To Attend, or To Not Attend

This originally appeared as an email delivered on
Saturday, December 24th, 2022.

Christmas is on Sunday this year.

This means the tension between belief and the belly will once again strain the cultural Christian’s conscience.

To attend, or to not attend (church). That is the question.

Oddly enough those who invented the “Christian day” (Catholics, Orthodox, etc) have no question. Attendance is required in those churches out of religious necessity. If they fail to attend, they are breaking the rule.

It is churches that esteem the day, but give liberty as to its practice that are having a real test of faith (e.g., evangelicals, Protestants, Baptists, Jesus followers).

For years Romans 14:5-6 has been trotted out to defend “esteeming one day above another” as “regarding the day unto the Lord” (even though Paul was speaking of Jewish days and describes those esteeming days as weak). “Jesus is the reason for the season!”

What the social scientists know (but many Christians do not want to admit) is that the day is kept more for family, food, and fuzzy slippers than hailing incarnate deity.

Many leaders are cancelling church tomorrow due to their holy day at home and/or expected low attendance.

Their dispute is not about whether the day is special, but around the requirements necessary to keep the day special. Does keeping Christmas require keeping church? Time to consult church fathers Lewis or Dickens.

Those of us who know better than to worship a day, nor partake in the pagan/secular/religious mishmash that defines the season, have no dilemma.

What is manifest by the public predicament are the priorities and purposes of people’s hearts. This is true no matter what day of the year it is, and whatever is, at that time, fighting for the Christian’s attention.

Days are not special in this dispensation, nor does it fall on the church to esteem one day above another, but to call the faithful to be just that. If we cancel meetings tomorrow, it will be due to snow and ice, not silver bells and tinsel.

For Grace and Truth,

Justin “stop the snow” Johnson

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