Why I Love C & E Christians

Photo by Sarah Dibbern

Photo by Sarah Dibbern

Churches will soon swell with Christmas Eve crowds eager to hear an inspiring message of hope. It’s a time when regular church attenders will find themselves nestled into pews next to folks they don’t recognize. Shoulder to shoulder with people known as “C” & “E” Christians.

Maybe Christmas and Easter Christians are too busy, too tired, too wounded or too cynical to attend church regularly. But the high holidays still pack enough spiritual punch to draw folks into the presence of the divine on at least two occasions.

But I beg you, do not scoff at the C & E’s, as I am indebted to a C & E  family’s annual trek to church. You see, I wasn’t raised in a church-going home. We didn’t pray before meals or discuss sin and salvation. I was a child more familiar with fairy tales than bible stories. My Christmases and Easters were filled with Christmas presents and Easter baskets, candy canes and chocolate eggs. But no church.

And then, during sophomore year in high school, neighbors invited me to a Christmas party. I walked down the block and encountered the usual crumbly cookies, fizzy punch and white elephant gifts. I was pleased just to be included, and at the end of the evening, prepared to head home. That’s when my neighbor tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You should come to church with us. We go every year on Christmas Eve at midnight.”

Church at midnight? I was curious about what happens at church during the hour I typically lie awake waiting for mom to stuff lip-gloss and chocolates into my Christmas stocking shaped like a ballerina slipper. So I tagged along. A gaggle of giddy C & E’s filled an entire row near the back of the sanctuary.

I was enchanted by the artistry of church architecture, the stained glass, the icons. Candlelight glowed. A choir caroled from a loft like an assembly of angels leading the congregation in an ever-building chorus of adoration. I wanted more of this in my life. More connection to other Jesus followers. More understanding of life beyond myself. More reverence for the Creator and creation.

I hurried home excited to share the experience with my mother. It turned out, she also wanted more. More community, more connection, more purpose. We started going to church. I was baptized. A believer in the life-changing power of faith, hope and grace.

And now, this Christmas Eve, I’ll attend church with my husband and children like I do every Christmas and every Sunday. My mother will go to church. My extended family will go to church. We do church. Regularly. And it’s partly because of an invitation from a few faithful C & E’s. Because of them, many have encountered Christ and the gifts of community, service and spiritual growth found within a church family.

So if you’re a “regular” seated next to someone unfamiliar on Christmas Eve, give them a special welcome, a hug, a smile, and maybe even a thank you from me. And whether you’re a regular church attender or a C & E Christian, be encouraged to invite someone to church. Your invitation could change lives much like a simple invitation changed mine.

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9 thoughts on “Why I Love C & E Christians

  1. Angela, this is beautiful and I am sharing with many friends and in social media. It’s a tribute to Christian faith and love. It takes all kinds of kinds and I am thankful you are a “A believer in the life-changing power of faith, hope and grace” that shared your experience and words today. Truly what I needed this season.
    Katie
    thepinkepost.com

    • Thank you Katie. I appreciate your kind words. Since we don’t live near relatives, our church family has truly become our family. I recommend folks give church a try. The worship experiences, the service opportunities, the sense of community and shared values continue to be a blessing to me at Christmastime and all year long.

      • I grew in church but now as adult appreciate the community and service opportunities more than ever. I have grown in my Christian walk and learned to give back so much more from the example of others in my church. I know Jesus didn’t just stay with his followers. He went where others wouldn’t go and that is something I try to do. But it is my church family that inspires me and gives me the courage to grow in my faith to try new outreach. Thank you again Angela. Merry Christmas! I am going to give hugs to some C & E church goers on Christmas Eve this year in my home church!

  2. Hi Angela. Thank you for sharing your story. Jesus says welcome the stranger. How God’s grace finds its way into people’s lives is always amazing! I’m going to share it as encouragement to the regular church-goers I know who often get annoyed with the C & E Christians! We only have one time to make a first impression.

    I also did not grow up going to church, however through several people in my life, the Lord found me! I have served as a Director of Outreach for the last 10 years and currently serve a the Director of an urban ministry, helping others to know the Lord and equipping Christians to do the same.

    I blog at http://www.MissionJesusStyle.blogspot.com Stop in from time to time. God’s blessings on your journey!

    Tina

  3. Pingback: A Reason to Celebrate | Words by Angela

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