Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
As we roll into the full swing of the holiday season, planning for Christmas has begun. I am always a little burdened at the thought of the worship services that point to and flow out of Christmas. Our Waffles and Wassailage is our first "special" service. This is our multi-generational, family oriented hanging of the greens service. Then we have the Christmas Eve service. This year we will hold two services: a 6:00 and 8:00.
This year we will also have a Christmas morning service. That's right. A Monday worship service to celebrate Christmas.
Every time I have mentioned this to church folks, I get a, "You have finally flipped your rocker" look. But I have some very solid reasons for this decision.
1.) Christmas is a high, holy day of the Christian year. It is the commemoration of the birth of Jesus. This is the day we remember the Incarnation. That is, God coming and walking among us. That is the importance of Christmas. Not presents or family or meals or football. It is one of the Church's, and history's, most critical moments in time.
2.) Christmas Eve gets all of the attention. An Eve observance is the day leading UP TO something special. It is the preparation for something bigger. Christmas Eve is supposed to be the appetizer. But American Christians put all of the focus on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day takes a back seat. We focus on the Candlelight service and Communion. But it isn't supposed to be that way. Christmas Eve should focus our attention on the day to come.
3.) Christmas is a Christian holiday. Over the last couple of years there has been a tremendous outcry about the secularizing of Christmas. Schools cannot perform "Christmas" music. Stores are moving to "Happy Holidays". Nativity scenes and other Christ related imagery has been decried. And Christians have been getting their hackles up over it. Then last year, there was a loud cry of "Foul!" when some churches closed their doors on Christmas Sunday. Many were canceling to provide their support people time off to be with families. Many were saying how wrong it was to cancel a service just because it was Christmas.
But how many Christians are shouting out to their pastors, "Give us our Christmas Day worship?" Not many. Since Christmas has made it's move beyond Sunday, Christians are content to go back to their non-worship observance of their high, holy, holiday.
We are having a Christmas Day worship service because that is what Christians do on high, holy, holidays. When we have a holiday, we don't sit at home with our families. We gather with the family of God. Worship in the community of faith is the ONLY appropriate observance of a Christian holiday.
If you aren't interested in participating, I won't pretend to like it. I'll let you know now that I believe that there is NO BETTER place for a Christian to be on Christmas morning than in church with the brothers and sisters of Christ joined in praise and worship of the God who came and lived among us for our salvation. That is the meaning of Christmas!