Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. And the internet is all a-fluster with pastors fretting over what to do about their Sunday morning service.
Their concern isn’t unfounded. What happens when people are faced with the Christmas morning choice of either:
1) the primary family practice of Christmas morning… loved ones gathering around the Christmas tree to open presents, to share meals and spend the day together, or
2) going to church for an 11 o’clock service?
History promises that many people, having attended church the evening before, opt to stay home. I have even seen on the internet that some congregations are canceling their Sunday services.
Old First will gather on Sunday morning at 11. We might have an almost normal crowd. Or we might be just an intrepid few. But it’s a mainstay of our Protestant faith that if even just two or three are gathered, Jesus is also present. No matter who shows up, together we will be the church at worship.
I am planning a sort of informal service for Sunday. We’ll play it by ear depending on how many people join us. But, weather permitting, we’ll spend some morning time by the creche. And I thinks I’ll have a retelling of the holy story a la Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath,” that will partner well with Jesus in the barnyard with the animals… and maybe help us think about the story new again.
If you will be staying home, those of us gathered in the Sanctuary will include you in our thoughts and prayers.
But you could, observing Sunday morning, make your Christmas home-observance of the holy day special too. No, you don’t need an organ and the full choir belting out the Hallelujah Chorus!
But you might add sacred music to your gift opening.
Or maybe you could all read the prologue to John’s Gospel (1:1-18) before opening presents?
Another possibility is actualy praying a bit more than just a blessing over the meal. Could you include prayers of thanksgiving for God’s gifts and the gifts that other people offer you; prayers for friends and family and people in our world in special need this Christmas season; prayers for your own need? You could really get daring and include confession!
Beloved, Christmas happens wherever we find ourselves — literally and figuratively. That’s part of its good news! Because it’s more about God’s free love for us rather than our doing anything to earn it. Still, it often helps… changes us when we get intentional about getting past ourselves and paying attention to God. May I ask you to try that wherever and with whomever you find yourself on Christmas morning?
Because God has blessed us all.