A rector has criticised people who only attend church during the festive season accusing them of treating God like an unwanted elderly relative.
The Telegraph reports:
A vicar has criticised people who only attend Church over the festive season telling them: “God is for life – not just for Christmas”.
The Reverend Steve Goodbody accused Christmas-only churchgoers of treating God “like an elderly relative of whom they are not very fond.”
Writing in his parish magazine Today, he said: “I confess that I do sometimes wonder about what goes through the minds of those who attend church services on such an irregular basis.
“After all, if we believe that the Christmas message is true – that God really did send his only Son into the world to save us from our sins – then attending church just once or twice a year seems a rather feeble response to God’s amazing generosity.
“Some people even seem to treat God a bit like an elderly relative of whom they are not very fond.
“They go and visit him for an hour or two at Christmas and perhaps at Easter, but they feel at liberty to ignore him for the rest of the year (unless they want something from him of course).
“An elderly relative would not be very impressed by this level of devotion and nor is God, He surely deserves better than this.”
The rector of Exe Valley in Devon labelled festive revellers heading for the odd Christmas service as hypocrites.
He continued: “On the other hand, if we think that the message of Christmas is untrue – that it is just a myth or a fairy story – then why do we bother going to church at all? It is a bit of a sham to go through the motions if deep down we think that it is a load of nonsense.
“We may enjoy the sentimental feeling that the carol service generates but if it is all based on a falsehood or a delusion, then we are simply indulging a fantasy.”
John Burton, of Washfield, Devon, was angry with the rector’s message.
He said: “While regular church attendance is very important to some of us, such hostile messages from the clergy are unlikely to increase congregations.”
The Rev Ian Johnson, a retired team rector from Southampton, who now lives in Tiverton, said some clergy might privately share Rev Goodbody’s views but would not express them publicly.
He said: “For 40 years I had a full church at Christmas and Easter and the rest of the year our churches were half empty.”