Let me plead with you: worship Jesus with the gathered body of Christ on Christmas day.
This year, as happens from time to time, Christmas falls on a Sunday. Regrettably, church attendance on Christmas day is much lower than normal.
Why is this the case? In the best case scenarios, the intertia of family gatherings and traditions simply outweigh the priority of corporate worship. We are busy and tired, so getting to church with x kids + cousins is just too much. In the worst case scenarios, we love and value our presents and our traditions more than Jesus.
I would like to offer a counter-cultural voice this year: make going to church on Christmas day a priority for your family. Here are four reasons to worship with the church on Christmas day:
- Attending church on Christmas keeps the focus on Jesus. The point of Christmas is to celebrate the eternal Word becoming flesh to save sinners. Worshipping with the church will help you and your family keep Christ the central focus of your Christmas celebration.
- Attending church on Christmas teaches our families that Jesus and his mission are more important than presents and food. It’s hard enough as it is to keep our children focused on Christ in the midst of all the gift giving. When we skip church on Christmas day we unintentionally imply that other things are more important than Jesus and his mission.
- Attending church on Christmas encourages the body of Christ, especially those without earthly family. It’s easy to forget, but the church family is the family that will last for eternity. Earthly families are a blessing and important in our lives, but some of us have had to say goodbye to parents or siblings in order to follow Christ. Others have lost love ones and for them the holidays are especially hard. We encourage those without families when we gather with them on a Christmas Sunday.
- Attending church on Christmas proves that we can say no to culture. Sometimes we just need to say no to cultural habits to remind ourselves that our agenda isn’t written by our society. From a cultural perspective, Santa overran Jesus many years ago. We can’t change that, but we can make sure it doens’t happen with the culture in our homes.
You might object: “We have a family tradition on Christmas morning. What does it say to my family to choose church over them?” Certainly travel plans and family schedules may mean that some can’t attend corporate worship on Christmas day. But many of us have a choice. I implore you to make the choice with God at the center of your priorities.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Our families are a blessing; Christmas is a unique time to share the gospel with many family members. Presents are a blessing; we give gifts because God has given us the gift of a Savior in Jesus and eternal life in him. Traditions are a blessing; they help us honor those who have gone before us. But Jesus must have the first place in our heart, and if we love him we will love his bride.
Charles Spurgeon reminds us that there is something special about the gathered body of Christ:
The saints in their corporate capacity are a holy temple unto the Lord.
While all believers are a temple of the Spirit, there is a sense in which the gathered body uniquely displays the glory of God. This line of thinking is confirmed by Peter in 1 Peter 2:5 when he refers to believers as “living stones, a spiritual house….” As you evaluate your plans for Christmas, consider this question: Are we holy to the Lord, or to ourselves?
I humbly ask you, especially husbands and fathers, to make this Christmas about Jesus the Christ, and bring your family to worship with the gathered church on December 25th.