The sad condition of the modern American church will be illustrated again this December 25th, as thousands will proclaim loudly with their voices “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and then cancel church services on the one day a week God has set aside for His worship. Every year, as the professing church in the U.S. seems to resemble the world more and more, the man-made holiday of Christmas replaces the one Holy Day when the church is supposed to gather as one: the first day of the week[1], the day of the Resurrection of Christ. It is not surprising that the more Christmas and other holidays are made lofty, the more the Lord’s Day is trampled upon.

Many mega-churches are “leading the way”:

One church in New York must consider ministry a burden, so it has given

a special gift to all of our hard-working Staff and Volunteers so that they can spend Christmas with family and friends… there will be no services THIS Sunday (December 25).” [2]

Another puts it more simply:

There will be no services this Sunday as it is Christmas Day. Please enjoy the day with your families,” [3] 

while yet another tells us that

this is an opportunity for you to spend quality time at home with your family & friends. [4]

In what may be the most bizarre or ironic juxtaposition of the season, a pastor in Newberg, Oregon writes:

“Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!” – Psalm 90:1 (NLT)

The word “home” is a very powerful word. Some of us have great memories of our home growing up as children, while some of us have a longing for what use to be home. Even if our past is not filled with good home memories, we still can relate to the idea of home, a place where you are safe. We do a lot to our homes to make them look nice and make them feel comfortable but a home is very temporary. In December we have a series called “Home for Christmas” we’re talking about something that is eternal. Come home for Christmas is about having a relational connection with the God who is eternal.

It’s a picture of the closeness between you and God. That’s what coming home means. It means being close and connected to God. Some of us are so thankful for that and we love being reminded. For others maybe it will be for the first time or maybe it’s a reconnect.

The truth is, life works best when you’re connected to God, when you’re close to God. So no matter what your temporary situation is in life or what you feel like it is right now, today, you can come home. [5]

The church goes on to list its services:

Friday December 23rd 7:00 PM (special Christmas eve, eve service)
No Services Sunday – Christmas Day

So, they encourage people to find a true home in God, one that is eternal, then they close the doors on a day when some who haven’t found that home in Christ might hear the gospel? Notice that they don’t even bother trying to have a Christmas Eve service, but–Thank Themselves!–they do have a Christmas Eve, Eve service).

One church seems to get it.  It laments the profaning of sacred things.  Speaking of the wise men who visited Jesus, Southbridge Church of Orland Park, Illinois wrote:

They treated Him as sacred and Holy- set apart. Their actions teach us a great lesson. All around us, things that were once sacred are being profaned- our values, the institution of marriage, etc. That which we want to be special in our lives has to be made and kept sacred. We can preserve what is sacred in our lives this Christmas by following the worship that these mysterious strangers bestowed on the baby Jesus.

However, at the end of next paragraph they wrote “We will NOT be having service on Sunday morning, Christmas Day.” (All caps in original, just in case someone in the church still thinks Sunday is for Church!).

Ego apparently can get in the way, according to the Baptist Standard:

With teachers in short supply—and church officers who have no desire to keep records of low attendance—many congregations report plans to cancel Sunday school.

To be clear, it is not the profaning of Christmas that is the problem (one cannot profane that which is not holy), it is the placing of Christmas above the weekly holy Sabbath that God ordained as a day of rest and worship.

Watch for a round of cancellations on Super Bowl Sunday next year, as another American Idol will likely get its due. The only reason we don’t cancel church for Mother’s Day is because Americans don’t worship mom as much as we do holidays and football.

This Sunday as always, Christians should find a place to praise God, here the preaching of the gospel, and pray together. We are confronted with choosing the same idolatry that Joshua faced:

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites[6], in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Joshua 24: 15 

P.S.  This is spreading like the fires of hell.  I just found a church that canceled last year for LABOR DAY.

Some Methodist churches have decided to make no-church Sundays a regular aspect of their schedule.

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