I guess it happens every so and so (maybe 7) number of years that Xmas Day falls on a Sunday. If you have a problem with me writing “Xmas,” and plenty of Christians do (including several on a search committee I interviewed with a few years ago), let R.C. Sproul straighten things out for you.
Anyhow, many churches wonder what to do when with Christmas falls on a Sunday? Some see great opportunity. Some see great difficulty because numbers will be down. Some wonder whether or not to move or cancel services.
According to Ed Stetzer, it does appear that many churches have elected to have corporate worship on this Christmas.
A recent LifeWay Research study of 1,000 Protestant pastors shows that 91 percent of Protestant pastors plan to have services on Christmas Day while 69 percent said they plan to host Christmas Eve services.
Here’s why I think its a good idea to have worship this Sunday Dec 25th.
1.) If you believe that worship should be held on the first day of the week, as seems to the implied pattern in scripture (John 20:1,19; Acts 20:7; I Cor 16:2) , as well as the practice of most churches not called “Seventh-Day Adventist,” then you probably should continue corporate worship that day.
2.) Our actions always teach something. Now of course those actions are always subject to interpretation unless one is given in conjunction. In other words, you can’t simply assume what your actions teach. But let’s consider what a service cancellation most likely teaches. What would be the main reason why people wouldn’t want to come to church on Xmas Sunday morning? Family traditions. Presents. Family. That’s what Xmas is often “about.” If not Santa and presents, then it soon becomes about family. So by canceling a worship service because of, or so that, people can spend time with family, it seems to me that you’re teaching “family first, Jesus second.” According to Jesus, the order is actually reversed (Luke 14:26). What suburbanite doesn’t need to not only hear this, but to practice this? Our families are often our idols. I know from experience: MY OWN!
3.) In looking at some of the comments on Ed Stetzer’s blog post, I noticed that some folks believed they were loving their pastors well by giving them Xmas Day off to spend time with family. My family and I (well at least Amy, but I can’t imagine my 3 year old not being excited because he wants to be at church every day) are excited to be in church. Part of it is that we don’t have family here. But part of it is that worship is our favorite time of the week. I don’t say this because I think I’m holier or better than you if you don’t. I’m just saying I WANT to be there. Last week my wife talked to a mother who said, “I’m so excited that Xmas falls on a Sunday. I can’t wait!” We’re not alone.
4.) What better way to elevate Jesus above presents, even above your family or family traditions, than by setting those aside in order to worship Jesus with your brothers and sisters in the faith? It gives you an opportunity to teach your children why you worship. It gives you a chance to declare before your extended family, that Jesus is your King. You will follow Him first even when it conflicts with family “obligations.”
5.) Many Christians literally risk life and limb to come to worship. We don’t need to feel guilty that we don’t, but isn’t our tendency only to worship when it doesn’t involve risk or cost to us?
Just some of my thoughts on why church’s should have worship on Xmas Day, and why I think Christians should seriously consider doing family stuff before or after worship.
Here are some unhealthy motivations (we probably all need to repent from) for going to worship on Sunday Dec 25th
1.) You think your church is better than others. God will soon prove that He thinks the same way too.
2.) You just want to teach your kids that Xmas isn’t about Santa or gifts, but don’t consider the importance, need, desire for you to be there as well
3.) You are jealous and angry of the others getting a head start on the sticky-buns and sausage balls and the real fun.