Church on Christmas
The last time Christmas fell on Sunday (as it does this year), in 2011, I remember seeing a news story about a significant percentage of churches that weren’t holding services. That’s one reason I’m pleased that ours will meet on Dec. 25.
I know there are all kinds of reasons that some don’t meet on a holiday that is so sacred even Walmart closes (he said with sarcastic tongue in cheek). But it strikes me that in a day and time when churches in America are seeing fewer regular worshipers, to skip the day that we proclaim as so important is to invalidate our message.
One reason I believe that it’s particularly significant that we meet for all those Easter-and-Christmas attenders who may never otherwise hear the good news of the gospel during the year.
Sure, they may not be that serious about coming, treating attendance like a “feel good” ritual, but what does a locked door and a darkened sanctuary say to them? Something that would prompt a response like, “Well, if not’s that important to you, then why should I bother?”
The value of tradition came to mind recently when I was working on a story that involved interviewing some elderly people about their favorite Christmas memories.
The midnight Christmas Eve service at her church, one woman told me. “I love everything about it,” she said. “I sang in the choir for many years; I’m a Christmas music lover. Everything about the service touches my heart, from beginning to end.”
Maybe if our hearts aren’t being touched, then what we’re doing isn’t really that important—or at least, that’s what we’re saying to the watching world.
Sure, lots of people will skip Christmas services. The kids are running all over the house, Grandma and Grandpa are in from out of town, and it’s the one day of the year when everyone can all get together. All we can do is wish them well and worship with those who came.
Teaching About Christ
Churches that don’t meet on Christmas are selling short the value of memories, which as one ages become more precious. How is it that our children and grandchildren will equate Christmas with anything more than candy, Santa Claus, and how many presents are under the tree?
It doesn’t matter how many seats (or pews) are vacant, what kind of rearranging of our holiday plans must be done, or that we may not be able to sleep late like we want to after the frenzy of December. When churches don’t meet on Christmas, they are saying that it just isn’t that important. And in a world that desperately needs reasons for hope, that is a bad message to send.