by Voracious Reader
I love Christmas. It’s always been my favorite holiday. Partly because it’s Christ’s birth (yes, I know it’s not the actual day of His birth but work with me here) and partly because the world just seems a little kinder this time of year. I love the Christmas lights, the carols and songs, the decorations and of course the presents. There’s just an excitement in the air this time of year that doesn’t seem to show up at any other time.
This year Christmas falls on a Sunday. Because of that I’ve been seeing various announcements from churches saying they won’t have services on Sunday so that staff and congregants can be with their families on that day instead. And while I can understand their reasoning, and I don’t blame them for not wanting to work, I can’t help but think how selfish such a decision seems to those looking in from the outside. If we claim Christ’s name by calling ourselves Christians, shouldn’t Christmas falling on Sunday make it that much more important to gather together as a Church body to worship Christ? Shouldn’t it make it a higher priority?
Now I in no way am trying to condemn or ridicule those who choose not to go to services on Sunday. After all, where two or three are gathered in His name He is there with us. We certainly can stay home, have a lovely Christmas and still be worshipping Him. Paul tells us that in whatever we do we should do it unto Christ. For many on Christmas Sunday making it to church just isn’t feasible, whether due to weather, family gatherings or a multitude of other reasons. I believe it’s the heart behind what we do that matters most to God, so if going to church is just done because its “something we should do” I don’t see how that would be very pleasing to God. Nobody wants to feel like they’re just an item on a list to be checked off and then moved on from.
That being said though, not having church on Christmas Sunday especially when a church has the means to, brings to my mind the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22. The king gave a wedding feast for his son and told his servants to ask all those who were invited to come to the feast. But then many excuses were made as to why those invited couldn’t make it, excuses that really weren’t time-sensitive, things that could have easily been put off, leading me to think those invited just really didn’t want to go so they justified it in important sounding ways. This, rightfully so, angered the king so he sent his servants to go gather all whom they found on the roads, good or bad. The really condemning thing, to me anyway, is these strangers came without hesitation. Surely they too had things to do, work they were on their way to or in the middle of, yet they went at the king’s invitation. My question this Christmas season is, are we like the invited guests or are we like the random people invited at the last moment? Will we accept the invitation to celebrate the King, or will we let life and our own comfort keep us from enjoying the blessing of celebrating with fellow believers on the day that literally changed history?
Please remember that my intention is not to cast stones or pit one Church that’s having services against another Church that has chosen not to have services. I’m as lazy as the next person and often struggle with motivating myself to go to church every Sunday too. My only goal, my hope, is to remind everyone what Christmas is all about, to remind even myself, that taking opportunities to focus and center on Christ should never be wasted or discarded for lesser things that are like chaff in the wind.
I think ultimately what matters most is that we remember WHY we celebrate Christmas. That we don’t let family togetherness, presents, food or tensions cause us to ignore that Christmas day is singularly the most important day in history, apart from Resurrection Sunday. There would be no Resurrection Sunday without Christmas, and Christmas would be meaningless without Resurrection Sunday. Whatever we choose to do on Christmas Sunday I hope we do it for the glory of Christ. That we remember to honor, worship and celebrate Christ this Christmas. Don’t be like the invited guests who let excuses keep them from the best thing. Keep Christ at the center and everything else in its rightful place, where it’s important but not the most important part of the day.
Wishing you all a Merry, and blessed, Christmas!