasons for not going to church" which basically amount to "there is no acceptable excuse for not going to church regularly." Samantha Field has written a great post critiquing this: the not-so-ridiculous reasons people leave church.)

When I was in college, there was one year when Easter fell on the first Sunday of the month. Normally, the first Sunday was the Sunday we did communion, but on this month, they moved it to the second Sunday, so it wouldn't be on Easter. At the time, I understood the reasoning to be "on Easter, a lot of fake Christians will come to church, and it's a sin to eat communion if you're not a real Christian, so we want to avoid that." I think maybe something was said about Easter Sunday being more busy than usual, so logistically it was easier to not do communion that week- but I don't know if that was the real reason or if that was just a polite way to cover up "let's not let 'Christmas and Easter people' have the body and blood of Christ."

(And by the way: back then, communion was just this thing we did once a month, where you were supposed to remember Jesus' death and feel really really guilty for it. But now I've read about how Christians from various other denominations view communion [or Eucharist] and how it has so much more meaning and it's so important. And how, oh goodness, that's EXACTLY the kind of thing you want to be doing on Easter Sunday. And that's EXACTLY the kind of thing you want people to be able to experience, if this is the only time they're going to be at your church.)

We would joke about the "Christmas and Easter people", how funny it was that we would only see them in church twice a year. How their commitment to Jesus was such a hilarious joke.

And... yeah. Easter was last week, and I went to church, for the first time in a while. I've become a Christmas and Easter person.

If you think it's because I'm not committed to Christianity, you're wrong. I want so bad to go to church, and if I could find one that didn't cause me to have depression, you know I would be there every week. But I care SO MUCH about Easter, I care SO MUCH about resurrection, that I want to be with other Christians on that day. Even though I'm not going to fit in. Even though things will be said from the pulpit that make me feel I'm not really welcome. I'm willing to sit through that, as stressful as it is, 2 days a year, because I really really believe in resurrection and incarnation. And on Easter and Christmas, I know every church will also be celebrating resurrection and incarnation.

I hate the way I was taught to judge Christmas and Easter people. I hate the fact that, for people who live in that culture of joking about Christmas and Easter people, there's nothing I can say to convince them that I am just as much a Christian as any churchgoer.

I hate the way evangelicals are trained to be always on the lookout for "fake Christians."

But I still love resurrection.

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