To meet or not to meet, that is the question. A few of my pastor friends and church attenders have been kicking around this question amongst our group for the past few weeks. You might have guessed that the nature of the question stems from the fact that Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. This occurs every so often and as I spend more time in ministry the question comes up more often. When there is a “major holiday” and the majority of people will be traveling or not come, why meet for church? Over the past 10 years or so I have noticed how larger churches have adopted this thinking. If attendance is expected to be half, why not offer alternative methods of meeting? While this might be a fair, practical question, it is not a good theological way of thinking.
Lifeway Research reported in November that because of holiday travel, the Sundays closest to Christmas and New Year’s Day are some of the lowest attended of the season. https://research.lifeway.com/2022/11/29/pastors-say-christmas-eve-is-most-attended-holiday-service/
Having Christmas fall on a Sunday interferes with regular plans, but is skipping church on Christmas the best witness for a practicing Christian? Think about the First Church. Acts 20:7 tells us that they met on Sunday for worship. This was a new thing spiritually and culturally speaking. Before this they met on Saturday, Sunday it was back to work at their day job. Their schedule was not like ours; most did not get a two-day weekend. Sunday was the first day of the week, which meant they had to meet the demands of work and show up for worship. If they could meet with joy and increasing in community favor, as we are told, why can’t we accomplish the same?
Not only is regular church attendance edifying to the Christian soul, it marks a witness to the world. The fact that your car is not in your driveway on Sunday morning is a witness to your neighbor. They know that it is Sunday, they know why you are not at home; meeting is a priority to you. An empty driveway on Christmas day tells them that Christmas is about Jesus and not about the trees, lights, presents and toys. Those things are important, but there is a reason to the season. As Christians, the Bible calls us to be set apart from the pattern of this World. The worldly system encourages us to value consumerism on Christmas Sunday, but your absence for a few hours could be a greater witness to your neighbor than that fruitcake you might exchange!
Please don’t misunderstand the message, going to church on Christmas does not mean you are saved, just as not attending does not mean you are not! Giving your life to Christ by trusting in His death, burial and resurrection for your sins determines one’s salvation. My point is this; attending church on Christmas Sunday, in the middle of all the activities of the season, reflects your priorities. If we don’t meet it sends a message to the World that Christmas is just another secular holiday. It also signals to our church family that the birth of Christ is more about those under our roof than those in our Spiritual family. Our actions speak louder than our words. The people of this world know why Sunday should be important to us as Christians. To not meet on this day, that the world knows as “Christ-mas,” would be a missed opportunity to put our faith into action. Why not include an invitation to join you on Christmas morning in the Christmas cards you send out this year
And let us continue to consider how to motivate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another even more as you see the day of the Lord coming nearer. Hebrews 10:24-25
Serving the Savior,
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