Now that the holidays are over and life has returned to a semblance of normality, I am reflecting upon what the holidays meant and what I can take with me into this new year.
This most recent Christmas (2011) was on a Sunday. Once again, discussions arose about what types of services should be held on "Christmas Sunday" and how many people would be likely to attend church service on Christmas morning. After all, won't everyone prefer to stay home, relax, and enjoy their Christmas gifts and their favorite breakfast foods...and grab another cup of coffee or hot cocoa?
Some churches abbreviated their services, others combined services, and a few simply cancelled services.
I didn't have a difficult time deciding what to do on that morning. I went to church.
I am aware, even though it's seldom spoken, of how my neighbors observe my regular attendance to church on Sundays. I can be relied upon to leave home at a certain time each Sunday morning. Others, especially those who don't attend services, notice my routine. I wanted my witness to remain intact.
I am aware I have more material belongings than many people in many other parts of the world. To a large degree, this is true because I was born at a certain time to certain people who lived in North America. I had nothing to do with any of those things. There was no loss to me in waiting to open Christmas gifts until after attending a worship service.
I am grateful for what Christmas means: God loved humanity enough to become one of us. That "becoming" event deserves commemoration and it deserves my acknowledgement by attending a service dedicated to celebrating that "becoming."
I reminded myself: there are twenty-four hours in each day, including Christmas. If I take two or three of those hours off to go to worship, I still have twenty-two or twenty-three hours left to open gifts, eat, look at Christmas decorations, etc.
I was reminded by another writer--- whose name, sadly, I have forgotten!--that Christmas isn't about goodies and the sentimentality of remembering past times and singing familiar songs. Christmas is about celebrating the chance we all have for a new beginning in God because God chose to become one of us. God's love honored us in this way, and I can return that honor by joining with others in regular worship.
Regular worship includes Christmas Sunday. Our small, sturdy gathering of true believers on Christmas Sunday was worth every minute.