No church, it’s Christmas

In the last few days, I’d been hearing something counterintuitive from D.C. area pastors: Some churches were canceling services this … Continued

In the last few days, I’d been hearing something counterintuitive from D.C. area pastors: Some churches were canceling services this Sunday, in honor of Christmas.

Yes, that’s right. Because so many people — parishioners and church staff — want to spend the whole precious day off with their families, some churches were going to cancel services. Or they were bracing for low turnout, maybe putting their JV-string of clergy out there for the smaller crowd.

The data confirm it: Almost 10 percent of Protestant pastors told Lifeway Research they were canceling this year because the holiday falls on a Sunday. The poll, done last month, shows a variety of schedules churches have for holiday services.

A different study by Lifeway last year said 74 percent of Americans strongly or somewhat agree that “Christmas is primarily a day for religious celebration and observance,” while 67 percent agreed that “many of the things I enjoy during the Christmas season have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ.”

There’s no question that Americans’ bond with institutional religion has been weakening in recent decades; in other words, there are tens of millions of Americans who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ but rarely if ever go to church. Including on Christmas.

But is that what we should see in canceled Christmas services?

Longtime religion reporter David Gibson has a thoughtful meditation on how Christians have marked the holiday in recent centuries, showing Christmas Day services haven’t always been the only norm, and how gift-giving and reindeer got into it.

Let us know if you have anything thought-provoking to say about churches canceling services Sunday.

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  • yeswecan3

    My church is having service and I’m glad about it.

  • webdevgal

    But .. its Christmas Day … why wouldn’t folks go to service? Unless the congregations feel the churches have gotten too political and just don’t have the same meaning they used to.

  • The-Historian

    OH My God! It’s a christian WAR on Christmas!!
    Where’s O’Really when you need him!
    Good Lord what is the world coming to!

  • The-Historian

    This reminds me of a trip to England at Easter time several years ago. I was visiting a large beautiful church known for its choir. I asked the minister what time the choir sang, he looked at me and in a some what insulting voice said there would be no choir because they were on holiday …. who knew …. on Easter.

  • me1234meb

    for sure . . . if no pre-christmas services, then question follows (most exquisitely), ‘why should there be christmas services?

  • unitcaptain11

    This is fine of course, unless these are some of the wacko churches that cry about secular Christmas. Then it would be hilarious.

  • AnthonyR1978

    Why is this a big deal? What matters in the Protestant tradition of Christianity is your belief in god, not your works or how many times you go to church.

  • aristotlegleuteusmaximus

    Wikipedia, that all knowing, infallible fount of knowledge, says the New Testament does not give a date for the birth of Jesus. Youse Christmas celebrating holy people are worshiping the word of man, not god.

  • dennis7

    When reading comments here I have often thought that many of the writers reallly don’t understand religion or the teachings of the various faiths. These reponses confirm that. Most Christians do recognize Christmas as the day the Christian church celebrates the birth of Christ. I don’t know of any churches that will be dark and quiet. I will say that the majority of churchgoers now go on Christmas Eve, many churches have multiple Christmas Eve services which are often full, if not packed. My church will be having 4 services on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas morning, because it is Sunday. According to Jewish reckoning, the day begins at sundown of the day before. Christians have accepted this too. Therefore, any service after sundown on Christmas Eve is technically Christmas. (Remember, the Jewish sabbath beings on FRIDAY at sundown.)

  • dennis7

    They are probably not going on Christmas Day because they have packed the church on Christmas Eve. Haven’t you heard of Candlelight Christmas Eve Services or Midnight Mass or Family Serices of Carols and Lessons, etc.?

  • gregmac2347

    I am a missionary in the Philippines. On the island of Mindanao, where we have experienced devastating flooding that has killed more than 1,000 and with another 1,000 missing and presumed dead, I can assure you that we will not only hold church services on Sunday, but most of our churches will be full to capacity. For the survivors, it will be their way of praising God for his mercy. And we will pray for the souls of the dead. Most of us have suspended our Christmas celebration this year. But we will never suspend our belief in our God and in our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • ottobord

    From Raiders of the Lost Church Blog

    No Church on Christmas Sunday: A Poem

    T’was the Sunday of Christmas, when all through God’s house

    Not a preacher was stirring, not even his spouse;

    The choir robes were hung in the closet with care,

    Little hope that the singers soon would be there;

    The saints were all home in their casual threads,

    Presents from Santa filling their heads;

    The deacons, relieved, free now to nap,

    Hoping no one comes to worship just by hap,

    When out in the lot there arose such a clatter,

    No church member there to see what was the matter.

    A two wheeler pulled in as quick as a Flash,

    Since no cars were there, he avoided a crash.

    The tattoo on his neck, he tried not to show

    Gives the impression of a man whose destiny is woe,

    When, what to his bloodshot eyes should appear,

    A small sign that reads, “Christmas is not here”

    Motorcyclist was he, so rough yet so quick,

    He knew in a moment, this wasn’t a trick.

    More rapid than a Harley, his transgressions they came,

    He shouted, and cried, and he called them by name;

    “Now, Heroin! Now, Booze! Now, Lust and some Hash!

    Oh snorting! Oh fighting! And stealing hard cash!

    To the top of the steeple! To the fellowship hall!

    He cried, ‘ Go away! Go away! Go away all!'”

    A life so destroyed, fearing he may die,

    His sins, with no obstacle, mount to the sky,

    And so to God’s house for a remedy he flew,

    The advice of his aunt, the only family he knew.

    And then, in a twist, he heard in his head

    The familiar voice of the prince of the dead.

    “What are you thinking? There’s no turning around,

    For someone like you who’s sins do abound.

    Your dressed in a suit from your head to your foot,

    Where are your chains, your leather, your boots?

    The skull and crossbones you wore like a plaque,

    That’s who you are… you can always come back.

    Look at yourself! You look like a fool!

    Everyone knows Christmas on Sunday’s not cool!”

    The man scratched his head, as this seemed so odd,

    Wasn’t Christmas explained in the Word of God;

    He hung his head low as he stood in defeat?

    “I came here exp

  • AuburnWaChurch

    We are going to have church on Sunday in Auburn Wa! . Celebrate someone’s birthday but not go to their house?? No way!

  • dgarcia1

    The reason most churches cancelled Christmas Day services is because most of them already offer a Christmas EVE service. If you kept both, you’d have families attending church twice in twelve hours, and then when would they find time to worship and celebrate on their own? This is yet another example of poor fact gathering and conclusion jumping by the Post.

  • lfreeman0983

    My pastor at Reid Temple A.M.E. church in Silver Spring, Maryland has told us for the last 3-4 weeks that we are still having service on the birth of Jesus Christ and that we better show up. He does not joke when he says that he will call you out if you’re not in church this Sunday. So if you are looking for a church to attend because yours decided to shut down, then join us in person or online. You will not be disappointed!

  • maryjoekrby

    When Christmas falls on the Sabbath Day, it is still the Sabbath, and a Commandment to keep it Holy. It is not only a day of physical rest, but spiratual as well. Singing with a Congregation, “Joy to the World” or “Silent Night” makes Christmas! Otherwise, why have a church if you close on Sunday. Especially when it’s the acknowledged Birthday of Jesus Christ. “Oh come let us adore him, Christ the Lord…”

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