This year Christmas is on Sunday.
Because Christmas is on Sunday, I see a number of churches trying to figure out how to deal with the conflict between their normal church services and people’s celebration of Christmas. Some ignore Christmas, and go on as usual. Most have services, but sing carols and have (another) sermon on Christmas, the Christmas spirit, etc.. And many are joining the movement to simply cancel Sunday services because of the conflict with Christmas.
I confess I don’t understand the “conflict”.
I have heard many speak of the fact that “Christmas is about family” in support of this movement. I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone more family focused than this minister with a wonderful wife of 42 years, 3 great kids, 3 great kids-in-law, and 11 fantastic grandchildren. I have a doctorate in family ministry–focusing on counseling, support and prevention of family problems. I have written and taught on family issues for over 35 years.
But I say this with as much emphasis as I possibly can. Christmas is NOT about family! Not mine, not yours, not anyone’s.
Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. That makes it about Him!
For some reason we have a hard time understanding this–or taking it literally and seriously. We don’t throw birthday parties without considering what is most important to the birthday boy, do we? We don’t give birthday parties where everyone EXCEPT the birthday boy gets presents. And we don’t say, “your birthday is really about me, or about my family, or about the spirit of ‘birthday’”! So why do we do this with Jesus’ birthday?
Christmas is about and for Jesus. Period.
So what does that look like? Well, to start with, it means NOT cancelling worship services–unless of course your services are about you, your families or your community in the first place. If they are about Jesus, why in the world would we not want to gather together and celebrate his birth? If they are truly WORSHIP services, why would we not gather together to worship him on this day of all days? I can find only two answers:
1) it really isn’t a worship service, and/or 2) we believe that our celebration of Jesus’ birth should be about us–or family–instead of Jesus.
So here’s an idea: If Christmas is really about Jesus’ birth, and we really believe in Him as our Lord and Savior, why don’t we celebrate his birth by throwing him a big birthday party on his birthday? Why not open our doors–and property–to the community and celebrate his birth with food, games, fun–and making sure that during that time we stop and tell everyone what Jesus’ birth actually means. Not the “spirit of Christmas” version, but the gospel. The fact that the baby in the manger came for one reason–to end up on the cross. Why not give Jesus the one present scripture seems to indicate he wants more than anything–the opportunity for someone to hear the gospel and be presented to him as another little brother adopted by the Father because of Jesus’ sacrifice?
We need to rethink the “conflict” between Christmas and Sunday services. There isn’t one. There is only a conflict between focusing on Jesus on his birthday, and doing whatever else we really wanted to do in the name of “Christmas”.