Services Canceled Due To Christmas!
by Zeke Flores
Much is said this time of year about Christmas. Some scream about "putting the Christ back in Christmas," while others bemoan the fact that retail stores are "pushing Christmas out" by replacing the term "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" in their ads. Still others grumble about the increasing "secularization" of Christmas as they seek to remind us that "Jesus is the reason for the season!" Everywhere you look, there seems to be some complaint about Christmas and how it's to be celebrated and religious people are the ones who scream the loudest.
Then, in an enormous show of hypocrisy, churches across the land, both large and small, are canceling worship services on December 25, Christmas day, because the holiday falls on a Sunday. Their rationale is that there will be a very low turnout of worshipers because people will be too busy with the holiday's festivities so instead of making worship "inconvenient," they'll just cancel services altogether. As one man commented, "Let's not impose the church on people. Let's not make church in any way inconvenient." Another woman, a spokesperson for an 8,000 member church, said that they'll have multiple worship services on Saturday because "We believe that you worship every day of the week, not just on a weekend, and you don't have to be in a church building to worship." (Both comments from article in Houston Chronicle, page F4, Dec 10, 2005)
People who know their Bibles know that there is no authorization to celebrate Christmas as Jesus' birthday or for any religious reason for that matter. True Christians have been trying to educate the religious and non-religious masses about the truth pertaining to this holiday for centuries and have not made much of a dent. This does not mean for a moment that we should stop trying, but I'd like to think for a minute about the woman's comments above. It's true that we offer our very lives as a "worship" to God (Romans 12:1-2). Everything we say and do must reflect honor and obedience to Him "so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (I Peter 2:9). And it's also true that Christians do not need to be in a "church building" to worship as Christians themselves are the church, the very dwelling place of God (I Corinthians 3:9, 16). But, there are some things we do as Christians that can only be done on Sunday, regardless whether it's a holiday or a low turnout is expected.
We're enjoined to "stimulate one another to love and good deeds" and "encourage one another" and this can only be done by "not forsaking our assembling together, as is the habit of some" (Hebrews 10:24-25). While this stimulation and encouragement can occur during any time we assemble, the Lord has stipulated in His word that some things are given to us to do on a certain day, the first day of the week, and every first day of the week at that. We meet together on Sunday, every Sunday, for the purpose of remembering Jesus in the memorial supper that He Himself introduced and established. (Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20, I Corinthians 11:23-26) and this is exactly what the early church did (Acts 20:7). We meet together on Sunday, every Sunday, in order that each one may give "as he may prosper" so that the church's work of evangelism, edification, and benevolence to its own may continue. (I Corinthians 16:2). While we may pray, sing, and preach at any assembly on any day of the week, only these two elements of worship, the Lord's supper and giving, are restricted to the first day of the week, every first day of the week, and nothing relinquishes us from our obligation to these things; not a holiday and certainly not the expectation of a low numerical turnout!
For those members of the church Jesus built who will decide to stay home on this December 25 instead of gathering with the church to worship, that decision speaks volumes about their devotion to the Lord and their spiritual condition in general. But, for those who will come, in spite of the busy-ness of the day and the fact that there will probably be less brethren there to worship with, that decision, too, proclaims much about their devotion to the Lord and their spiritual condition.
Let nothing, certainly not a man-made holiday, keep us from exercising our obligation and privilege of worshiping the Lord every first day of the week, and every time we meet on the first day of the week! Let us show the Redeemer that our devotion to Him is not diminished in spite of what others may do.
Oh, and Happy Holidays!