Dear CTK Family,
This year, Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. Especially for those of us with small children, the excitement of waking up early, exchanging gifts, eating a special breakfast, and playing with new toys until mid-afternoon seems like the whole point of the day. Whether you'll be traveling or staying home in Boston, I'd like to suggest a few advantages to making worship a priority on Christmas Day.
1) God's people will be gathering to worship. Where else would you rather be? Christians keep the Sabbath. We gather to worship on the first day of the week to enter into the God's Rest, which he has promised us in Christ. We no longer have to earn God's Rest by laboring for six days, but we receive God's Rest freely through the merits of Christ, and we labor on the following six days because we have been fed and empowered by Christ. By resting and worshiping on the first day of the week, we are aligning the rhythm of our lives to the Gospel, God's message that he gives us the Kingdom of Heaven freely, through his own labor in Christ, not ours. (See Hebrews 4.)
2) You get to show your children that Jesus is more important that presents. People talk a lot about trying to hold onto the "real meaning of Christmas," especially Christians. We seem to all agree that there's a danger that all of the gift-giving—or maybe it's the gift-receiving!—can foster greed and selfishness in our kids instead of generosity and gratitude. This year you have the opportunity to demonstrate to your children (or maybe just to yourself or your friends and extended family if you don't have kids) that the "real meaning of Christmas" is that God has given himself to us in Christ Jesus. You have the opportunity to declare with your actions that faithfully worshiping Christ as he calls us to himself and offers himself to us in Word and Sacrament is far more important than opening presents and playing with toys. And when they wail and gnash their teeth (I mean, let's face it: there's a good chance), you have the opportunity this year to say, "But this is what we do. It's Sunday, and on Sundays we go to church." God does not command us to exchange gifts on December 25; but he does command us to keep the Sabbath holy. This year we get to show our children that we take God's commands seriously. They may hate it, and they may even resent it, especially if they're older and this is a new priority in your family. But they will hear your message loud and clear: Jesus reigns above everything.
3) You get to celebrate the miracle of the Incarnation with God's people around the world. As American Christians, we have a tendency to forget what a stunning miracle it is that God became a man. The pure, ever burning, brightly shining, unchanging, all-powerful Spirit that spoke the world itself into being took on flesh--flimsy, mutable, soft, finite, sweaty flesh, made of dirt and water. In doing this, he added Divinity into the physical world and brought the physical world into heaven itself. He affirmed that matter is good. He declared that he bodies are worthwhile. More than that, he committed himself irrevocably to making the material world good and pure and holy. The Incarnation means he will never give up on us now. And all around the world, Christians will celebrating this astounding event together. God became a baby. You have the opportunity to join that celebration.
4) You get to join with our Brothers and Sisters who have gone before us in history. Christmas, "Christ's Mass," exists as a holiday because our elder siblings in Christ felt that it was important to gather to worship and commemorate the birth of Jesus, regardless of the day of the week. Long before Christmas had become a day for families to give gifts, Christmas was a day set aside to gather for worship. No matter what day it fell on, they wanted to be together to sing, to read the Scriptures, and to be in awe together at what God had done by becoming one of us. In our tradition, we don't usually hold a worship service on December 25 if it's not on a Sunday. But this year it is on a Sunday. This year we have the opportunity join that ancient celebration and worship as we commemorate Jesus' birth.
If you're in the neighborhood, I hope you'll gather with us. If you'll be visiting somewhere else, I hope you'll gather with God's people there and join with us in Spirit as worship our Creator who took on the form and nature of a Creature.
Assistant Pastor Chad Baldanza serves in our JP/Roxbury congregation.