Do I Have To Go To Church On Christmas Day?

Meme from the LCMS Facebook Social Media Page
Over the last several weeks I have heard a buzz in the air of people wondering what their church is going to do with Christmas Day since it will fall on a Sunday this year.  I hear comments like, 
"If we have a Christmas Eve service does that count towards our worship service for that week, voiding the need for a Sunday service?  Is it asking to much of people to attend two services back to back?  What about family time, won't church cut into the precious family moments? Can't we just cancel church on Sunday, it is Christmas after all!"  
While there is a lot to ponder above, I have two observations for us to consider.

The first observation comes from Pastor Paul McCain.  He states,
"If your congregation even 'considers' cancelling church on Sunday, December 25th, then you are giving up your right to whine about how Christmas has become too 'commercialized.'  As reports begin to appear regarding congregations cancelling services on Sunday, December 25th, leaving those congregations silent on a day that is set aside for the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord and which is also the day of the resurrection (Sunday), the complaints of collective Christianity regarding the secularization and commercialization of Christmas ring hollow.  You cannot in one breath announce that the Church will be empty on Sunday because it falls on Christmas and then complain in the next breath that Christmas has lost its focus upon Christ."
Secondly, we must keep in mind that the complaint about having to go to church "two times" over two days comes directly from the Old Adam (i.e., our sinful nature). Yes, our sinful nature would rather stay in bed!  Trust me on this one, even though I am a pastor, my sinful nature says, "Do I have to preach two times?"  In other words, the sinful nature typically sees church services as some sort of curse that ruins our weekend plans, which is especially true when we have those stockings from Santa to open and sleep to catch up on from staying up too late on Christmas Eve.  Indeed, the sinful nature turns God's gifts - church services - into curses. The very gift of rest which our heavenly Father desires to give to our souls is in fact, looked over and set aside as we focus instead on our own desires and comfort.  We would rather pull the covers up over our heads than go once again to hear about the Savior who has come to save us from our wretched estate. 

My dear friends, we must repent.  The Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Services are not curses but gifts.  The Divine Service - especially on Christmas Day - is not some sort of curse that is intended to ruin our Christmas cheer, but a great gift where we get to gather together to receive and celebrate the Advent of Jesus for us!  A Christmas Day Church Service is not an intrusion to our Christmas celebration, but rather it is at the very center of Christmas itself.  

What does all of this mean? On my Facebook account, a good friend stated the following, 
"I think church on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Morning sounds wonderful!  It's like Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but even closer.  We never cancel Easter because we had an extra service on Friday.  In fact, we make Easter morning a big deal, why not Christmas morning?"
The reality is that we have two gifts this Christmas.  Gifts - not curses.  Two services; twice the gifts!  It is like opening gifts on Christmas Eve 'and' on Christmas Morning! 

So this Christmas Eve and this Christmas Day, let us receive, celebrate, and relish that unto us a Child was born!  Let us hear the news on Christmas Eve 'and' Christmas Day about the Christ Child: a kingdom of forgiveness that comes to us with a King who comes to die for His people.

Merry Christmas!

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