Saturday, December 10, 2005

Churches Close Doors on Christmas Day

It's a good thing Mary and Joseph aren't looking for a place to stay on Christmas Day. As you might know, they'd have no place to stay in several Lexington mega-churches. The reaction to this Bad News has been wide-spread. Here, for example, is what Ben Witherington, professor at Asbury Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky, has to say: Well I suppose it had to happen. The mega-church in Lexington (Southland Christian) consulted with other mega-churches like Willow Creek and decided that they would close on Dec. 25th, even though its a Sunday and even though its Christmas Day! The rationale given in our local newspaper The Lexington-Herald Leader was--- people are so busy and Christmas is supposed to be a family day, so this decision was made as a family friendly gesture. But wait a minute--- whose birthday is it anyway? And which family is supposed to be serving which--- the family of faith or the physical family? Talking about putting the EM-Phasis on the wrong syl-LABLE. Our culture does not need any encouragement to be more self-centered and narcissistic or to stay at home on Sunday. It is already that way. Christmas above all else should be a day when we come together as the body of Christ to worship and adore the Lord Jesus. Christmas should be the day above all days where we don't stay home and open all those things we bought for ourselves INSTEAD of going to church. Christmas should be the day when we forget about ourselves for a few hours and go and honor the birthday of the great King, our Savior. What we are dealing with here are churches whose priorities are so askew that they somehow think it is more important for the church to serve the wants of the physical family than the other way around. This is a far cry from the pattern of the original disciples of Jesus who were seen leaving homes, relatives, jobs to come and follow Jesus. What kind of message does it send to our culture when churches close on one of its highest holy days? That it is o.k. to stay home and do one's own thing even on Jesus' birthday? It is past time that these sorts of churches be called to account. It is time for them to realize that they have simply capitulated to the larger culture's agenda on issue after issue, in this case in supporting the worship of the idol called family in place of the worship of Jesus. The church does not exist to serve the world, but rather to save the world. The church does not exist to serve the physical family but rather to redeem it and make clear that if it is a Christian family it has a larger and more primary obligation to the family of faith and to its Lord. Christmas is one of two days in the year when we should especially make that clear to our culture and our country. Shame on you mega-churches--- repent and believe the Gospel, starting with the birth stories of Jesus.


Blogger capost said...

“One man considers one day more sacred than another, another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind….Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead make up your mind not to put a stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way….Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification….So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” Romans 14

In Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians he gave these instructions. So while my wife and I will attend services on Sunday, December 25, we do not condemn those who have chosen not to honor this day in the same way. And if there are singles or homeless that we know will be alone that day, we will invite them to services with us. We should not give in to anti-Christian criticism that has more to do with dividing believers than with celebration of our Lord’s birth.

Please check your own heart before you criticize. How many people disconnected from family or friend’s were you actually planning to invite on Sunday, the 25th?

Consider Jesus was likely born in July, not December. Only after several centuries did Christians start commemorating His birth. Let me remind gently those who think this is the most significant event in the Christian calendar that the ONLY event we are commanded to observe is His death and resurrection, and that is not at a required anniversary event, but “whenever you (eat this bread or) drink this cup, do it in remembrance of me” I Corinth 12:25,26.

Friday, 16 December, 2005  
Blogger Mason Smith said...

Although I understand the position Capost describes, I am much more in sympathy with Ben Witherington's stand.

Of course, my family situation is unique and perhaps others are in very different situations. My wife an I have four children all at home, and we try to make every day a family day. Christmas is a time that we're off from work and school, and so we really want to make it special in a spiritual way not in a materialistic way.

There's so much pressure to celebrate the materialism of Christmas via TV ads and in-store displays at the mall, that anything we can do to counter that is welcome. I'm delighted that Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. We'll go to chruch at exactly the right time to reinforce the message that this is a holiday in honor of Lord Jesus not the lord of consumption.

I hope I am not judging people too harshly when I say I think the mega-churches have missed a wonderful opportunity this year.

Sunday, 18 December, 2005  

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