Every local church had a big decision to make in 2016: Will we gather for worship on Sunday, December 25, or not? There are valid points to argue on both sides of that decision and ultimately Resurrection Church made the call to worship on Thursday and Friday before Christmas Day instead of gathering on Sunday. This decision, however, was not made with the thought in mind that we would simply “get church out of the way” early in the week so we could move on and keep December 25 free for all the “other stuff.”
The local church where we gather for worship should not be the only place/space in our lives where gathering for the purpose of worshiping Christ happens. Our homes, family times, and fellowship with believing friends should also be times of worship and collective focus on God. So my challenge to you is this. Don’t let Sunday, December 25, 2016 be a worship-less, God-less, Christ-less day for you and yours. Be intentional and do your best to make it a Christ-filled, worship-filled day!
How can we do that? Reading Scripture, praying, and singing together are some great ways to saturate your celebration of Christmas with worship of Jesus. I encourage you to make an intentional effort to weave those elements into every facet of your celebration. Here are some examples of what that might look like:
- When everyone wakes up Christmas morning, emphasize the lighting of the Christmas tree. Evergreen trees are a symbol of eternal life. Martin Luther introduced them to the Reformation Church as a picture of our endless life in Christ, by bringing in a tree to his family on Christmas Eve lit with candles. As you light the tree, pause to read one or more of the following Scriptures: John 3:16; John 10:27-30; 1 John 2:17; Psalm 139:23-24; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Then, pray and give thanks to God for eternal life!
- If you light candles, have someone read John 8:12 as they’re being lit. Let the lighting of candles prompt you to give thanks to Jesus who is the light of the world.
- If you have holly around the house, and/or a lot of the color red in your decorations, remember that holly speaks of the thorns in Jesus’ crown and that the color red can remind us of Jesus’ blood and death for our sins. If you light a fire in the fireplace, the yule log has been a symbol of the cross. Carrying the log to the fireplace can remind us of Christ who carried His cross to Golgotha. Read Matthew 27:27-30 and John 19:17 together. Pray and give thanks for Christ’s sacrifice that brought you life! Consider taking Communion together.
- As you give and receive gifts, remember the gifts of the Magi to baby Jesus. Each of them speak to a component of His incarnation: Majesty in life (frankincense), Bitterness and Agony in Death (myrrh) , and Him as God’s perfect gift to us (gold). During the gift exchange read Matthew 2:1-12.
- Mistletoe was an ancient symbol from the Roman times. It was under Mistletoe that old enmities and broken friendships were restored. If you have mistletoe hanging, point it out and remember that it was Christ who took away the enmity and gave us Peace with God. Bells are associated with ringing out news. Christ is the good news, the best news of all! Read Ephesians 2:1-10; Romans 5:1; and Romans 8:1 and celebrate the Good News of reconciliation with God through Christ Jesus.
- When you sit down to feast this Christmas, pause to remember that we are headed toward The Great Feast! Before you say the blessing over your food, read Revelation 19:6-9 together.