In 2005 there was a Christian Christmas firestorm (and again in 2011). What brought about this maelstrom? Christmas had the audacity to fall on a Sunday. The dilemma, of course, was what to do? Many churches were backing off -- "Only one combined service today" -- or closing entirely "in honor of Christmas". "We need to be sensitive to our staff and volunteers so they can be with their families on Christmas." Seems odd, given the apparently large numbers of what I like to refer to as "Chreaster Christians", those folk that consider themselves Christians because they dutifully attend on Christmas and Easter. The truth is Christmas services are among the most attended Sundays of the year. Just not when it is actually Christmas Day. Others howled. "How can you close the doors (a lot or a little) on Jesus's birthday?!"
Welcome to 2016. It's doing it again.
Churches are offering different options this year. Maybe it's a heavy focus on Christmas Eve services. Maybe a pre-recorded online service at your leisure. And, of course, a good number are taking a quick, single-service approach. You know, so they don't mess up the real Christmas -- family and opening gifts.
In earlier times I might have been animated about this. Not so much now. Sanders did too well in the primaries. Hillary looked like a shoe-in. Trump was elected. First World nations are more secularized than ever. So are their churches. The new "Evangelicalism" bears no resemblance to ... you know ... Evangelicalism. Oh, and my Bible says that "in the last days" this is how things will go. It won't be pretty. When Jesus asked, "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8), the answer was surely "Yes" with the clear caveat that it won't be a large number. It used to be that Christians called Sunday "the Lord's Day" and regarded it as the "Christian Sabbath" -- a mandatory day of rest and a day in which every Christian was sure to be in church. Well, we've thrown most of that out now. Show up if you want on any given Sunday. Or not. Whatever. Today's Christian sees church as a more personal experience, not "the communion of the saints".
So, when we see that churches would much rather defend the tradition of being with family opening gifts on Christmas than the tradition of worshiping Christ with His followers on the celebration of His birth, it should come as no surprise. I am not complaining. I'm merely suggesting that each of us ought to examine our own hearts in the matter. Is it more important to open gifts or to give the gift of worship (Rom 12:1) to the One whose birthday we're recognizing? Is it more important to be with family (Luke 14:26) or to be with the family of God on such a day? I'm not saying that gifts or family are bad things. I'm just asking you to consider what is your higher calling. Just a Christmas 2016 priority check. You're welcome.