Just so you won’t think I’m a pastor that is out of touch, I’m going to make a very candid admission. Here it is: it is a pain that Christmas falls on Sunday this year.
There. I said it.
Most of the time, Christmas falls on one of the other six days of the week, and that makes it easier. When it falls on Sunday, it messes up all the traditions we create the rest of the time: opening presents with kids, traveling to loved-one’s homes, Christmas breakfast, Christmas brunch, preparing Christmas dinner and Christmas lunch.
It’s complicated. I get it.
Even though it is complicated, here at the beginning of the Christmas season, I want to plead with my brothers and sisters to make room for church on Christmas Sunday while there’s still flexibility in your planning.
Here are six quick reasons.
First, it’s Christmas! This is one of the absolute biggees in the Christian calendar. It’s the celebration of the birth of the only Savior the world has ever known. We are always reminding people that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” which makes it supremely odd that any Christian would use Christmas as a reason to miss church. Christmas is an argument to attend church, not skip it.
At the Lambert house, we do not skip church. Ever. Our commitment to always being at church is not because I am a pastor but because we are Christians. Because we’re Christians, we make time for church when we’re busy, when we’re tired, when we’re on vacation, and when our kids are playing sports. We don’t miss church. We for sure would not miss it on a Sunday when we have the opportunity to celebrate the incarnation of God.
At Christmastime, we’re always looking for special things to do to celebrate the season. Well, attendance at church is one of those very special things we can do. I just checked my calendar, and in the next thirty years, Christmas will fall on Sunday just four times. That makes it unique. This means, on the one hand, that even if you do think it’s a pain to come to Church on Christmas Sunday, you won’t have to worry about it for 26 out of the next 30 Christmas days. That means you have four opportunities in the next generation to actually celebrate Christmas at church on Sunday. That makes it special. You don’t want to miss it.
At First Baptist Church, we started planning our worship service for Christmas of 2022 in the summer of 2021. We did that because we wanted to be sure that our folks who come on Sunday participate in a really special treat. We are not doing this because we don’t have other things to do. We are doing it because we love Jesus, we love our people, and we want to make sure it is a special day for everyone.
Even if you don’t go to First Baptist, you go to a place that wants to make it special for you as well. You go to a church where pastors, musicians, volunteers, and members all have stepped away from private time with their families to serve you. You should come to church on Sunday as an expression of love and appreciation for their investment in you.
You need to serve Jesus and your Church on Sunday, and you can do that even if you don’t have a leadership role in the Christmas celebration. One of the reasons we feel the frustration of Church on Christmas Sunday is the interruption it is in our family time. But have you considered that many are sad on Christmas precisely because the only family they have is you? These are the lonely singles, the widows and widowers, the young adults who live away from their parents, the isolated folks going through hard times at the holidays. After church, when you rush off to fix dinner for 30 people, they may straggle home to sit alone the rest of the day. What if you were the one smiling face they saw? What if yours was the only encouragement they received on the day we celebrate Jesus’s birth?
All of us have people in our families who don’t know Christ. All of us are praying and looking for ways to introduce them to him. Well, this is an opportunity served up on a silver platter. Some of you have relationships with your family where you can just say, “Guys, it’s Christmas, and I want you to come to church with me. We’ll have an awesome meal when it’s over, but just make plans to come with us to church.” Others have relationships where you need to ask more gently, “Hey, we really love you guys and want to celebrate Christmas with you at our church. Would you please consider coming with us before we celebrate at home?” Regardless of your relationships, all of you know people who will come with you if you ask. So, ask them.
Your family needs this.
And, you know what? You do too.
Christian, you need to come to church on Christmas.