Daily Devotional for Thursday December 8, 2005

Closed on Christmas Sunday

(Psalms 122:1; Hebrews 10:25; Luke 2:15)

I thought I heard it all. I really thought that after everything I see and hear each day, made it impossible for me to be shocked any longer. Boy was I wrong! Last week, I started getting emails from people asking me what I thought about the fact their church was going to be closed on Christmas, since this year Christmas is on a Sunday. I assumed that these were isolated cases of some very misguided pastors. Now, each day I am getting more and more of these emails about churches being closed on Christmas Sunday, and it is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed. Please understand me, we are not talking about businesses closing on Christmas, we are talking about CHURCHES!

This only makes my point when last week I addressed this "controversy" surrounding secular department stores that won't say "Merry Christmas." We, as Believers, are outraged at a lost world who won't celebrate and promote the birth of the Jesus they reject, yet, the very churches that are God's instruments on this earth for that purpose choose to close because Christmas is on a Sunday! As I have stated often, rather than influencing our world, we have allowed this world to influence us!

I have been on the phone the past few days speaking to a few pastors who have decided NOT to hold services on Christmas Sunday. In fairness to them, I really wanted to hear their heart and reasoning for making this decision. I had to assume that there was something I was missing. In each case, I heard the same basic reasons for not holding services on Christmas Day. "It is a day for families to be together." "We need so many people to logistically be able to hold services, and wanted those people to be able to have the day off with their families." "Not enough people come out to service when Christmas is on a Sunday."

PARDON ME, BUT YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! Even though Christmas is less than 3 weeks away, I am going to secure space in a local hotel and have a service this Christmas morning. If the churches want to close and take a "day off," that is up to them. I am going to make sure the people in the Tampa area know there is a place for them and their family to come on Christmas morning to celebrate the birth of Jesus, which is what Christmas is all about! Look for an announcement on Friday for the details of the service Liveprayer will have on Christmas morning!

These pastors I spoke to are right about one thing. It IS a day for families and there is NO BETTER PLACE for a family to start their Christmas Day celebration than at church! As for the people who serve their churches in so many different capacities on Sunday, what better way to spend a few hours on the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus than by serving Him! Lastly, since when was opening the doors of the church about how may showed up? The reality is, Christmas and Easter are the two time of the year a HUGE portion of people who call themselves Christmas ever darken the doorstep of a church. It is also the time of year many who are not Believers have a desire to be in church. Other than Easter Sunday, Christmas is the greatest evangelistic opportunity of the year!!!

I would like to encourage any pastors out there who have planned to close your church down on Christmas Sunday, PRAY ABOUT THIS AGAIN! Having Christmas on a Sunday is gift from God and rather than closing, you should be having EXTRA services!!! This should not only be a time of great celebration for your church family, but for your community. Don't you realize that in EVERY family there are people who are lost and without the hope we have in Jesus? If there was EVER a day to get that family member in church it is on Christmas Sunday!

In addition to holding services for your church family, you need to hold services for your community. Again, there are more people than you realize who profess to being a Christian who will only go to church on Easter and Christmas. In addition, there are those who are not saved, who spent their childhood in church and Christmas is the one day of the year that are open to coming to church. Every church should be advertising and promoting in their community their Christmas Day services, knowing that you will have people come just because it is Christmas. This is the day you bring out your best salvation message and give those who come an opportunity to accept Christ as their Savior!

Let me encourage you today that if your church is "closed on Christmas," don't let that stop you from going to a service and celebrate the birth of our Lord this Christmas Day. Get your family, get your neighbors, load up the car and find a church that is open and holding services on Christmas morning. If there was EVER a day to be in church it is Christmas Day. There is NO BETTER WAY for you to celebrate this blessed event than by being in God's house.

I love you and care about you so much. I am praying today for those pastors who have made the decision to close their churches on Christmas to reconsider this horrible decision. You are missing one of the greatest opportunities ever to do what God has called you to do. I am praying today for those pastors who will be holding services this Christmas, to do all you can to encourage your church family and the community to come out and attend this wonderful celebration of our Lord's birth.

I am also praying for each person who is reading this today to make the time on Christmas morning to go to church, take as many of your family and friends as you can, and experience the great joy in celebrating that wonderful event that took place over 200 years ago in Bethlehem when God sent the greatest gift ever to this world--Jesus! There is no greater time to be in church than on Christmas Sunday celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!!