22 November, 2005

Whose Day Is It Anyway?

I was just making a post on my church blog about this and I felt like I needed to bring the topic to the Dawg Howse. Sunday night I had announced in church that I was going to send a letter out to everyone in the church with a survey of when they would like to have worship services for Christmas since Christmas happens to be on Sunday this year. I explained that from the past years of ministry, I know that very few will come on Christmas Sunday, and I was looking for a time to fit their needs or maybe I should say, desires.
I was working on that letter and survey yesteday when another minister in town called me and we began talking about this. I commented to him that it somehow really turns my stomach to think that we have to work at it so hard to find a time to squeeze in a few moments to worship the Lord on the day that we celebrate his birth.
He said, "I think we need to worship at the normal time Darrell, and if the people don't want to come, then that is their choice." I agreed with him, and that is what we will be doing. (My church needs to look at the Harvest Church blog)

I wanted to explore this futher here.
Why is it we cannot find time, on all days, CHRISTMAS, not to worship Christ?
I know many will be out of town. I am not talking about that.
But I have heard things like: "Well, my family will be visiting, so we can't make it."
Hello? What a wonderful opportunity to get your family to come to church with you!
You might just be surprised to find that they would come if you would only ask them.
And what a statement for Christ you make to them by going without them. You are telling your family, "The most important thing in my life is Jesus Christ, and I wish you would join me... but with or without you, I will serve the Lord."
On the negative, when you choose to stay home because they are there, you tell them, that "Worshipping the Lord is not really that important; I can take it or leave it."

What is Christmas about?
Is it about Santa Claus?
Is it all about making the little one's happy?
Is it about family time?
It is about the birth of our Savior. Without his birth, there could be no cross.
It is the single most important day on the calendar to the Christian.
I know he was not literally born on December 25. But this is the day set aside to celebrate his birth. To celebrate the birth of our freedom, our redemption... our hope.

We in Christian circles often pick on our Catholic brothers and sisters... but I promise you this; THEIR churches will be filled on Christmas morning! There will be time for family afterward.
But they will make time to worship first.
Perhaps we can learn something from them?

Long ago, while I was in prison, one of my friends invited me to Mass on Christmas day. I had never been to a Catholic Mass before... but hey, I was in prison... and I did not have much on my agenda for that day... so I went. It was such a moving experience, that I can still remember how it felt, almost 22 years later.
I was sitting there and the reality of the whole thing hit me upside the head.
This was what this whole thing is about! It was kind of like the Grinch when he has that moment of realization in the Dr. Suess classic.
Suddenly it hit me so hard that there I was in prison, but more free than I had ever been in my entire life, because the God of creation clothed himself in flesh and stepped from the portals of heaven to live and walk among us... all the while headed toward the cross!
This is Christmas!

That entire day, I could not stop crying. All my friends kept thinking I was crying because I missed my family. I kept telling them that I was fine, but they would not leave me alone. I tried to explain... they thought I was nuts.
And you know what? Many will think you are nuts too when you choose to go to the House of God on Christmas. Some will call you a religious fanatic. Some church folk will say you are bound by legalism. But you must decide this for yourself: "Whose day is it anyway?"


Henry Haney said...

Good for you Pastor- we're going to have service on Christmas day too (probably not a traditional service but perhaps a special time of communion/liturgy). At first I thought perhaps we should take a poll, or that I should consult and see what other pastors in the area were doing, but I eventually came to the same conclusion that you did- what better way to celebrate Christ's birth than to worship on the day we as a nation have designated to honor His birth.

Same thing for New Years- what a great way to worship God and start the new year off right!

I'm not trying to sound like some legalist because I understand some people won't be able to attend. I just wanted to give you some positive affirmation on your decision (not that you needed it).

God bless and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours Bishop Garrett
† Henry

Libby said...

I remember when I was a teen and Christmas was to fall on a Sunday. The same questions ensued. I was appalled (remember, i was a kid at the time)to think that we would consider not worshipping Christ on Christmas!

How much more important it is for us to take a stand now! Now that stores won't allow their employees to say, "Merry Christmas", that schools are not allowed to have nativity scenes and the time off is referred to as "Winter Break" instead of Christmas vacation. We complain that Christ is being taken out of Christmas by our government yet we want to close the church doors on one of the two most sacred days on the Christian calendar! How dare we give it to the world!!

Wake UP!!! This is an opportunity for us as Christians to take a stand for our Lord! And what if a sinner is looking for a church to attend on Christmas but there is a sign on the door that we are closed!?

That Christmas as a teen was one of the most memorable services I've ever attended. I felt so close to Christ and received a greater understanding of the wonderful gift God gave us.

I'm with you, Pastor, if we're the only ones there!

a said...

Hey Darrell, that is a very good point you brought up about Church on Christmas, I think everyone who is not goind to God's Home on His Birthday, should feel really bad about it, especially if they are Cristians.
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