Last night I went to Midnight Mass with Tony and Julie.
Now before you all die of shock let me just say that I didn't go for religious reasons but in search of something heartwarming and meaningful for, like many, I am firmly of the opinion Christmas has become too commercial. I want my Christmas to mean more than a broken bank balance!
So I thought I'd go to Midnight Mass and see if it gave me what I was looking for.
On entering the church I was dazzled by the splendorous depictions of the saints and the towering ceiling. Being an educated person, I was very aware of the power plays being enacted upon me and they continued into the service itself: The congregation were sinners and were to ask Christ and God for forgiveness. The communion was to accept Christ, The Saviour, within oneself (a cruel person may jest that the communion is cannibalism) to purify their soul, etc.
I was left in no doubt that I was to consider myself lowly and Christ and God as infinitely superior but, more so, The Church was also superior since it was their messenger service.
Having been educated in the Christian faith, this rankles with me because, to my mind, Christ was a socialist. I believe he wanted to give the power to the people not any Church. But in the past 2000 years, no matter what Christian denomination you are or are not, The Church have very much muscled in on the act.
However in 2013, I would say there are also very many Christians who are not Church goers and, although it may annoy The Churches to see their power base slipping away, I am all in favour of that.
The Church gets in the way of Christians practicing their faith as Christ would want. With their bigoted pronouncements, they also give Christians a bad name. And, in short, I believe The Church (of whatever denomination) is about as anti-Christian as any organisation gets! (And surely it is a sign of how wayward The Church has become that many Christians are now nervous about being out and proud about their faith?)
However, I did have one revelation whilst at Midnight Mass - I am a Christian. I believe in the idea of Christ and that his legend was created for good reasons. I also believe the ideals he espoused (having love and charity in your heart, taking responsibility for yourself, etc) form all that is good about the society I live in.
Thus, when I returned home this morning, I outed myself as a Christian, summing up my belief as follows, "I believe in the idea of Christ and the ideals of Christ but no church of Christ".
Incidentally, I don't proclaim myself to be a Christian to be disparaging about any other faith. I do not believe Christianity is the one true faith. Rather, I claim myself to be a Christian because that is the one faith I was educated in and know anything about. I fully acknowledge that I could be a Muslim or a Bhudist or whatever if my circumstances had been different.
So, anyway, today is the celebration of the birth of Christ and, in good faith, I wish you all a Merry Christmas! xxx