What an interesting question. Many pastors across the world have led their congregations to cancel church assembly this Sunday because it is Christmas Day! I am certain there are many reasons that have led them to do such.
Perhaps it was because December is such a demanding busy month for everyone including the church family. Tradition’s like Christmas morning gatherings to open presents, special breakfasts and large family dinners. Many traveling during the morning to families near and far. And the Christmas Eve services which take time and those who attend may not attend Christmas morning. In colder climates like Northern Indiana you have weather conditions to consider. Low temperatures, the threat of snow and road conditions. Getting volunteers for worship team, sound system, greeters, ushers, teachers, nursery workers etc. will be a real challenge. And you don’t want to send a signal that you are legalistic after all it would not be the unforgivable sin. Concerns about peoples already over taxed schedules need to be considered.
These and many other reasons put pressure on people and many decisions are made because of such. And this year Christmas falls on Sunday bringing one more thing to put into my already busy “Christmas List” of things to do. Someone once said “ Duties Never Conflict” but that sure seems to be not the case especially at this time of year.
As pastor of Liberty Baptist Church let me say that I understand the pressures of the season. After all I am a father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin and friend as well as a pastor. Let me express why I chose to have church on Christmas Day. Yes we chose to take the week off from Sunday School. Make things closer to an hour than an hour and a half. Not have evening service. But not close church up for the whole day!
Here Are Some Reasons
1. IT IS SUNDAY - THE LORD’S DAY!
December 25 this year is on a Sunday. It is Sunday before it is Christmas. The holy scriptures teach strongly and clearly that christians should assemble the first day of the week. Christians for 2000 years have gathered together on this day to sing, pray, preach the Bible, receive the Lord’s Table. It is the day of the week given by God to rest and worship in a special day. It is the FIRST day of the week to remember in a special and significant way the LORD JESUS CHRIST and his birth, life, death and resurrection. It is to be a day about HIM. Why would we cancel church on a SUNDAY because it is an EXTRA SPECIAL SUNDAY?
2. COMMITTED BELIEVERS WILL WANT TO ASSEMBLE!
Whatever the attendance may be that is not the issue. The doors need to be open for Christ and for those believers who desire to assemble in allegiant and obedient faith to the call of God and His Word. Many see the benefit of meeting together with other Christians who with their families are in one place for one cause - JESUS GLORIFIED. The Church Family together on CHRISTMAS SUNDAY! Assembling together with others who love Jesus and desire to meet in church on CHRISTmas Sunday may be more meaningful than a do- it- yourself service at home!
2. GUESTS WILL SURELY ATTEND!
Family members from out of town, those from the area, neighbors, co- workers , neighbors, several time a year attenders, Non- believers, and others whose churches decided not to assemble may attend. Some out of habit and others in the habit of church attendance. Some may just show up because the doors are open. Perhaps lonely people who just want to be with others on Christmas. Will anyone be be here when they show up?
3. SOME MAY FIND CHRIST AND HOPE FOR LIFE!
This Sunday may be the last Sunday of the church age. And if the doors are open perhaps our Lord will draw several to their salvation Christmas Sunday! Others who have all types of needs may find their need met through Christ, His Word, and the loving ministry of one of His children who are in attendance looking to help someone find the healing love of the ONE who came that FIRST CHRISTMAS DAY!
4. FAMILY IS A PRIORITY BUT JESUS IS FIRST PRIORITY.
I love my wife, children, grandchildren, and extended family members. When my parents were alive I loved them deeply and loved spending special days with them. The Bishir home this Christmas will be more than exciting( 11 grandchildren). We are looking forward to the festivities of the day. It will be hectic for our children to get everyone to church for that hour service and it will mean an interruption and delay to some important plans . But I want our family to know that we rearrange our schedule for corporate worship of JESUS ; and we don’t expect corporate worship to be rearranged for us.
5. IT IS CHRISTMAS AFTER ALL !
For Christians it is the day set aside to celebrate the incarnation, the birth of the Messiah. Emanuel, God with us, God for us! The Prince of Peace has come. The Mighty God. What an opportunity to celebrate. What an opportunity to proclaim our convictions that CHRISTMAS is about the mighty CHRIST?
This is a question I am often asked during the Christmas season. I read Dr. John MacArthur's short article today and want to share it with all those who read the BishirBlog. Hope it helps to answer someones questions and if someone asks you the question it will help you to answer them with a short, concise and biblical answer!
Scripture doesn't specifically command believers to celebrate Christmas--there are no prescribed "Holy Days" the church must observe. In fact, Christmas was not observed as a holiday until well after the biblical era. It wasn't until the mid-fifth century that Christmas received any official recognition.
We believe celebrating Christmas is not a question of right or wrong since Romans 14:5-6 provides us with the liberty to decide whether or not to observe special days:
One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks (Rom. 14: 5-6).
According to these verses, a Christian can rightfully set aside any day--including Christmas--as a day for the Lord. We believe Christmas affords believers with a great opportunity to exalt Jesus Christ.
First, the Christmas season reminds us of the great truths of the Incarnation. Remembering important truths about Christ and the gospel is a prevalent New Testament theme (1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Peter 1:12-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:5). Truth needs repetition because we so easily forget it. So we should celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Christ and to marvel over the mystery of the Incarnation.
Christmas can also be a time for reverent worship. The shepherds glorified and praised God for the birth of Jesus the Messiah. They rejoiced when the angels proclaimed that in Bethlehem was born a Savior, Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). The babe laid in the manger that day is our Savior, the "Lord of lords and King of kings" (Matthew 1:21; Revelation 17:14).
Finally, people tend to be more open to the gospel during the Christmas holidays. We should take advantage of that openness to witness to them of the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ. Christmas is chiefly about the promised Messiah who came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The holiday provides us with a wonderful opportunity to share this truth.
Although our society has muddied the message of Christmas through consumerism, myths and empty traditions, we should not let these distract us from appreciating the real meaning of Christmas. Let us take advantage of this opportunity to remember Him, worship Him and faithfully witness of Him.
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.