I was in one of our churches on a Sunday several weeks ago and a group of us were talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas, both just around the corner. Suddenly the pastor shared with us a revelation that he had discovered. He said, “This year, Sunday comes on Christmas.” Most of us in the group nodded but one of the folks took exception and gently corrected him by saying, “No, Christmas comes on Sunday, not Sunday comes on Christmas.” The pastor thoughtfully nodded but most of us were like him, thinking it through. Which one was actually correct? Does Sunday come on Christmas, or does Christmas come on Sunday? The more I thought about it, I concluded both are true. Then I came to a more important thought, at least for me, that it does not matter whichever or whatever. The truth is that this year it’s the same day and we need to celebrate both days.
The Christmas celebration is about God giving His Son to be our Savior. We celebrate Christmas Sunday, but all year long we celebrate the resurrected, living Christ who comes to walk among us, bless us, save us, help us, heal us, and love us. Sunday is the Lord’s Day, Resurrection Day, the proclamation of Emmanuel God is with us. Week after week, we are reminded, encouraged, and uplifted as we meet to worship.
Because Christmas and Sunday fall on the same day this year, December 25, it is important that we stop and think about what we are going to do on that day because it will be different. While you’ve got a few days to prepare, think about the difficulties that come in many families. So many families follow a somewhat rigid pattern of tradition in their home on Christmas morning. It may involve the kids who are anxiously, excitedly getting up before the crack of dawn and opening presents and enjoying a feast of toys. For some it involves a special Christmas morning breakfast that may be different from other days and other seasons.
For others, it is a pause in the midst of all the excitement to think about what the first Christmas was actually like. The reading of the Christmas story may be a part, or the singing of a few Christmas carols, but this year if you do all of those things and then go to the morning worship service at your church it’s going to require a little bit of coordination and preparation because by the time you get to church, if you get there, all of the kids will be in bad humor and mom and dad may think they should have all stayed home.
I’m just pointing out that there are difficulties you need to think through, and you can. You can enhance Christmas rather than destroy your Christmas Day. That brings me to suggest some delights instead of some difficulties that you can include in your Christmas. If on Christmas morning you do gather around the tree and open gifts and celebrate the joys and excitement of a child’s Christmas, encourage the children involved to plan on acting out the real Christmas. For instance, mom and dad could dress in a manner similar to Mary and Joseph and go to the Sunday morning Christmas event at church. Let the children in their own unique way dress up as one of the first Christmas biblical characters and arrive to participate. It will take them some time to get their stuff together, so maybe they can come in their attire and everyone else can guess who they are. If you do that, be prepared for whatever they may have in their creative and devious little minds.
You remember the old story about the person who dressed up like a fireman at the manger scene? When asked why he was dressed like that, he replied, “Well, the Bible says that the wise men came from ‘a-far.’” (That’s Southern for “a fire”). If kids be kids, no telling what they might come up with for shepherds or wise men. Some of them may show up as a farm animal. Not everyone can do this, but some families and some kids would look back on that with absolute joy and delight in the years to come. Pictures from that Christmas morning on Sunday might be the most interesting of all. I encourage you to keep it as positive and lighthearted and meaningful as possible and not allow it to turn into a forced event, or this Christmas might be the worst ever.
The last thing I want to mention is to make this Christmas distinctive. In a family’s lifetime the youngsters will not have many Christmases that fall on Sunday, so make it distinctive, good, and a blessing. It may be possible that the distinctive of living out the characters will even be brought into the church if everyone is encouraged to come as a wise man or a shepherd or Mary or some of the related characters that come into the story. If so, church attendance would be an interesting, creative event for everyone who was prepared for it and especially for those who may be visiting at your church on Sunday morning. It is far better to come to church with a little bit of excitement and anticipation than with a scowl on your face and dreading to be there. Make it distinctive but more importantly, make it meaningful. The most important thing is, don’t miss Christmas. Don’t miss Sunday because it falls on Christmas. Don’t miss Christmas because it falls on Sunday.
Years ago, I read an article about a passenger ship that was filled with people who happened to be traveling the wrong direction when they crossed that imaginary point known as the International Date Line. Because they were going the wrong way, they went from December 24 to December 26 and missed a whole day. An announcement came on the ship’s public address system saying, “There will be no Christmas this year,” the reason being they had moved the wrong direction.
In all the rush to get everything else done, don’t get so burdened and overloaded with things that you miss out on the heart of Christmas: a meeting with Jesus.
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