Monday, December 5, 2016

Go to church on Christmas.

This year has been full of surprises. Our region of the country has experienced a severe drought for months. The presidential election did not turn out like many thought it would. Laws were put in place to make sure people knew which bathroom they needed to use. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908. A year of surprises is a good description for 2016. One surprise that some are finding out about as the month of December starts is that Christmas is on a Sunday this year. For some this is a surprise they didn't anticipate and frankly, they'd rather do without it. To others, they embrace the fact that the day we celebrate the Birth of Christ is on the day Christians set aside for worship each week. 

So far I haven't heard of any churches in our area that are canceling church altogether on Christmas. Many have an adjusted schedule of services but most every church in our area has plans for worship on Sunday, December 25. Since there will be churches having services on Christmas Day, I encourage you to go to church on Christmas. I know, "But Pastor, ___________." You can fill in the blank. There are plenty of reasons people can give for not going to church on Christmas Day (some of those reasons, I mean excuses, are used throughout the year). Consider setting aside the excuses and worshiping God on Christmas. Here are just a few reasons why you should attend church on Christmas Day.

It's Christmas Day!
If there is ever a day when people should gather in God's house to worship Him then Christmas Day should be at the top of everyone's list. We worship God because of the relationship we have with Him through Jesus Christ's death on the cross. Without Jesus' birth there would be no death. Without the crib there is no cross. Outside of Resurrection Sunday, the occasional Christmas Sunday should be a priority for Christians.

Order your Sunday around your faith, not around your culture.
For nearly 2,000 years Christians have set aside the first day of the week, Sunday, as their time to worship the risen Savior. Christians have been prioritizing their schedule, their very lives, around their faith and worship of God for two millennia now. Why should we now start prioritizing our faith around our culture's view of a holiday many celebrate for the wrong reason? They shouldn't. In a world that demands so much compromise from Christians to "fit in", worshiping God on Christmas is a small way to stay true to your faith.

If you aren't a Christian, attending church on Christmas Day will help you understand the real reason for Christmas.
Our culture has slowly changed the view of Christmas from being a day focused on the greatest Gift given by God, to a day focused on material gifts. What has been lost in translation is that Christmas is meant to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth started a 33 year progression through which Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life. Because of that perfect and sinless life, Jesus was able to die on a cross in our place, so we can have our sins forgiven. With our sins forgiven we receive eternal life and a right relationship with God. All of this is possible because of a tiny baby born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago (Luke 2). If you attend worship at a church on Christmas Day, chances are that the pastor will elaborate on this and help you make sense of any questions you might have on Jesus and Christmas.

I realize that for most people Christmas is a very hectic time of the year. There is rushing from this family event to another get together. Presents to put in the car and food to cook. Miles to travel and plenty of rushing around. But let me share one last piece of advice with you. If you go to worship on Christmas Day, the presents will still be there to be opened when worship is over. Lunch at Grandma's house will still be ready to eat. But more importantly, you will be able to slow down and focus for a little while on the God who gave us Christmas in the first place. And you never know, you might come away with a newfound appreciation for what you're celebrating on Christmas Day.

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