I vaguely remember telling a strict legalistic Christian that when Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, we have our church service on Christmas Eve and cancel the Sunday service.  He said, “Pagan!”

Uncertain if he was serious or kidding, I replied: “You always told me how pagan the modern Christmas celebration is, with most traditions, including the date itself, stemming from Roman or Celtic paganism.  So perhaps you are the pagan for demanding its observance on December 25th?”

I was half-kidding and half-serious.

This year Christmas falls on a Sunday, and once again, we will have no service on Sunday, December 25.  Our service is on Christmas Eve.  Here’s why.

First, there is no record that Christians recognized, much less celebrated, the birth of Christ until almost 400 years after Jesus was here, and there is no command anywhere in the Bible to observe Jesus’ birth.

Second, there is no New Testament command regarding a particular day to worship.  Sunday worship arose, not from a command, but from the freedom born of Jesus’ teaching about the Pharisaic misuse of the Sabbath (i.e. Saturday) and a recognition of day of Jesus’ resurrection.  It was a matter of custom, not command.

Third, like it or not, American Christmas is a secular celebration.  This need not be seen as a dark evil.  Rather, the Christian spirit has, like yeast, worked its way into the everyday world to bring blessing and joy to lots of people.  Christmas is a time of giving and selflessness, a time to connect with family, a time for joy.  It is the universally-acknowledged season of economic blessing for many businesses – and therefore for many families.  Christmas is, even for unbelieving people, a day truly “set apart”: a holiday (or holy day).

Finally, Christmas is a magical morning for children.  Despite the annual protests from conservative Christians about Christmas’ pagan roots and its commercialism, I don’t know any who refuse to buy presents for their children.  Perhaps such humbugs exist.  If they do, I feel sorry for their children.

Some say canceling church on Christmas Day is a “bad testimony”.  A bad testimony to whom?  I’ve never heard of an unbeliever cursing Christ because we canceled church when Christmas fell on a Sunday.

American culture sees Christmas morning as a time to relax as a family in your pajamas and robe, sipping coffee and enjoying delighted children opening gifts and playing with new toys.  I have chosen to work with this custom, not against it.  That’s what missionaries are supposed to do.

One final note.  I know some of our families (usually with older children) choose to use Christmas morning as a time to serve meals in homeless shelters or street missions.  I think that’s also a wonderful way to make use of that time.

Enjoy your Sunday morning Christmas!  
Come worship Christ, the newborn King, with us on Christmas Eve!




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