Kirk moderator regrets castigating those who only go to church at Christmas

By staff writers
December 23, 2014

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland says he regrets once castigating those who only come to church at Christmas.

In a Christmas message on the Kirk’s official website ( the Rt Rev John Chalmers says: “Years ago I thought it was role of a Presbyterian minister to be critical of all the excess materialism which pervaded Christmas. So one Christmas Eve in front of packed congregation I had a go at those people who, in my opinion, didn’t pay attention to the real meaning of Christmas and I put the tin lid on it by criticising those who only came to church once a year.”

In a change of heart he declares: “I have repented of such foolishness. Now I believe that those who pack our churches on Christmas Eve do so because the power of Christmas still draws them in to hear the story of God, in the life of a tiny baby, breaking through the darkness to bring light into the world.”

Mr Chalmers goes on to urge all to attend their local Watchnight or morning service on Christmas Day.” If it’s got anything to do with me there will be a warm welcome awaiting you and there will be an opportunity for you to put Christ back into Christmas. “

And in a reference to the outbreak of goodwill which broke out during World War One, Mr Chalmers adds: “One hundred years ago on the Western Front it was the power of Christmas that punched a hole in the battle between two warring sides.

“Men climbed out of their trenches, shared their tobacco and chocolate cake and kicked a football on a muddy field. We may have something of a romantic notion of what happened on Christmas Eve 1914 and there were mixed motives for soldiers and officers lowering their guns and extending the hand of goodwill, peace, love and Christmas cheer, but what else than the heart of Christmas could have made even that temporary pause in hostilities happen.

“Love came down at Christmas and I will continue to pray for a day in the future when goodwill, peace, love and Christmas cheer will breakout across many other hostile fronts.”

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