Saturday, December 24, 2005

Isn't it IRONIC? Dontcha think?

I came across this brief story with an unknown source. The irony is hard to miss:

Two women who were having lunch in an elegant hotel were approached by a mutual friend who asked the occasion for the meal.

One lady replied, “We are celebrating the birth of my baby boy.”

“But where is he?” inquired the friend.

“Oh,” said the mother, “you didn’t think I’d bring him, did you?”

What a picture of the way the world treats Jesus at Christmas.

Never have I thought that was more accurate than this Christmas, which just happens to fall on a Sunday.

Now, I'll be the first to make a suggestion with regard to the scheduling of Christmas. Since we don't know the actual date of Christ's birth (though we're pretty confident it wasn't in December/winter), we're not really bound by the 25th of December. So ... my suggestion is to do what is done with Thanksgiving. Why not have the observation of Christmas fall on the last Thursday or Friday of December? (Ever notice that we don't celebrate the resurrection on a prescribed date?)

People could plan a longer vacation like Thanksgiving and you'd always know when it will be (i.e., what day of the week). I'm not sure who I need to talk to about that, but it makes more sense to me. Tradition, however, will be hard to overcome ... though it's not necessarily a biblical tradition (i.e., 12/25).

In the meantime, Christmas IS on a SUNDAY this year and there has been more than a little controversy about how to respond. Some churches (typically the bigger ones) have cancelled services on Christmas morning. Others (including ours) have not.

[For the record, I will issue this caveat that I am much more disappointed with churches canceling services than I am with individual Christians missing worship, some of whom are not able to meet with their congregation because of said cancellation. The leaders set the tone and they have set the tone that church is not that important, because they have a low ecclesiology (i.e., a low view of church). In other words, the local church is not that important. This epidemic (low ecclesiology) will have to be the topic of another post, however.]

Tom Ascol of Founders Ministies has some great insight on what these closings indicate about the state of much of American Christianity. Indeed, there is a dramatic IRONY involved in ceasing to gather together to worship the Lord Jesus Christ because it's not convenient to worship the Lord Jesus Christ because we're going to be opening gifts and won't be able to drag ourselves to worship the Risen Lord with God's people by 11AM.

Before you answer, isn't inconvenience the primary reason for anyone to neglect the gathering together for worship on the Lord's Day? The lake calls. Football pregame calls. The yard work calls. More sleep calls. Say what you want, but we make time for that which is important to us.

Yet, many Christians will find something of greater value than worshipping Christ with His people on a day commemorating HIS birth. One might argue that the intent is still to worship Jesus ... just at home, with family. But, when did Christmas become a family day as opposed to a church holy day? Have even Christians become too busy with Christmas for church?

Perhaps irony is the flavor of the month. Christians are more upset that stores are minimizing Christ this season (e.g., "Happy Holidays," etc.) than they are that churches are minimizing Christ (i.e., no corporate worship).

What I find most ironic is that Christians are happy enough to abstain from a biblically grounded practice (God's people gathering together on the Lord's Day to worship the Risen Lord) in favor of an extrabiblical practice (no examples whatsoever of Christians celebrating Christ's birthday as church holy day).

Am I the only one who sees the irony? Of course not. However, some will go further and see it as outright hypocrisy. The world loves to see Christians look silly and hypocritical. I think this is one of those instances where the church has fueled the fire.

Brit Hume of Fox News picked up on this (making the accusation of "secularizing Christmas", and he's not alone.
Closed for Christmas
It seems even places of worship aren't immune to secularizing Christmas. Some of the country's largest churches are shutting their doors on Christmas Day
so that staff and volunteers can spend time with their families. So-called megachurches near Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, and Detroit, where thousands of people worship each week, are closing for Christmas, despite the fact that the holiday falls on a Sunday. What's more, pastors at the churches report that the decision hasn't generated much controversy. One Kentucky pastor says Christmas is no longer sacred to many Americans, adding, "It's viewed more as a holiday than a holy day."
So ... Christian ... What is Christmas to you? Is it a holiday or a holy day? I have a hunch that where you are tomorrow morning before lunch will go a long way to answering that question.

Remember, Jesus (and not family getting together) is the reason for the season.

24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:24-25


At 24 December, 2005 16:26, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...

Amen and Amen. I'm pretty sure my whole family in Marietta is planning to skip church this year, so they'll have more time to straighten up the house and set the table before family arrives. These are the same people (and I love them, don't get me wrong) that dispense so much energy railing over the secularization of Christmas. Thanks for pointing out the irony here, Gunny. I hadn't yet connected those dots. I haven't told anyone yet, but I'm planning to strike out tomorrow morning to attend a local worship service (you know, cuz I'm better than them, just kidding). I cannot imagine how neglecting the assembling of the saints in any way honors the the Son whose incarnation we are supposed to be celebrating. The angels of heaven didn't take the night off when Jesus was born but sang out praises ascribing glory to God in the highest. What a privilege and joy to sing praises to the Son who condescended and took the form of a servant in order to redeem the church from sin and death and raise her up to be with him forever. His desecending to this world should excite our praises to ascend to heaven. Let us praise our triune God for his grace displayed in the redemption of sinners!

At 25 December, 2005 00:20, Blogger GUNNY said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Jay.

Apparently, you're feeling some of my frustration/consternation.

I have to think that afterward a great many people will regret having neglecting said assembly in favor of an extra hour or two of preparation/family time.

Hey, it's never convenient to collect oneself and join the saints for worship. That's why so many watch on tv or claim they can be just as holy worshiping God at the lake or on the golf course.

Again, I'm thinking folks have a low ecclesiology. They don't realize that they need the body and the body needs them and that God has ordained corporate worship to demonstate the nature of the body.

Arrgghh. I guess I'm preaching to the choir, but you should up on the Lord's Day. Who else is there to hear?


Post a Comment

<< Home

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting