Every so often, Christmas day is a Sunday. Apparently this is cause for commotion and crabbiness.
It sounds something like this, depending on what your local congregation decides to do with their worship gathering.
Wait…you’re not having Christmas Eve services?!?!?! (Like our church this year.)
Wait…you’re not having Christmas Day services?!?!?! (The decision of a very prominent church last time around, on account of the way it would tax their team.)
Wait…you really expect us to come to church on Christmas day?!?!?!
Wait…[insert variation of incredulous crabby faux-question here]?!?!?!
I get the values that cause the crabbiness. I’m a firm believer in having sustainable life rhythms. We need to not just plow through life at the same clip all the time. We need seasons of rest and of celebration. We need quality time with people we love who restore us.
I get it, and I agree. Except for the part where I don’t.
Please don’t hate me.
Perhaps I have a bias towards the ‘church side’ of this. Last time Christmas was on Sunday, I was on the children’s ministry staff in our church. This year I’m part of the music team as a volunteer. And my family is kind of in this spot where Christmas (or Christmas Eve) services are never just for us to attend one hour and go on home.
We have a tradition of going to In-n-Out on Christmas Eve, born from learning early on that it was the only place still open by the time we got done with services each year.
Even so, here’s how I see it. The church is a community, a family devoted to doing life together. We do life in rhythms of our own, like celebrating communion and baptism regularly, for example.
And most of all, as far as rhythms are concerned, we celebrate the resurrection by gathering to worship once a week. We gather to give God the glory he’s due and then we scatter to live out the kingdom in our day to day lives as best we can. That once a week is typically, though not always, Sunday.
The tradition of Sunday worship is all about the resurrection. And the path to the resurrection begins on Christmas with the incarnation. So why would we not come together like we always do to do one of the very things that we do? And on one of the best days to do it?
Here’s what I’m not saying. I’m not saying only Sunday worship celebrates the resurrection. A church can gather on any day to worship. Ane we do–Wednesdays and Saturdays and maybe if I looked across the globe I’d find every day represented. But I am saying that the Sunday tradition is on purpose, not just willy-nilly.
While I’m using fancy theology words, I’d like to comment a bit on the incarnation. (That’s is just the word for God becoming human.) Irenaeus, an ancient Christian rockstar, in my opinion, is attributed as saying, “That which Christ has not assumed, he has not redeemed.”
In other words, God has to really be human if he’s gonna save us. And Christmas is when we specifically pause to remember that God became a real, live, 100% flesh and bones human.
Being redeemed is the center of my whole life. All my joy, all my hope, everything hinges on redemption. So I want to spend part of Christmas in worship with the church family, a staying connected to the life-giving reality of Christ assuming all our humanity.