Monday Ministerial Musings
By Rev. Mark William Ennis
2022 Blog #51
December 26, 2022
Church on Christmas Day? You Have To Be Kidding!
A week ago a friend and ministerial colleague posted a New York Times article on Facebook that discussed whether or not churches ought to hold Sunday services yesterday because it was Christmas Day. Apparently a number of churches are considering not having Sunday worship because of Christmas. Christmas Day has not fallen on a Sunday in quite a number of years. I rather enjoyed going to church on Christmas morning on the occasions that Sunday and Christmas Day fall on the same day. When my daughter pastored a Lutheran church I enjoyed visiting her on Christmas morning. They held a communion service every Christmas and I really enjoyed it.
According to the New York Times article, those churches who were planning to hold worship on Sunday were doing so because it is Sunday and they worship on Sunday. Period! Why should they stop having Sunday worship because it is Christmas? An elder of mine who was raised catholic told me that when he was a boy, Christmas Day was considered a “day of obligation.” Christians were expected to go to church on Christmas Day, no matter what day of the week that it fell on. When did this practice fall out of being a common obligation?
The New York Times reports that Churches who are did not hold worship on Christmas Day were cancelling because of the potential for “low attendance.” When did that ever stop the church? As religiosity declines in the United States, many of us deal with low attendance on a weekly basis. When did low attendance ever stop us?
When my friend and ministerial colleague, Rev. Rhonda Meyers, posted this New York Times article on Facebook she wrote the following personal comment, “…But just as I once said resurrection prayers for a funeral no one attended, I will lead worship on the Lord’s Day even if there are few in attendance. What better way to celebrate the gift of the incarnation than to worship God with songs of joy and words of praise.”
Does large attendance really matter or is Christmas a “Day of Obligation” for Christians regardless of congregational size? I wonder if perhaps in the future, all congregations ought to consider worship on Christmas Day regardless what day of the week that it falls on.