Do You Need Reasons to Come to Church on Christmas?
One of the sad realities of the day in which we live is that a small percentage (3%) of American churches are cancelling their Sunday services this year because it happens to fall on December 25th, 2016. This happens for various reasons: some say that having a service immediately after the Christmas Eve service is exhausting for volunteers. Some say that it's exhausting for the church members to attend two services back to back. Other say that they just want to stay home with their families so that they can honor their family traditions of opening presents, having a late breakfast, and spending the day in their pajamas.
While I'm a sucker for opening presents in my jammies (for real), I ultimately feel that these reasons fall completely flat. I realize that talking about church attendance and the Lord's Day over observing Christmas is red meat to most Presbyterians, I'm not afraid of being a little stereotypical with this post. We at Pearl Presbyterian Church will be having our morning services on December 25th this year, just as always. I want to share a few reasons why:
1. The Lord's Day does not happen to be on Christmas this year. Christmas happens to be on the Lord's Day this year.
What do I mean by this? What I mean is that before Sunday, December 25th is Christmas, it is the Lord's Day. Back in the book of Genesis, God established a pattern of working six days and resting one: a pattern which was kept until the present day. We observe the Lord's Day every Sunday, without fail at Pearl Presbyterian Church. While Christmas is a special day, it was never mandated by God. It was never established by God as a required or necessary day for God's people to observe. The Lord's Day, by comparison, is commanded by God, while Christmas is not. It just so happens that this year we will give special attention to the birth of the Lord Jesus and the gift to the world that he is from the Father.
2. How you observe the Lord's Day teaches your children volumes.
I have four children. How my wife and I look at each Sunday is very important, because it tells our children the truth about how we regard that day. They can tell if you hate it. If it's a burden. If you despise going. They know! They're very intelligent. And they learn from the example of your attitudes and actions. Let's just say you don't attend Church on December 25th. What will your children learn from your example? You may say they'll learn that family is important. Fair enough. I'll get to that in the next point.
They may also learn that there are some things that are more important than the Lord: namely, getting things. In the materialistic, money-grubbing, selfish age in which we live, I guarantee you your children will very willingly learn this lesson and hold it close to their hearts. They won't resist it. They won't learn this lesson unwillingly - it will very much line up with their flesh and will become an engrained pattern that they learn to love.
It will teach them that going to church is a burden. Why didn't you go to church? "Well, we didn't go because we want to have family time on the holiday." Was church an obstacle to family? Does church attendance hurt your family somehow? The lesson you're teaching your children is that yes, the church is an obstacle to family and a burden and if you had the choice you would (and will) choose to not go. Don't be surprised when they go off to college if they decide to just go ahead and set that "burden" aside altogether.
3. This is an opportunity for God to confront you with your idols.
The first commandment tells us that we should have no other gods before God. Coming to Church on the day that God has established gives us an opportunity to see our idols. Have we made an idol out of family? Have we made an idol out of comfort? Have we made an idol out of things? This coming Christmas Day (and every Sunday) is an opportunity, as you feel your flesh fighting within you, telling you not to come, to see what idols have taken root in your heart. Where is the pull coming from?
It may be the family. This seems very noble, and it preaches well. However, as Kevin DeYoung has said, the family is a good, but it is not God. Ultimately God's design for all of us is that we prioritize him. Worship Him. Love him above all else. As you think about coming to church on December 25th, if you resist the idea of coming, ask the Lord to show you why it is you don't want to come. Ask God to root out and dig out whatever it is that you're valuing in your heart above Him.
4. What a rare opportunity to celebrate two wonderful days at once!
The planets of our solar system align very rarely. However, in 2040 it is expected that Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon will all become aligned. It's 24 years away, and people are already getting excited about it.
Consider that December 25th is two wonderful days that have become aligned for Christians: It is Christmas Day - the day when we remember that Christ has come in the incarnation, born of a virgin, to live and die for the sins of his people. What a treasure in and of itself. Couple that with the fact it is also a day God has mandated for us to come together as a corporate body to hear his word proclaimed, to sing his word together, to pray his word together, and to be together with God's very own precious people, bought with his own blood. When you consider the confluence of forces and the double importance of this coming December 25th, how can you not get excited about gathering together with God's people for such a wonderful day?
It may be that you church that you regularly attend has, for some reason, cancelled service for the upcoming December 25th, 2016. We would love to warmly invite you to join us on that day at 11am at Pearl Presbyterian Church as we gather (as we do every Sunday) to lift up our voices to God, hear him speak to us in his Word, and build up and edify one another in the Lord. We hope you will join us and invite those you know and love.