6 Reasons Not to Cancel Church on Christmas

6 Reasons Not to Cancel Church on Christmas October 4, 2022

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It’s another one of those years.

In case it hasn’t hit you yet, Christmas is on Sunday this year, and many churches are already making plans to cancel.

The first time I heard about a church canceling a Sunday, ANY Sunday, for a reason other than dire emergencies, was early December 2005. This girl I was dating at the time told me that her family’s church, a gargantuan megachurch in Suburban Atlanta (Yes, it’s the one you’re probably already thinking about.) was canceling their services on Christmas Day.

Naturally, we broke up on Christmas Eve.

If your church is thinking about canceling, please, please reconsider for the following reasons, and any others you can think of.

1. It’s Sunday.

Before anything else, it’s Sunday. This is the day the church gathers for worship. It’s not just Christmas, it’s a little Easter.

2. Christmas is about Jesus, not family.

That’s right. I said it. That whole thing about the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us? Yeah, that really happened, and it changes everything. That’s what this whole Christmas thing is all about.
For me personally, I think those are more than enough reason to take an hour or so off from celebrating the sentimental, Hallmark reasons for the season and get your happy butts to church. But in case you aren’t quite convinced, read on.

3. Canceling Christmas services turns Christmas into a civil observance instead of a sacred day.

I do love many things about the time known culturally as the “Christmas season.” The weather, hitting the mall in the evening, parties, watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (“Where’s the Tylenol?”). But, as fun and exciting as these things can be, the discipline of the church year helps us realize that these things are merely periphery. Our lives are divided up into semesters, work schedules, electric bills, tax deadlines. Intentionally choosing a gospel-centered organizational system helps us to maintain our first allegiance to Christ and his kingdom. Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Have church.

4. Even if it’s a low-attendance Sunday people will come.

I get it. Sunday worship on Christmas Day will be a low-attendance activity. It shouldn’t be, but it is. But people will still show up. Some will come by themselves. Some will bring their families and out-of-town guests. Is worship only worth it if we get lots of butts in the seats? No. People will have a chance to hear the Word preached, and (hopefully) to receive Communion. Tell them that God the creator has entered the world. Nothing else matters more.

5. The suggestion that cancelling church is a “pro-family” idea doesn’t make sense.

Is the church a drain on families in general? On a Sunday when virtually everyone is off work for a day, and often longer? I would hope that our official position would be different; that gathered worship is vitally important, and that the gifts God has to offer would grow, refresh, and strengthen us as individuals and as families. Don’t guilt anyone for not coming to your church, but don’t delude yourself into thinking giving families one more hour of toys and calories is going to strengthen them more than God’s gifts of Word and Sacrament.

6. If your volunteers are so over-taxed that you have to give them all a Sunday off, perhaps you need to scale back your ministries in other areas during the rest of the year.

Christmas Sunday shouldn’t be the first thing to get the axe. Remembering what the purpose of the church is? The Word rightly preached, and the sacraments rightly administered. Cancel all your other regular Sunday opportunities. Cancel Sunday School. Cancel breakfast. Cancel yoga. Cancel life groups. But please don’t cancel worship.

So, church, for the love, keep Christ in Christmas. And keep the “mass” in Christmas, while you’re at it. Don’t cancel church.

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