It happened in 2005, and it’s happening again this year. With Christmas falling on a Sunday, some — perhaps many — Protestant/Evangelical congregations are canceling their Sunday worship services.
Earlier this week, an opinion piece entitled “Skipping Christmas” on the Associated Baptist Press’ website addressed this trend. Brett Younger wrote:
The big issue is not that people will skip church on Sunday. The real problem is that churches are failing to tell the truth about Christmas. … On Sunday, Christians would do well to gather, sing, pray and listen to the story. We should celebrate by remembering the first Christmas and giving ourselves again to the one born in Bethlehem.
In general, I agree (although I take odds with the part about skipping Sunday worship not being a “big issue”; Christians ought to worship every Sunday). I chimed in with this comment:
I think the Catholic Church has the right emphasis on Christmas. It is a holy day of obligation regardless of what day of the week it falls on. Gathering together for worship is the primary emphasis of this holiday (holy-day), and the rest (family meals, exchanging gifts, etc.) is secondary. Perhaps all Christian congregations regardless of denomination should be encouraged to have a Christmas Day service every year, even if it isn’t on Sunday. Our culture won’t “put the Christ back in Christmas” if we believers don’t do it first.
When asked what my family and I will be doing for Christmas, I try to make a point to my friends, extended family and coworkers that we’ll be attending mass. I’m not obnoxious about it, but I try to gently convey that worship is the main purpose of the holiday. After all, it is “Christ’s Mass,” the day we celebrate the Nativity of the Lord.
So if you get in conversations today, encourage people to worship either at a Christmas Eve service or a Christmas Day service. That’s the real meaning of Christmas!