Deuteronomy 5:12-15 – Did Christmas Trump Church?

Posted: December 26, 2016 in 05-Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Keep the Sabbath and Make It Holy

Yesterday was a unique Sunday in Christmas Day fell on a Sunday. One would think that it would happen every 7 years but that is not the case. With Christmas being a fixed date and with leap years and all, it takes a mathematician or a very bored person on Christmas break to figure it out. There is a twenty-eight year cycle that is required to establish the pattern. Within that cycle, Christmas will fall on Sunday 4 times. Only four times in 28 years and then the calendar cycle repeats itself. Yesterday, it seemed as though Christmas being on a Sunday was an inconvenience to many. Church attendance was down at our church. It was expected by us on the staff at the church. That is why we only had one service yesterday and it was a scaled back, acoustic only production with a shorter than usual message from our lead pastor. Even then, we were only at 50% of capacity for the one service. Sure, we had Christmas Eve services on Friday night and two services on Saturday, so that might explain the reduced attendance on Sunday. But I am sure that there were many of our faithful at LifeSong that did not attend church at any of our services between Friday and Sunday because of Christmas trumping church. Isn’t there a great irony in me making that statement, “Christmas trumping church.”


Sunday is the Christian Sabbath day. Christmas is the day that we, as Christians, have chosen to annually celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It would seem that Sunday would be the ideal day to celebrate Christmas. It is the holy day of the week to us as Christians and then Christmas is one of the two holiest days of the Christian calendar along with Easter. However, yesterday, for many of us, church was something we had to fit in the schedule if we made it all to church. The irony of it all was not lost on me yesterday as we scurried off to church. At church we had a skeleton crew because many of our staff and volunteers were either not in town (our area now is as much people from somewhere else as it is people who have grown up here) or had family obligations or were on vacation. Many ministry leaders at our church (like many others I am sure) had to scramble to fill slots with volunteers. Then, after church on Christmas Sunday, we much like anyone else, worked diligently to get ready for a family celebration. Not that any of these things are bad. Christian values include placing a high priority on family and certainly part of Christmas is reconnecting with family. However, it did give me pause yesterday to think how the act of Christmas get-togethers among families or even the Christmas morning act with our own immediate families around our tree was often more important than the Christian Sabbath. Please don’t get me wrong, this writing is just an observance of the oddity of Christmas on a Sunday and not condemnation. It is, to me, a quandry of what to do on these four Sundays in the 28 year cycle where Christmas falls on a Sunday.


How do we reconcile the two? I think the answer lies in the passage for today, Deuteronomy 5:12-15. Let’s read through it today:


12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.


I think the way that we as Christians reconcile our family commitments and our travels on Christmas Day when it falls on Sunday is that we must make the reason for Christmas a priority. We must make Christmas a celebration of the birth of our Savior first and foremost on Christmas Sunday (and any other Christmas day for that matter). If we have made church something we add into our daily lives rather the central focus of it, then, Christmas on a Sunday is an inconvenience. If our journey with Jesus is a box that we open up on Sunday and put back on the shelf the rest of the week, then, Christmas on a Sunday is an inconvenience. If the fellowship of the saints (church) is an integral part of our lives, if our relationship with Jesus Christ is a priority, then, we see Christmas on a Sunday as pretty darn awesome. It is the day of the week that we designate to corporately worship God as Christians, Sunday, and then add in that it is the day of the year that we have chosen to celebrate the birth of the whole reason for being Christian, Jesus Christ, then, what could be more special.


To worship God for what He has done through Jesus Christ. God in the flesh. Immanuel. God with us! He broke into human history so that He could live the perfect life, the sinless life, so that He could be the sacrifice for sin to end all sacrifices for sin. He came and lived among us. He experienced everything that we experience. He experienced pain and suffering as we experience it. He experienced joy and laughter as we experience it. He experienced birth and death as we experience it. He experienced every emotion that we experience it. He knows our existence. Yet, He was without sin and His sinless life, death on a cross, and resurrection reconciles us to the Father. On Christmas, we celebrate that most important beginning to His time among us that changed the world. We celebrate Jesus every Sunday but to be able to celebrate it on the Christian Sabbath day is a double dip! It is the cake and eat it too!


May we honor God every day. May we take time out as a priority once per week to celebrate what God has done May we on the Sabbath take pause from madness of life to worship Him. May we four times each 28 years, make celebrating the birth of Jesus Christmas on a Sunday a priority that trumps everything else. May we figure out ways to place that Sunday at church as the thing that we schedule around rather than force into our schedule. Make we make the Christmas Sabbath the unique calendar twist that it is and schedule all else around it.


Amen and Amen.

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