"This Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, some of our parishioners will come into our church and pray with us for the first time in months. For those of us who attend church weekly or daily, we have a choice about our attitude to those who 'arrive' this Christmas - are they our family home, or uninvited guests that we need to accomodate?! Will we be polite, hostile or welcoming? Will we allow them to be with us or jump up and give them the best chairs?!
Here are a few tips to being a Christian community this Christmas who takes its responsibility to hospitality seriously:
- Print out some welcome posters which wish all Happy Christmas in many languages. They are free HERE. Put them up in every window and door you can so they genuinely welcome people! You can even put up a few down town with details of Christmas Mass!
- Most of our parishioners still don't know the Mass text of the new translation. Just stand in a church porch during a funeral Mass and you'll hear what I mean.
I know, I know, its over a year now .... but is the main point here about 'us being right' or about 'us being Christ to one another'!?
So, please don't just leave leaflets in boxes near the door, newcomers or occassional visitors don't know to look there!
Have at least 2 people at every entrance handing out leaflets, at every Mass. Yes, at every Mass ... its that important. (A job for the Confirmation Class!?) Then, the chief celebrant can invite people to pick up their leaflets and join in the Creed/Gloria/Mass responses. So we pray together, and we don't make people feel even less connected, and thus even less likely to return!
- If there is a procession to the crib during the entrance, please invite people to sit first. Its totally frustrating to be able to see or hear nothing cause we're all standing for 2-5 minutes. Those at the back of the church should have equal opportunity to see and be inspired by your good efforts as those in the front pews.
- Ask the choir to have at least 2 well known Christmas carols at all services. People are only mad to sing Christmas carols, and however beautiful the choir are, people only get one chance in the year to sing 'O come all ye faithful'. It may not be as pretty, but its an experience of community prayer that can't be beaten and shouldn't be underestimated!
- In terms of involving family - this leaflet HERE has some ideas from other parishes, readings and suggestions for Christmas Eve. You might also like to offer families - some prayers to include are HERE