Each year we spend a great deal of time searching for the “perfect” gifts. We want each box to be filled with items that tangibly express our love, care, and appreciation for the recipient. It’s a lot of pressure! But I believe this year, the 2016 calendar, will finally enable us to get it right! This year Christmas falls on a Sunday and it will allow followers of Jesus opportunities to give some amazing gifts.
My hope for this blog is not to condemn you, convict you, or even “call you out.” My only hope is to give followers of Christ who I can hear singing, “I’ll be home for Christmas”, a few things to consider before making final worship plans. Why? Because I’m truly a convinced the greatest gift and the gift filled with the most memories in 2016 won’t be found wrapped under a tree, but revealed with your presence at a Christmas Morning Worship Service.
Consider this: your presence at Christmas Morning Worship could potentially be:
- The Greatest Gift to Your Immediate Family.
I’ve heard it said that Family Discipleship, or teaching your family to become more like Jesus, is both “taught” and “caught.” My parents taught me how to follow Christ with their words, but they showed me how to follow Christ with their lives. For me, and as for you, both elements are needed to become more like Jesus. But I think we can all agree which is easier! We didn’t get the expression “practice what you preach” because of our word and deed consistency!
Truth is, we live in a broken world filled with all sorts of temptations which are constantly vying for our worship. For followers of Christ in 2016, it is a daily decision to pursue Jesus over the things that our hearts desire. Then comes Christmas falling on a Sunday. My heart wants to stay home. The easy thing would be to stay home and I could easily justify staying home (The church isn’t a building, am I right? It’s a people!), but in life the convenient thing is rarely the best thing.
I believe we must ask ourselves a crucial question: Is the best thing for our immediate families, who are our responsibility to train to become more like Jesus, to stay home? I’m worried about what might be “caught” from that teaching moment and feel we may end up regret having taught it.
Serious Question: How do we teach a message on following Christ in all seasons when at the slightest inconvenience we neglect to do what we’ve taught for so long was of considerable importance, the gathering of the saints (Hebrews 10:25)? It’s inconsistent at best and hypocrisy at worst.
Bottom line: We will ALWAYS sacrifice, financially support, and make time for the things we sincerely love regardless of convenience.
Attending Christmas Morning Worship will likely not be convenient for your family, but the lesson “caught,” Christ’s importance and worthiness of sacrifice in all areas of our life, may be the gift that your immediate family never forgets.
- The Greatest Gift to Your Friends and Family Who are Far From God.
Every year, Christmas is simultaneously the most joyful time of the year and the most depressing. It’s all a matter of situation. For families that have welcomed new birth, it can be a time filled with laughter and smiles. But for those who have said goodbye to life, it can be a time of heartache and tears.
We learned long ago that our words, actions, Christmas cards, and gifts can mean the world to people. I’m convinced that our lives have the potential of pointing people towards a loving Savior. On our bad days, we may not want to admit this, but God always has and until the return of Jesus, will use normal everyday people like you and me for His eternal purposes.
Then there is something else. The people in your life that are far from God aren’t nearly as opposed to Jesus as you would like to believe. Convincing ourselves that people don’t want to hear about our Christian faith may help us to sleep at night, but it’s simply not true and will never take away our responsibility to share Jesus with others.
People that are lonely and do not want to consider going through another Christmas without the ones they love may consider attending a Christmas Morning Worship service with you. It may not be the greatest motivation that gets them in a position to hear about the life found in Jesus, but it may be the exact thing God uses to share with them humanity’s greatest gift, all the while using your invitation and presence in Christmas Worship to accomplish it.
- The Greatest Gift to Your Church Family.
The primary hesitation I’ve heard people share about attending Christmas Morning Worship is their desire to spend it with “their family.” I understand this and can definitely identify with it. However, Jesus made the whole “who is my family” situation pretty clear in Luke 8:21.
“Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:19-21)
Many of us are blessed to have biological family and it is our responsibility to show them the love of Jesus Christ. However, our showing them love and support should never be to the disregard of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Your presence at corporate worship matters more than you will ever know and may be the greatest gift your brothers and sisters in Christ receive in 2016.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
I want to wrap this up by encouraging you one more time… please consider attending Christmas Morning Worship. It’s potentially the greatest gift you will give anyone in 2016.
And BTW! New Year’s Day Worship is coming and people with New Year’s resolutions to begin attending worship services are close behind. I hope you are present to greet them!
I pray this helps you grow in your love for Christ, His Church, and His Mission!