I keep saying that I’m not surprised by anything I hear that Christians have done nowadays — and then just about every week I hear of something that some Christian (or church) has done and I’m flabbergasted. Again.
Apparently, the fact that Christmas falls on Sunday this year has flummoxed a number of churches. One of which put out a video to explain to their congregation the reason why they had changed their normal practice this Sunday. The pastor says, the leadership team was stumped at first. You have to do “something on Christmas” he tells us. But they couldn’t figure out what. So, after a lot of discussion, they came up with the idea of doing . . . . next to nothing. They’re going to leave the church open so that their members can come by and have a time of quiet meditation. There might even be Bible reading and prayer and singing of some Christmas carols, he says, they’re not quite sure how it will all work — but this will, he says, make Christmas “special.”
Nowhere in the video does he indicate that, you know, we might just worship on this Sunday like we do every other Sunday! Worship apparently isn’t “special” enough.
Then I hear that a number of Christians are planning to stay home from worship this Sunday so that they can celebrate Christmas. Yeah. I hope that sounds a tad whacky to you! John Barach makes this point to show the stupidity of this:
Would you skip someone’s birthday party and refuse to come to his house or eat any of his birthday cake and then tell him that you did all of that in order to honor him on his birthday? No? Then why would anyone skip church on Sunday in order to celebrate Christ’s birth?
This is akin to those who say they’re not going to worship in order to “have family time.”
We need to ask the question, “Who is your family?”
Jesus actually had the opportunity to answer this question one day. Remember when He was in Capernaum teaching and healing, he was told that his mother and brothers wanted to speak to him. Jesus used this as an opportunity to give some important instruction (Matt. 12:48-50): “But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus points out that His first and most important family consists of all those who do the will of His father. They all are closer to Him than His own mother and brothers would be if they did not believe and obey. God’s family is our first and most important family. It turns out that the water of baptism is in fact thicker than blood.
Everyone supposedly wants all of us to remember “the reason for the season” but I don’t think a lot of them understand the Reason as well as they think they do. If we are celebrating Christmas because of Jesus’ incarnation then we are acknowledging that His coming and His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and reign are the most important things in the world. Nothing is more important that what God has done in and through His Son. And how has God told us chiefly to commemorate His Son’s coming, life, and work?
It’s NOT to be done by forsaking public worship of His Son so that you can spend time with your private family. My first family is not the Wilkins. My first family is not the Hilburns or the Pages or the Thompsons. My first and most important family is my baptismal family and our lives and schedules must reflect this by making worship a priority for the Wilkinses, and the Pages, and the Thompsons, and Hilburns and every other family. Public worship is “family time.”
Don’t make rules for your family that contradict the rules Jesus makes for us. Worship is the most important thing we do for our individual families. The best thing you can ever do for your children is to teach them that there is nothing, nothing, more important than worshiping God with His people on Sunday. If they learn this lesson, your family will be mightily blessed — and they will be blessed because they have learned that our individual families are secondary to the Family of God.
Don’t forsake the worship in some mistaken idea that doing so will help your family more than attending worship with God’s family. It’s just not so.
So, I’ll look forward to seeing you this Sunday.
And, may the Lord grant to you a most merry Christmas!