Christmas on Sunday

December 23, 2011   12:43 pm

A picture of a manger filled with straw, with the caption "KING SIZE BED"

Christmas 2011 happens to fall on a Sunday. This has led to a number of churches moving their services to Saturday in lieu of Sunday, and a number of other churches loudly proclaiming that, of all days, worshiping Christ is something that should and will happen on schedule. One would think that this would be the end of it; however, some (not all) people on both sides seem to be invoking the “more spiritual” argument in defense of their schedules. This bothers me, and I believe both sides are causing harm with this argument, turning the focus from Christ (the reason for the season) to man’s actions.

Let’s take the rearrangers. The primary motivation I’ve heard for churches modifying their usual schedule is so that families can maintain their Christmas morning traditions. Having a church service requires “work” for more than just the Pastor; for a 10am service, people may need to be there as early as 8am to prepare the facilities, and may require people as as late as 12:30pm to close everything up once the hour-long service is over. Adjusting the schedule frees all these people from these obligations. God’s presence is not limited to the walls of a church building, and as the second-biggest celebration on the church calendar, moving a service is not contrary to Scripture. The meeting is still happening, so these people are not violating Hebrews 10:25, which says:

…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)

On the other side, we have the people who feel, of all days of the year, the celebration of the birth of the One we worship is the last day they would consider not meeting. They see it as an opportunity - Christmas only falls on Sunday once every 6 years (depending on how leap years fall), and this year is one of those lucky years. Worshiping on the Lord’s Day and Christmas at the same time? Awesome! They see the worship of God as preeminent, not subject to rearranging at the whim of man’s schedules.

Neither of these positions violates any Scripture I can find. And, let me be clear, I believe that “right with God” Christians can hold either of these views. It is not the views, it is the “holier than thou” arguments I’m hearing made in defense of these views. The thing is, we as mere humans cannot possibly know enough to make value judgments about either of these views. Motivation and heart are the key items here. Jesus made it clear that good works from a wrong heart are worthless.

On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Matthew 7:22-23 (ESV)

If those who are rearranging are doing it out of selfishness, they are wrong. If those who are keeping their schedule are doing it out of moral superiority, they are wrong. Those who are looking down on either of these groups is also wrong. The focus should be Christ, not man’s performance.

This weekend, worship Christ, the newborn King. Do it Saturday, do it Sunday, maybe even do it both days (that’s our family’s plan). Focus on Him, not on others. Then, after this weekend, continue. Worshiping Christ should be a daily occurrence in our lives.

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