This is the second Christmas blog post that seeks to cut through nominalism and encourage true worship of the Lord this Christmas season. The first was titled Christmas vs. Jesus.
A number of years ago at a church I was serving at there was a strong human tradition surrounding Remembrance Day (Nov 11). In the community this day was sacred. At the 11th hour everything stopped and a sizable portion of the village assembled at the cenotaph. Having been in the army I thought that this was very commendable. However, it illustrated an interesting point when Remembrance Day fell on the date and the time of our regular Lord’s Day worship of the Lord (which also had a Remembrance Day element such as a moment silence, etc). This rare occasion pitted one [noble] human tradition against the divine command of worship on the Lord’s Day (Rev 1:10; Ex 20:8–11). Sadly this produced an interesting spiritual experiment: would people choose a human tradition or joyful obedience to the Lord’s command?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Prov 3:5–6).
It saddened my heart because some from our fellowship choose their own way and prioritised a human tradition over faithful obedience to the Lord. In fact one of the roles of the Sabbath command is to reveal our idols for the thing we are most tempted to do on the Lord’s Day (or do in place of worshipping Him) shows where our priorities truly lie (click here to read a blog on this subject).
The same is true of Christmas this year, as Christmas falls on the Lord’s Day. Christmas, a noble event in salvation history that we remember on December 25th (along with things this day has come to mean to people making this the human tradition par excellence) will be pitted against the Lord’s Day, the first day of every week sacred to the Lord. Will people “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”?
In all honesty December 25th, 2016 is a double blessing. We have the joy of not only honouring the Lord’s Sabbath command, not only remembering Christ’s resurrection from the dead and celebrating the new life we have in Him, but also on this rare occurrence of also remembering His incarnation and worshipping Him. After all isn’t Christmas about worshipping Jesus anyway?
But how many will be tempted to skip worship because they think they have too much to do or prepare?
How many will prioritise family, travel or vacation over the Lord?
How many will be lured by using those gift cards and shopping online?
Which day will trump the other? Will we fit Christmas into our Lord’s Day observance, or will the celebration of [a secular?] Christmas squeeze out and overshadow the Lord’s Day?
For Christians in a mixed family environment this can be very tricky. I empathise for those whom December 25 will present a significant moral dilemma between pleasing the Lord or family, but what an opportunity to witness by taking a stand for the Lord and explaining the reason for your position with gentleness and respect. I remember one side of our family always used to have their Christmas lunch on the Lord’s Day before Christmas. Only three families within this wider family were Christian, the rest were either nominally so or not at all and so in their mind no moral dilemma existed. They had no trouble having an early lunch because they didn’t have a greater appointment beforehand. Yet because three families always worshipped the Lord on a Lord’s Day morning that always came into conflict with the timing of this family Christmas meal. Usually the time of the meal was not pushed back to accommodate, though very occasionally it was, which meant that for those who choose worship ahead of family, you got some cold left overs upon your arrival. However, while they had neglected their duty, we had the joy of not neglecting ours.
I hope that this Christmas worshipping the Lord and honouring his day—first and foremost—will come ahead of any planned festivities.
“Let us not neglect to meet together as is the habit of some.” (Heb 10:25)
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,