Sunday, December 11, 2011

Church on Christmas?

This year, Christmas falls on a Sunday, which means it's time once again for the debate about what to do with church services. Some churches will meet on Sunday as scheduled or on a modified schedule, and some others will shift everything to Saturday.

What do I think? Of course churches should meet on Christmas Sunday. Why in the world wouldn't we? Because it's a holiday - a holy day? Yes, why would we want to gather together as the body of Christ to worship God on a holy day? That would be silly.

Just so I'm clear - I don't just disagree with the opposing position. I don't even understand why it's a question in the first place. I cannot think of one solitary reason why we should move services when Christmas falls on a Sunday. In fact, in years where Christmas falls on some other day, I would love to have an extra service on Christmas morning (granted, many churches will have Christmas Eve services instead, which is nice).

So here's my request - if you have a reason why we shouldn't meet on Sunday, let me know. Particularly if you favor moving from Sunday, I would love to hear the reasoning. And then we can take those reasons and ask whether we should meet on Easter.

I do not understand. I do not comprehend. Please help. Thanks.


ashley said...

Hey Nathan,

Thanks for the post, I totally agree. I would love to have a Christmas Service every year on Christmas.

I also must say you have an adorable family and your two daughters are lucky to have a dad like you.

Ashley Krueger

Robert said...

I totally agree with you. Our church is having service on Christmas Eve and Christmas, too. How else should we celebrate God coing to the earth and humbling Himself by becoming man and experiencing life just as we do (but without sin).

I am amazed at how Jesus suffered through everything that I deserve, including temptation (whish I can't comprehend how badly He was tempted because he never succumbed to temptation), just so that He could save lost sinners. I am so grateful for the work He has done for me and in me.

And I am grateful for you writing to remind us about what is important. Thanks.

frugalmegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mitch said...

I actually am in the "maybe not" camp, but I think its situation dependent. For example:
I attend a small church that does "modern" music, ie, with a band. Since its a small church the same people do everything for most services. Prep time for worship with a band also takes longer than say with a piano/organ and single worship leader.
In the time I have attended this church, we have never had a Christmas Eve service. This year, they decided they want to do one. I was asked to lead worship for both the Christmas Eve service and the Christmas Morning service. I said no, I will do one or the other. I also said that in our situation I think its fine to say no to one service in favor of the other.

My point is that most church services happen because individuals volunteer their own time. If you simply answer the question by saying "of course I want to worship on Christmas, who wouldn't?" you are forgetting that there is more that goes into that decision than just the question of if you want to gather into corporate worship.

DJP said...

Totally agree with you, Nathan.

When I was a brand-new believer, the church I attended used to have a breakfast together on Christmas morning. Those meant so much to me, since my blood-family were not practicing Christian faith at the time. I felt a connection with my church family that I did not feel with my blood-family (much as I loved them), and it was encouraging to gather with them.

A friend's church cancelled its Christmas service. He wrote me to get some help in not having a bad, resentful attitude.

I did what I could.

Doug Hibbard said...

We're having the Christmas Eve service, but since we are a rural church that is mainly composed of a group of families, we're not doing Sunday School on Christmas Day. We are having our Sunday Morning service, and I assure you the whole Gospel (well, as best I can) will be preached. It won't be a fluffy 'isn't the Baby Jesus cute?' sermon.

The reason for dropping Sunday School is twofold: families that are gathered have proven less likely to come to Sunday School than church, and often skip both, but they will come to church. So, it makes the visit process better.

Also, most of my Sunday School teachers are going to frantic all week. Since they are not going to be into their preparation, I told them I'd rather they take the day off than not be focused.

Chris H said...

My church has approximately 50 people on a regular Sunday. There are many of those for whom their family traditions are so primary that they would never consider breaking them; one of our large families has never attended a Christmas Eve service for this reason. Thus, our service attendance would be in the "tiny" range.

Is this a good reason? I don't know. I'd probably go to a service, but because my dad's the pastor, I wouldn't really worry about missing the "family christmas" traditions...

Strong Tower said...

So here's my request - if you have a reason why we should meet on Sunday, let me know.

mike said...

does the fact that we might be inconvenienced or overworked in a busy holiday season give us a good enough reason not to meet?
do we have liberty in Christ on this?
but why is it that we find ourselves checking to see if we can fit a gathering of believers on Christmas morning into the rest of our schedules?
could our priorities be in need of "world tilting"?
have we been so free to gather where we wish, and worship who and how we wish for so long that we no longer see it as the privilege that it is?
Lord, please help us so that we do not have to lose this freedom also before we see the value of it.

if i had one thing i could "do over" it would have been to show my sons the correct value of attending our local fellowship when they were young.

trogdor said...

Strong Tower:

Interesting challenge. I thought of several different angles you could be coming from.

1) You're a seventh-day adventist or something. In which case, well, there's your problem.

2) You're objecting to Christians observing holidays at all, or this one in particular due to the dreaded Saturnalia boogeyman. Or something. To be honest, I'd have no idea where you'd expect that chain of reasoning to go.

Anyway, if that's the case, feel free to disregard the 'holiday' aspect, and what are you left with? It's just Sunday. So the church should meet, and you should be a part of it, just like every Sunday.

3) You're slyly feigning ignorance of the basics of burden of proof, acting as though the burden falls on those who think the church should meet on Sunday like every week, rather than on those proposing the fairly radical idea of canceling church for a week. Well played, sir, you almost had me believing this one for a moment.

So the short answer is: we should meet on Sunday because it's Sunday.

trogdor said...

Or the longer version. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and formed the world and all it contains. Last of all, God made man in His image to have dominion over the earth, filling it and leading everyone everywhere into worship of our Creator. But man desired autonomy, rebelled against God, and died.

But God, being rich in mercy, promised a Savior, the seed of woman who would crush Satan under his heel. For thousands of years God sent word through his prophets that Messiah was coming to make all things new, to save God's people from their sin. Foretold by prophets and foreshadowed by the temple and its sacrifices, he would make ultimate atonement for the sins of his people and crush his enemies.

Then, in the fullness of time, Messiah came as the baby Jesus, born to the virgin Mary in Bethlehem, his birth heralded by a multitude of angels proclaiming "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests!" Jesus, the Son of God, the fullness of deity dwelling bodily, the Word made flesh and walking among us.

This Jesus grew up, lived a perfect life and completely fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law. Without sin, he was executed as though a criminal. In his death Jesus bore the sins of his people, so that in him they might become the righteousness of God.

He was dead and buried, but it was impossible that death could contain him, and on the third day - Sunday - he rose again! Raised to indestructible life, he ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of God. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven of our sin through his death, justified through his resurrection, and seated with him in the heavenlies forever and ever.

And now we are joined together with all those who are in Christ. We form the church, the body of Christ, consisting of people from every tribe and tongue and language and nation. We are closer to each other than to even our natural-born families, for Jesus Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers. And we wait eagerly for Christ's promised return, when he will crush Satan under his feet, and take us to be with him forever in the new heavens and new earth. In that day, the glorious promise will be fulfilled:

"Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

And so the church meets all around the world to worship God and our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to proclaim God's word, to offer prayers and supplications, to fellowship with one another, to build each other for acts of ministry, to proclaim this glorious gospel to the lost among us, to encourage one another (all the more as we see the day approaching), and to partake of the Lord's Supper wherein we proclaim his death and resurrection until he returns.

And we do it on Sunday, the Lord's Day, in honor of his resurrection.

Is that reason enough for you?

Susan said... mean to say that there are churches that would cancel services because of Christmas!?

(Sorry for saying this, but where are their priorities? And just what is Christmas to them, anyway??)

Ian said...

I wrote a poem about this: enjoy