Friday, December 16, 2005

Christmas Controversy?

Should we have Christmas Day worship services? I would have to say that I am falling in the "no" category, feeling that God wants us to honor Christ with our families in Christmas Day.

Our church has been celebrating Advent and Christmas all month long and three very special Christmas Eve services planned specifically for the purpose of allowing our church body to gather together to honor and celebrate the incarnation of our Lord and Savior.

Personally, this will be the first Christmas Morning in 13 years that I will not spend with my family. Where is the point when "church" actually hinders the relationship of a Christ-honoring family? Check out these comments from the web that further express my opinion.

(For the source of these comment and a variety of responses on the controversy, go to Church Marketing Sucks. Be sure to chime in on the conversation here with your comments.)

When I was younger, our focus as disciples was to keep Him in the right place, enthroned in our hearts, and to live peaceably with others, to share His love and to demonstrate what an impact He makes in our own lives. That also helped us to remember that Christmas and much of the traditions that we have built up about this season are just that: traditions. And, as traditions go, they become entrenched in community practice and sometimes they get revised, transformed and even enriched by much newer practices. Whatever the practice, usually underlying principles linger. For Christmas, what undergirds it, is that it is a joyful time, a wonderful time of community, sharing, celebration, renewal, relationships and family. It is a time to be charitable, to give, to love and to remember. And, if people, communities and churches remember this, then I think they are celebrating the season, and we ought to give them grace to do so in the way they seek.
Christmas morning is the one day a year that should be reserved for the family! Yes, it is a holy day. Yes, it is the day that we celebrate the birth of our Savior. But there is something very sacred and Christ honoring about setting aside this day as a unique day in the life of a family- a day not filled with activity and stress, but a day to relax, enjoy the blessings of God and spend time with family!
I am on staff at a church about 150 people. We are not doing a service on Christmas Day but it appears that the reason we approached it was different. We looked at it from this angle: what as a church is our driving focus for Christmas this year. As a church we are promoting families and anything that we can do that develop the relationship we are doing. That is the reason we decided to not a Christmas morning service. It would be detrimental (sp?) to where the church is going.
My biggest complaint about the coverage of this is that many of the reports make it sound as if worship starts and ends at the church door. We are not having Christmas services this year but mainly because we never have a Christmas service. But like many evangelical churches we teach that worship of God is a constant and ongoing thing. Therefore we have been sending the message that although we will not be worshiping God as a community of believers on Christmas day that we will be worshiping Him throughout the day as we spend time with family and friends.
I wonder if Colossians 2 speaks to this issue at all... "So don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new-moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules were only shadows of the real thing, Christ himself." (Col 2:16-17 NLT)
Consider Mark 2:27 (NIV) "Then he [Jesus] said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'"
I really don't understand why everyone's getting bent out of shape about this now. It's not like we're not celebrating Christ's birth in church in all the preceding weeks or even on Christmas Day.
I agree that family should come before Church, and also that God should come before family (all of these are not exclusive - one or the other, mind you).
For somebody who worships only one day a week, it might seem that they are being robbed of that chance since the church doors are locked, or that the pastor has a "paid" day/week off. For those of us who worship 7 days a week, we recognize that all we really have is a change of venue.

Jesus preached in the temple as well as taught on the sea-shore, He ministered at funerals, and weddings, and fellowshipped with friends and family. He even worshiped alone in secret, and instructed us to do the same.

When we stand before the Judge at the end of time, we will not be asked if we had perfect attendance every Sunday, or observed His Birth and Death on their appropriate days; He will ask if we fed the hungry, clothed the naked, encouraged the desperate, and loved our neighbor.

For the source of these comment and a variety of responses on the controversy, go to Church Marketing Sucks. Be sure to chime in on the conversation here with your comments.