Keep the “mass” in Christmas

Last time Christmas fell on Sunday it came out that a number of churches had decided to cancel services, which provoked some controversy.  I haven’t heard of churches doing that this year, whether because they have all come to their senses or because it has become no big deal.  (Does anyone know of churches that have cancelled Sunday services?)

The reason given was that if people don’t have to go to church they can spend more time with their families, and Christmas, after all, is a family holiday.  Do realize that this way of thinking secularizes Christmas just as much as crass commercialism.   Christmas is about Christ.  Specifically, it is about worshiping Christ and receiving Him sacramentally–hence the “mass” in “Christ+mass.”

So I urge you to go to church on Christmas.  Traditionally, this was the day that even casual Christians–a.k.a. “Christmas and Easter Christians”–would go to church, some of whom could be reached.  So more serious Christians certainly should go, if at all possible, whether Christmas falls on a Sunday or not.  Christmas Eve services count, since holy days technically begin after sunset of the day before, but I also urge you to receive Holy Communion if you can, the sacrament being traditionally offered on that day even in traditions that don’t celebrate it often.

The whole point, however you conceive this happening, is to not only celebrate the gift of Christ, but to receive the gift of Christ.   You don’t just celebrate the fact that people gave you presents.  You open them.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    We’ll be doing both the 11 pm Christmas Eve service and the Christmas Day (the youngest is acolyting). We’ll have the Eucharist at both.

  • SKPeterson

    We’ll be doing both the 11 pm Christmas Eve service and the Christmas Day (the youngest is acolyting). We’ll have the Eucharist at both.

  • Rev. Jon Bakker

    There are several local (non-Lutheran) congregations that are cancelling services this Sunday. I think, unfortunately, that it has become ‘no big deal,’ sadly.

  • Rev. Jon Bakker

    There are several local (non-Lutheran) congregations that are cancelling services this Sunday. I think, unfortunately, that it has become ‘no big deal,’ sadly.

  • http://www.aclutteredmind.org Kevin Sorensen

    Once again, as in the days of yore (2005) Saddleback is canceling services in lieu of families going out visiting, doing hospital visitation and spending time with family. Funny, you’d think they could do that on any day or even following the service (let’s see, um, Pastor Rick, that could be part of the application of your Christmas message on incarnational ministry–oh wait, there won’t be a message on Christmas; never mind)

  • http://www.aclutteredmind.org Kevin Sorensen

    Once again, as in the days of yore (2005) Saddleback is canceling services in lieu of families going out visiting, doing hospital visitation and spending time with family. Funny, you’d think they could do that on any day or even following the service (let’s see, um, Pastor Rick, that could be part of the application of your Christmas message on incarnational ministry–oh wait, there won’t be a message on Christmas; never mind)

  • Dennis Peskey

    I formerly referred to the Christmas/Easter Christians as twofers; after being corrected by a fellow Lutheran who instructed me on the best possible construction in accord with the Eighth Commandment, I now refer to them as the “etcetera” Christians (ETC) – Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Forgive me.

    As for me and my family, we spend the holy-days with our Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit along with the family members who have passed through this veil of tears to the communion of Saints. So, for those who truly desire to be with their entire family, we go to His house for the holy-days. If Jesus was willing to leave his heavenly home for a stable birth and now bids me come and see, the Lord is good, I’m glad when they said let us go unto the house of the Lord, whether by sleigh, horse or my dependable Chevy truck. He’s there waiting for me and you and his gifts last much longer than an earthly lifetime. Merry Christmas to all and goodwill to those with whom He is pleased.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    I formerly referred to the Christmas/Easter Christians as twofers; after being corrected by a fellow Lutheran who instructed me on the best possible construction in accord with the Eighth Commandment, I now refer to them as the “etcetera” Christians (ETC) – Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Forgive me.

    As for me and my family, we spend the holy-days with our Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit along with the family members who have passed through this veil of tears to the communion of Saints. So, for those who truly desire to be with their entire family, we go to His house for the holy-days. If Jesus was willing to leave his heavenly home for a stable birth and now bids me come and see, the Lord is good, I’m glad when they said let us go unto the house of the Lord, whether by sleigh, horse or my dependable Chevy truck. He’s there waiting for me and you and his gifts last much longer than an earthly lifetime. Merry Christmas to all and goodwill to those with whom He is pleased.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Tom Hering

    All of the churches in my area (Stevens Point / Plover, WI) will hold services this Sunday, except for the UCC church, one of the AOG churches, and one of the ELCA churches. So, one Pentecostal and two theologically liberal congregations. I’d guess the common denominator that makes cancellation acceptable would be a general rejection of tradition?

  • Tom Hering

    All of the churches in my area (Stevens Point / Plover, WI) will hold services this Sunday, except for the UCC church, one of the AOG churches, and one of the ELCA churches. So, one Pentecostal and two theologically liberal congregations. I’d guess the common denominator that makes cancellation acceptable would be a general rejection of tradition?

  • Good News

    Maybe “serious” Christians should be taking the Incarnation story to their families and sharing that Good News with them. Maybe we should remember that Christ left his heavenly throne to became a baby laid in a manger. Maybe we should not care about the traditions so long as Christ is not forgotten in our “masses”. Tradition is good but the Good News being shared with family is better.

  • Good News

    Maybe “serious” Christians should be taking the Incarnation story to their families and sharing that Good News with them. Maybe we should remember that Christ left his heavenly throne to became a baby laid in a manger. Maybe we should not care about the traditions so long as Christ is not forgotten in our “masses”. Tradition is good but the Good News being shared with family is better.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Your scenario, Dr Vieth, used to be true. Now the big service for nominal church goers is Christmas eve, because it doesn’t interfere with the joyous celebration of consumerism.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Your scenario, Dr Vieth, used to be true. Now the big service for nominal church goers is Christmas eve, because it doesn’t interfere with the joyous celebration of consumerism.

  • Tom Hering

    Good News @ 6, aren’t Christians the family of God first – gathering where Jesus said He would be present with them in a miraculous way – and biological families second? “You shall leave father and brother, mother and sister, and get your butt out the door on Christmas.” :-D

    Doc @ 7, all that consumerism helped people to keep their jobs this Christmas, and beyond. Don’t be such a Scrooge. :-D As for Christmas Eve, it was always the main time of celebration in my Polish immigrant family when I was growing up – a tradition from the Old Country. After sundown, as Dr. Veith pointed out, is Holy Eve, i.e., the start of the next day’s Holy Day, which ends at sundown. That’s how the 24 hours are counted.

  • Tom Hering

    Good News @ 6, aren’t Christians the family of God first – gathering where Jesus said He would be present with them in a miraculous way – and biological families second? “You shall leave father and brother, mother and sister, and get your butt out the door on Christmas.” :-D

    Doc @ 7, all that consumerism helped people to keep their jobs this Christmas, and beyond. Don’t be such a Scrooge. :-D As for Christmas Eve, it was always the main time of celebration in my Polish immigrant family when I was growing up – a tradition from the Old Country. After sundown, as Dr. Veith pointed out, is Holy Eve, i.e., the start of the next day’s Holy Day, which ends at sundown. That’s how the 24 hours are counted.

  • Jon

    We Catholics are at Mass every day…

    Merry Christmas to all.

  • Jon

    We Catholics are at Mass every day…

    Merry Christmas to all.

  • rlewer

    #6
    What better place to gather as a family but before the throne of God who became flesh for us with the rest of God’s eternal family? What are we really teaching our children about what is important?

    What better time to celebrate the Word becoming flesh for us than celebrating the Lord’s Supper as the Word who became flesh for us still comes to us in the flesh? God giving Himself for you! The Divine Service! The perfect gathering place for the family!

  • rlewer

    #6
    What better place to gather as a family but before the throne of God who became flesh for us with the rest of God’s eternal family? What are we really teaching our children about what is important?

    What better time to celebrate the Word becoming flesh for us than celebrating the Lord’s Supper as the Word who became flesh for us still comes to us in the flesh? God giving Himself for you! The Divine Service! The perfect gathering place for the family!

  • Good News

    #8 Tom Hering,
    Didn’t Jesus make a promise that He would never leave us nor forsake us? Didn’t he give his Holy Spirit to indwell us and comfort us? I understand your point but also think the Scripture usage there is out of context…but we do not need to give an excuse for laziness either :)

    #10 rlewer,
    Good points. I think that there is much good in gathering as the family of believers and using it as an opportunity to show our children what’s important. But are we simply teaching our children that church attendance is more important than the Good News? Are we teaching them that the Good News is only for church? Wouldn’t it be great to show our children that church gatherings are important AND that proclaiming the Good News to our families is JUST AS important?

  • Good News

    #8 Tom Hering,
    Didn’t Jesus make a promise that He would never leave us nor forsake us? Didn’t he give his Holy Spirit to indwell us and comfort us? I understand your point but also think the Scripture usage there is out of context…but we do not need to give an excuse for laziness either :)

    #10 rlewer,
    Good points. I think that there is much good in gathering as the family of believers and using it as an opportunity to show our children what’s important. But are we simply teaching our children that church attendance is more important than the Good News? Are we teaching them that the Good News is only for church? Wouldn’t it be great to show our children that church gatherings are important AND that proclaiming the Good News to our families is JUST AS important?

  • rlewer

    “that church attendance is more important than the Good News”?

    There is a false dicotomy if I ever saw one. If your church’s Divine Service does not proclaim the good news, find another church.

    Jesus Himself attended the synagogue service each Sabbath “as was His custom.”

    Hope this doesn’t sound harsh. I just get a little tired of people trying to separate Christ from His church.

    Merry Christmas!

  • rlewer

    “that church attendance is more important than the Good News”?

    There is a false dicotomy if I ever saw one. If your church’s Divine Service does not proclaim the good news, find another church.

    Jesus Himself attended the synagogue service each Sabbath “as was His custom.”

    Hope this doesn’t sound harsh. I just get a little tired of people trying to separate Christ from His church.

    Merry Christmas!

  • rlewer

    How does God’s proclamation of His Word in the Divine service keep anyone from sharing that Good News in other places? How does receiving the blessings of God’s grace in church tell anyone that this message is only for church? Just the opposite – Doesn’t the message in church also encourage us to share the Good News in other places?

  • rlewer

    How does God’s proclamation of His Word in the Divine service keep anyone from sharing that Good News in other places? How does receiving the blessings of God’s grace in church tell anyone that this message is only for church? Just the opposite – Doesn’t the message in church also encourage us to share the Good News in other places?

  • steve

    Jon @9 makes a good, if a bit over-generalized point. Can someone explain what happened to daily Communion for Protestants?

  • steve

    Jon @9 makes a good, if a bit over-generalized point. Can someone explain what happened to daily Communion for Protestants?

  • Grace

    Our church will have Christmas Eve services and services on Christmas day.

  • Grace

    Our church will have Christmas Eve services and services on Christmas day.

  • http://mikeerich.blogspot.com Mike Erich The Mad Theologian

    We are having Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services with communion being served on Christmas Day, though we are expecting a small turnout for the later. I have nothing against celebration and family togetherness, but when it trumps gathering together with the people of God I am convinced we have our priorities wrong.

  • http://mikeerich.blogspot.com Mike Erich The Mad Theologian

    We are having Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services with communion being served on Christmas Day, though we are expecting a small turnout for the later. I have nothing against celebration and family togetherness, but when it trumps gathering together with the people of God I am convinced we have our priorities wrong.

  • Helen K.

    As brand new members of a local LCMS congregation, we’ll be attending both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. I’m not sure if Holy Communion will be served. Then, after the Christmas Day service a goodly number of folks will share a Christmas dinner together in the parish hall.

    We are thrilled and grateful to now be officially Lutheran. One of us from a non-denominational background and the other, Southern Baptist. Finally home.

    Merry Christmas again, everyone.

  • Helen K.

    As brand new members of a local LCMS congregation, we’ll be attending both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. I’m not sure if Holy Communion will be served. Then, after the Christmas Day service a goodly number of folks will share a Christmas dinner together in the parish hall.

    We are thrilled and grateful to now be officially Lutheran. One of us from a non-denominational background and the other, Southern Baptist. Finally home.

    Merry Christmas again, everyone.

  • helen

    Welcome home, Helen K!
    Have a blessed Christmas!

    We have two services on Saturday, one at 4 pm and the second with communion at 6.30.
    On Sunday, we will only have one service, instead of our usual two, but it will be a communion service also.

  • helen

    Welcome home, Helen K!
    Have a blessed Christmas!

    We have two services on Saturday, one at 4 pm and the second with communion at 6.30.
    On Sunday, we will only have one service, instead of our usual two, but it will be a communion service also.

  • Eric Held

    Dr Veith

    There was quite a stir in OKC this past week on this issue

    The Oklahoman ran a front page top fold story about several churches in town canceling Christmas Sinday services including the multiple-campus Life Church.

    Several of the local news broadcasts ran with it and had viewer polls and commentary, etc. throughout the week.

    http://m.newsok.com/with-christmas-on-a-sunday-some-oklahoma-churches-alter-worship-plans/article/3632738

  • Eric Held

    Dr Veith

    There was quite a stir in OKC this past week on this issue

    The Oklahoman ran a front page top fold story about several churches in town canceling Christmas Sinday services including the multiple-campus Life Church.

    Several of the local news broadcasts ran with it and had viewer polls and commentary, etc. throughout the week.

    http://m.newsok.com/with-christmas-on-a-sunday-some-oklahoma-churches-alter-worship-plans/article/3632738

  • JunkerGeorg

    My Christmas Eve is tempered with laments in recent years. The annual Children’s Program, always held on Christmas Eve, tends to get out of hand–more a talent show than anything else. (Hard to reign things in when you get absolutely no backing from your elders.) But the consoling comfort is Christmas Day…while only a few come for that, mostly retired folk, we do have the Lord’s Supper. A true Christmass…

  • JunkerGeorg

    My Christmas Eve is tempered with laments in recent years. The annual Children’s Program, always held on Christmas Eve, tends to get out of hand–more a talent show than anything else. (Hard to reign things in when you get absolutely no backing from your elders.) But the consoling comfort is Christmas Day…while only a few come for that, mostly retired folk, we do have the Lord’s Supper. A true Christmass…

  • DonS

    We will be attending services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

    Kevin Sorensen @ 3: Your information about Saddleback Church canceling Christmas Day services is wrong. I don’t attend there, but their website indicates they will have their usual three services, as well as baptisms during their 11:15 service.

    If you are going to smear another body of believers, at least make sure your facts are straight.

  • DonS

    We will be attending services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

    Kevin Sorensen @ 3: Your information about Saddleback Church canceling Christmas Day services is wrong. I don’t attend there, but their website indicates they will have their usual three services, as well as baptisms during their 11:15 service.

    If you are going to smear another body of believers, at least make sure your facts are straight.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Eric @19, my beloved Oklahoma City! I saw the Wall Street Journal also had a story about this. It’s interesting that when this gets out into the press, the general public, including non-church goers, can sense that this is terribly, terribly wrong. And what message does this give to the “unchurched”? If it’s better to spend time with family than go to church, then I’ll just spend time with family every Sunday!

    This is all false dichotomy, of course. You are spending time with your family at church. (Well, not if the kids are kicked out at a “children’s church,” which many of these congregations practice.) But spend time together the rest of the day. Get up extra early to open presents.

    And Good News, I do not understand at all, the alternatives you are giving of sharing the gospel with your family and going to church. Doesn’t your church share the gospel? Can’t we share the gospel before, during, and after church?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Eric @19, my beloved Oklahoma City! I saw the Wall Street Journal also had a story about this. It’s interesting that when this gets out into the press, the general public, including non-church goers, can sense that this is terribly, terribly wrong. And what message does this give to the “unchurched”? If it’s better to spend time with family than go to church, then I’ll just spend time with family every Sunday!

    This is all false dichotomy, of course. You are spending time with your family at church. (Well, not if the kids are kicked out at a “children’s church,” which many of these congregations practice.) But spend time together the rest of the day. Get up extra early to open presents.

    And Good News, I do not understand at all, the alternatives you are giving of sharing the gospel with your family and going to church. Doesn’t your church share the gospel? Can’t we share the gospel before, during, and after church?

  • scott

    I do know of a decent-sized urban area where the two largest LCMS churches have cancelled Christmas Day services. It saddens me, and made me wonder how this wasn’t just playing into the hands of the modern culture’s idea that Christmas is really just about shopping and materialism and family (not the Holy Family, but one’s own).

    We sometimes use the phrase “Christmas and Easter” Christians for those who show up for church just on those two days of the year. It’s scary if the pastors of the church decide to voluntarily give up the “Christmas” portion of that.

  • scott

    I do know of a decent-sized urban area where the two largest LCMS churches have cancelled Christmas Day services. It saddens me, and made me wonder how this wasn’t just playing into the hands of the modern culture’s idea that Christmas is really just about shopping and materialism and family (not the Holy Family, but one’s own).

    We sometimes use the phrase “Christmas and Easter” Christians for those who show up for church just on those two days of the year. It’s scary if the pastors of the church decide to voluntarily give up the “Christmas” portion of that.

  • kenneth

    LCMS Lutheran in Denver is having 3 services Christmas eve and one comminion service on Christmas. I am glad to know that in a special way we number the 24 hours from twilight to twilight it makes the Christ Candle aglow+ A very,very, very Merry Christmas!

  • kenneth

    LCMS Lutheran in Denver is having 3 services Christmas eve and one comminion service on Christmas. I am glad to know that in a special way we number the 24 hours from twilight to twilight it makes the Christ Candle aglow+ A very,very, very Merry Christmas!

  • Joan

    Our former non-denominational church of 20+ years has canceled Christmas Day services this year as they did in 2005.

  • Joan

    Our former non-denominational church of 20+ years has canceled Christmas Day services this year as they did in 2005.

  • Steve in Toronto

    I may sound a bit defensive on this since my own church is not having a Sunday morning service (we left our Conventional Anglican Church for an ANiC (Anglican Network in Canada) plant that meets in a local high school and the public school board won’t let us meet on Statutory Holidays (no service on New Years Day either (We are doing a midnight service at a the home of one of our parishioners (I am looking forward to it’s the place our church first meet at three months ago a rapidly outgrew. We are having a Christmas eave service in a local theatre and I am fine with it. Christmas mornings are crazy enough (especially if like me have a 2 hour dive to your folk’s house with three sugar crazed kids in the back of the Car for Christmas dinner). My Anglo Catholic friend tells me that the Sabbath technically starts at sundown on Saturday night and that communing twice in the same day is kind of silly.

  • Steve in Toronto

    I may sound a bit defensive on this since my own church is not having a Sunday morning service (we left our Conventional Anglican Church for an ANiC (Anglican Network in Canada) plant that meets in a local high school and the public school board won’t let us meet on Statutory Holidays (no service on New Years Day either (We are doing a midnight service at a the home of one of our parishioners (I am looking forward to it’s the place our church first meet at three months ago a rapidly outgrew. We are having a Christmas eave service in a local theatre and I am fine with it. Christmas mornings are crazy enough (especially if like me have a 2 hour dive to your folk’s house with three sugar crazed kids in the back of the Car for Christmas dinner). My Anglo Catholic friend tells me that the Sabbath technically starts at sundown on Saturday night and that communing twice in the same day is kind of silly.

  • helen

    Steve,
    You’ve got a special situation. I’m glad your church is growing; I imagine you are all looking forward to permanent quarters.

    Most “sugar-crazed” kids would be equally excited about Christmas if they hadn’t had sugar.
    Like “attention deficit” for kids whose real problem is that Mom didn’t give them breakfast,
    the “sugar” excuse is extrapolated to a lot more kids and situations than it is relevant.

    You’ve got two hours to sing Christmas carols… how many do you know (from church rather than the mall)? :)

    Have a Merry Christmas!

  • helen

    Steve,
    You’ve got a special situation. I’m glad your church is growing; I imagine you are all looking forward to permanent quarters.

    Most “sugar-crazed” kids would be equally excited about Christmas if they hadn’t had sugar.
    Like “attention deficit” for kids whose real problem is that Mom didn’t give them breakfast,
    the “sugar” excuse is extrapolated to a lot more kids and situations than it is relevant.

    You’ve got two hours to sing Christmas carols… how many do you know (from church rather than the mall)? :)

    Have a Merry Christmas!

  • Tom Hering

    “My Anglo Catholic friend tells me that the Sabbath technically starts at sundown on Saturday night and that communing twice in the same day is kind of silly.” – Steve in Toronto @ 26.

    “Day,” from Wikipedia:

    The Jewish day begins at either sunset or at nightfall (when three second-magnitude stars appear). Medieval Europe followed this tradition, known as Florentine reckoning: in this system, a reference like “two hours into the day” meant two hours after sunset and thus times during the evening need to be shifted back one calendar day in modern reckoning. Days such as Christmas Eve, Halloween, and the Eve of Saint Agnes are the remnants of the older pattern when holidays began the evening before. Present common convention is for the civil day to begin at midnight, that is 00:00 (inclusive), and last a full 24 hours until 24:00 (exclusive). In ancient Egypt, the day was reckoned from sunrise to sunrise.

    So a day in the church calendar, following Medieval tradition, which followed Jewish tradition, is from sunset/nightfall to sunset/nightfall. (This was the understanding my parents brought with them from Poland. Hence, our main celebration on Christmas Eve, which is when we always opened our gifts – never on Christmas morning.)

  • Tom Hering

    “My Anglo Catholic friend tells me that the Sabbath technically starts at sundown on Saturday night and that communing twice in the same day is kind of silly.” – Steve in Toronto @ 26.

    “Day,” from Wikipedia:

    The Jewish day begins at either sunset or at nightfall (when three second-magnitude stars appear). Medieval Europe followed this tradition, known as Florentine reckoning: in this system, a reference like “two hours into the day” meant two hours after sunset and thus times during the evening need to be shifted back one calendar day in modern reckoning. Days such as Christmas Eve, Halloween, and the Eve of Saint Agnes are the remnants of the older pattern when holidays began the evening before. Present common convention is for the civil day to begin at midnight, that is 00:00 (inclusive), and last a full 24 hours until 24:00 (exclusive). In ancient Egypt, the day was reckoned from sunrise to sunrise.

    So a day in the church calendar, following Medieval tradition, which followed Jewish tradition, is from sunset/nightfall to sunset/nightfall. (This was the understanding my parents brought with them from Poland. Hence, our main celebration on Christmas Eve, which is when we always opened our gifts – never on Christmas morning.)

  • Jonathan

    @Sorensen appears to be correct about some so-called campuses of Saddlebrook cancelling Christmas services. It’s a conglomeration of several campuses, not one church, and not all appear to be holding Christmas Day services.

  • Jonathan

    @Sorensen appears to be correct about some so-called campuses of Saddlebrook cancelling Christmas services. It’s a conglomeration of several campuses, not one church, and not all appear to be holding Christmas Day services.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @Dr. Veith, #22

    “And what message does this give to the “unchurched”? If it’s better to spend time with family than go to church, then I’ll just spend time with family every Sunday!”
    —–
    Preaching to the choir here, no doubt…but fwiw, if Christ and Salvation is merely like platonistic “idea” one merely aspires to in contemplation, then one can do that anywhere–in fact, many more convenient and amenable places than church. I can do that in a duck blind, or on the couch, or in bed. For sure, Jesus is ever present and active with/for us at all times/places, but He is not SAVINGLY present and active with/for us in all times and places, but only where He has promised to be present in a saving manner, i.e., the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament.

    Secondly, for those who answer the question, “Why go to church?” with the anthropocentric response, “In order to worship God”, then it’s not long before some will conclude that they can do that anywhere at anytime. Indeed, according to precious doctrine of vocation, Christian actually do worship God simply by serving the neighbor placed before them–carrying out their daily vocations, offering themselves as living sacrifices in this way, for the neighbor’s sake. Yes, the dirty diaper a mother just changed was a worship of God!

    In short, we don’t have to be in church to “worship” God. We can and do do that anywhere. In fact, in some ways, as I remember a religion teacher once remark about the pharisaical spirit our old adam is guilty of: “Keep the *bleep* good works out of the church and in the world where they belong!” Having said that, we are not served by God in a saving/keeping-in-salvation manner everywhere, but only where He has attached His Word of promise to be/do so for us.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @Dr. Veith, #22

    “And what message does this give to the “unchurched”? If it’s better to spend time with family than go to church, then I’ll just spend time with family every Sunday!”
    —–
    Preaching to the choir here, no doubt…but fwiw, if Christ and Salvation is merely like platonistic “idea” one merely aspires to in contemplation, then one can do that anywhere–in fact, many more convenient and amenable places than church. I can do that in a duck blind, or on the couch, or in bed. For sure, Jesus is ever present and active with/for us at all times/places, but He is not SAVINGLY present and active with/for us in all times and places, but only where He has promised to be present in a saving manner, i.e., the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament.

    Secondly, for those who answer the question, “Why go to church?” with the anthropocentric response, “In order to worship God”, then it’s not long before some will conclude that they can do that anywhere at anytime. Indeed, according to precious doctrine of vocation, Christian actually do worship God simply by serving the neighbor placed before them–carrying out their daily vocations, offering themselves as living sacrifices in this way, for the neighbor’s sake. Yes, the dirty diaper a mother just changed was a worship of God!

    In short, we don’t have to be in church to “worship” God. We can and do do that anywhere. In fact, in some ways, as I remember a religion teacher once remark about the pharisaical spirit our old adam is guilty of: “Keep the *bleep* good works out of the church and in the world where they belong!” Having said that, we are not served by God in a saving/keeping-in-salvation manner everywhere, but only where He has attached His Word of promise to be/do so for us.

  • Dan Sheppard

    According to my subscription to “The Daily”, First Baptist Church of Atlanta is holding off. The title of the article is, “I’ll Stay Home For Christmas.”

  • Dan Sheppard

    According to my subscription to “The Daily”, First Baptist Church of Atlanta is holding off. The title of the article is, “I’ll Stay Home For Christmas.”

  • Helen K.

    Helen @18…..

    Thanks, Helen. The Lord’s richest blessing to you also. (and to all of you on this blog of course).

    And a special thanks to Dr. Veith, whose “Spirituality of the Cross” helped steer me to the Lutheran Church, LCMS.

    Is anyone listening to the Lutheran Public Radio Christmas music? I have an old computer but was able to access it.

    Have a lovely day tomorrow!

  • Helen K.

    Helen @18…..

    Thanks, Helen. The Lord’s richest blessing to you also. (and to all of you on this blog of course).

    And a special thanks to Dr. Veith, whose “Spirituality of the Cross” helped steer me to the Lutheran Church, LCMS.

    Is anyone listening to the Lutheran Public Radio Christmas music? I have an old computer but was able to access it.

    Have a lovely day tomorrow!

  • JunkerGeorg

    Ok, ok, correction, in case some Lutheran sticklers complain: If by “worship” we mean it not in the common understanding of being our act of praise to God, of ascribing “worth” to Him (i.e., telling Him how wonderful He is and giving thanks for all He gives), but as Melanchthon did in his Apology to the Augsburg Confession, namely, “latriea”, then yes, we do worship God in church. In fact, in the sense latriea, the highest worship we can render to God is to simply receive His works for us, to receive His service of us, to receive His gifts, to receive His Christ. It more blessed to give than to receive—and God in Christ is more blessed than us. Hence, nothing pleases Him more than our receiving Him in passive, receptive faith (a “fides directus” which He Himself works and preserves in us as well.)

  • JunkerGeorg

    Ok, ok, correction, in case some Lutheran sticklers complain: If by “worship” we mean it not in the common understanding of being our act of praise to God, of ascribing “worth” to Him (i.e., telling Him how wonderful He is and giving thanks for all He gives), but as Melanchthon did in his Apology to the Augsburg Confession, namely, “latriea”, then yes, we do worship God in church. In fact, in the sense latriea, the highest worship we can render to God is to simply receive His works for us, to receive His service of us, to receive His gifts, to receive His Christ. It more blessed to give than to receive—and God in Christ is more blessed than us. Hence, nothing pleases Him more than our receiving Him in passive, receptive faith (a “fides directus” which He Himself works and preserves in us as well.)

  • Tom Hering

    “Is anyone listening to the Lutheran Public Radio Christmas music?”

    I am, Helen K., and it’s really making my Christmas a joyous one for me. If I listened, instead, to all the secular, happy-sappy family stuff, it would depress me, as my mother and sister live a few states away.

    Later, it’s off to the pre-midnight service (traditional)!

    My LCMS church will be doing 3:30, 5:30, 7:30, and 11:00 PM services today (as “today” is defined by the civil calendar), and a 9:30 AM service tomorrow. I just glanced out the window – my church is 1/2 block away – and the 3:30 looks packed. What a wonderful sight. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    “Is anyone listening to the Lutheran Public Radio Christmas music?”

    I am, Helen K., and it’s really making my Christmas a joyous one for me. If I listened, instead, to all the secular, happy-sappy family stuff, it would depress me, as my mother and sister live a few states away.

    Later, it’s off to the pre-midnight service (traditional)!

    My LCMS church will be doing 3:30, 5:30, 7:30, and 11:00 PM services today (as “today” is defined by the civil calendar), and a 9:30 AM service tomorrow. I just glanced out the window – my church is 1/2 block away – and the 3:30 looks packed. What a wonderful sight. :-)

  • Helen K.

    Tom @34…and isn’t the music great! I’ve never cared for “pop” Christmas music to begin with.

    Our church’s service for this evening will be at 4 p.m. and then at 7 p.m. Its in a retirement community and I think most of the elderly folks don’t want to be out driving very late. We plan on going at 7. I miss the midnight services I used to attend up in WA State. We were going to Lutheran churches on Christmas Eve even back then as we liked their services so much more than most.
    Our service on Christmas Day will be at 10 a.m. and then a Christmas dinner around 11:15. This will be nice for us as we have no family near here. Phil’s people are all back in GA.

    It would be wonderful to have our church 1/2 a block away. We are about 9 miles from ours but no big deal. And of course no snow or anything to drive in to get there.

    Merry Christmas again!!

  • Helen K.

    Tom @34…and isn’t the music great! I’ve never cared for “pop” Christmas music to begin with.

    Our church’s service for this evening will be at 4 p.m. and then at 7 p.m. Its in a retirement community and I think most of the elderly folks don’t want to be out driving very late. We plan on going at 7. I miss the midnight services I used to attend up in WA State. We were going to Lutheran churches on Christmas Eve even back then as we liked their services so much more than most.
    Our service on Christmas Day will be at 10 a.m. and then a Christmas dinner around 11:15. This will be nice for us as we have no family near here. Phil’s people are all back in GA.

    It would be wonderful to have our church 1/2 a block away. We are about 9 miles from ours but no big deal. And of course no snow or anything to drive in to get there.

    Merry Christmas again!!

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 29: Only two of the campuses of Saddleback are not holding Sunday services — Fullerton and Ladera Ranch. Both of these bodies are combining with other Saddleback campuses because of facility availability issues on Christmas Day — they meet in public facilities that were not made available to them because of the holiday.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 29: Only two of the campuses of Saddleback are not holding Sunday services — Fullerton and Ladera Ranch. Both of these bodies are combining with other Saddleback campuses because of facility availability issues on Christmas Day — they meet in public facilities that were not made available to them because of the holiday.

  • Debbye

    Our PCA church offered both a Christmas Eve candlelight service and a Christmas Day worship service. Our family attended both. On our drive to church yesterday, we were dismayed to see a few churches closed on Sunday because of Christmas. It sends a terrible message to unbelievers.

  • Debbye

    Our PCA church offered both a Christmas Eve candlelight service and a Christmas Day worship service. Our family attended both. On our drive to church yesterday, we were dismayed to see a few churches closed on Sunday because of Christmas. It sends a terrible message to unbelievers.


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