Christmas is a great time for Christians. But how the denominations do differ.

I spent this Christmas in the well heeled town of Harpenden and what an eye opener it was. The church was a vast stone monolith with a curious non-symetrical interior. It was standing room only and the congregation might have numbered 2,000. I can only guess at that because I have no experience of calculating large numbers of people.

Both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church are embroiled in problems without a ready solution. Pope Francis is a rising star and media magnet whose charisma is filling up churches. On the other hand Archbishop Welby Has some churches that are heaving with worshippers while others wilt.

On the plus side both denominations are led by energetic people who are determined to look to the health of Christianity in their churches, and unity in both is certainly a healing factor.

Nonetheless, it is worrying that in one local Anglican church there is a faction that is bordering on heresy. It is small but very influential. It believes that singing hymns in church is the equal of the Eucharist and is prepared to offer punishment on those who have a higher regard for the Eucharist. They do not seem to understand that the Eucharist for believers is a modern day miracle. The transubstantiation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Nothing can compare with that, but the faction is close to declaring that hymn singing is mandatory.

Coercian is repugnant to any mainstream religeon but it is mysteriously acceptable to some zealots. However, they have no authority to make declarations about the value of singing hymns. They could find themselves in hot water for striking out on their own without the support of Christ. Remember, He said "do this in remembrence of me", but never did he say "in church thou shalt sing all hymns mightily".

I have not been drawn into this dichotomy; I have only brought my own flask of coffee to the church so as not to be put on the spot by zealots who want to garner support.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

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