I know that there are many churches that are not having public worship on Christmas Day. There are many reasons given as to why this is good. I’d like to provide seven counter-reasons why Christmas Day doesn’t diminish public worship, but rather promotes it.
1) God Commands His people to Public Worship – Whether we consider the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, or the more general command of Hebrews 10:25, God’s people are called to public worship. This means of grace is meant to encourage us, to challenge us, to utilize us in service to one another. Public worship is also an evangelistic appeal for unbelievers to marvel at the wisdom and power of God.
2) Christmas Isn’t Really About You – We teach this to our little ones, don’t we? Christmas is not about getting things, but about giving things. We’ve tried to teach this for generations lest we produce spoiled brats akin to Dudley Dursely, Veruca Salt, and that one family member you won’t name publicly. We know that this season is one of giving. If that’s the case, why would God’s people not be willing to give their time to Him?
3) Christmas is still the Lord’s Day –There is a sense where the holiness of Christmas this year stems from the fact that it is on the Lord’s Day. The day is set apart by God, not Amazon. As His people, we are covenantally bound to worship Him, as He sees fit when He sees fit. We couldn’t imagine Israel telling God on Mount Sinai, “I’d love to worship you, but Eleazar wants to play with Judah’s boy, and we just got him a new robe.” We have so diminished the honor due to God’s name that we fail to see the great offense against Him. We think He is lucky to have us, as opposed to the other way around. We give more honor to strangers than we do our King.
4) The Incarnation was Inconvenient – Jesus thoroughly inconvenienced Himself for our salvation. In theology, this called his estate of humiliation. We can often fail in gratitude when there is a misevaluation of our benefits. Christ gave up His very body and blood to save us from Satan, Sin, and the righteous wrath of God that is still to come. Yet we are too busy, or perhaps prioritizing anything else, other than Him. I’ve heard many reasons offered as to why people will be skipping church on the Lord’s Day – not one yet has appeared valid. Why wouldn’t we want to gather with God’s people to celebrate what God has done in His Son in the Incarnation? We do this every Lord’s Day – why wouldn’t we do this on the very day we celebrate that Christ was incarnated?
5) Public Worship Gives us Better Reasons to Celebrate – Though this article is bit more Scroogish than usual, I’m doing so to rouse you towards gratitude, and not merely from the heart. When we assemble for worship, we will be reminded together as the people of God that the Incarnation will always be our greatest gift. Yes, we do need the gifts of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but you can’t have either without the Incarnation. The same basis for skipping worship on Christmas Sunday, if applied consistently, would lead to the death of every church. When are you not busy? When are you not inconvenienced by waking up early on Sunday? When is your schedule not overwhelmed? We don’t worship because it is convenient. We worship because God has summoned us to do so. We worship because God is worthy of all our time, and all our talent, and all our treasure. We worship because it is what we were made to do.
6) Your Gifts Will Be Forgotten – Your son’s treasured PlayStation 5 will one day be outdated and broken. Your daughter’s new bike will rust or get lost. Your husband’s new shirt will not fit him forever (contrary to his claims to visit the gym). Your wife’s new book will eventually be read and forgotten. What am I pointing out? Nothing other than what the babe of Christmas said when He grew up: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 ESV)
7) Christ’s Gift in You Will Never Be Forgotten – Give Christ your very best this Christmas. Give Him your heart. Give Him your soul. Give Him your mind. Give Him your time. Give Him your family by bringing them to worship. Gift them by showing them what it looks like to love Christ in public worship. Gift your community with citizens who love Jesus and showcase that publicly in word and deed. May Christ bless your Christmas, and may its joy reverberate even beyond this Christmas morn.