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An inconvenient Christmas

This Nativity is part of the collection in the Nativity Museum maintained by First United Methodist Church in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Photo by Kathryn Price.

Photo by Kathryn Price

This Nativity is part of the collection in the Nativity Museum maintained by First United Methodist Church in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Soon we will be singing Advent hymns in our churches and wondering where this passing year has gone.

December 25th falls on a Sunday this year, and I am already hearing questions about having worship services on Christmas Day. I’ve fielded such comments as:

“It is so inconvenient when Christmas is on a Sunday.”

“No one comes, and people are tired from the Christmas Eve services the night before.”

I have been asked if it would be alright to cancel church services on Christmas Day and perhaps even on New Year’s Day a week later, since the same kind of holiday issues exist. Few churches observe a Watch Night service, however; so the New Year’s Day concern is more about late-night celebrations than holy exhaustion.

It is true that attendance is typically low on a Christmas Sunday. Some churches have opted to have one short service with coffee and cinnamon rolls. And I’ve heard of at least one church inviting people to attend services in their pajamas.

All of this says that Christmas, when it falls on a Sunday, is inconvenient to many, and we are trying to find ways to make it work for us. Family gatherings and a million other holiday festivities compete with worship on that day.

But I call on all of our churches to persevere and continue to hold services in some fashion on Sunday, December 25. It is, after all, the celebration of Christ’s birth.

The truth is, Christmas, the real Christmas, has never been convenient. The birth of Christ came amid a time of political unrest. The Jews were an oppressed people under the cruel domination of Rome. The religious leaders were for the most part self-seeking, wealthy intellectuals who were more interested in maintaining the status quo than taking any prophetic stands on justice.

Jesus’ birth was inconvenient

The circumstances of Jesus’ birth were certainly less than convenient. This Galilean couple made a hundred-mile trek across rough, unpaved roads, as the new mother-to-be rode perched on a donkey in her third trimester of pregnancy.

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On September 1, 2008, Bishop Johnson began her assignment to lead nearly 900 churches in The Philadelphia Area, comprised of the Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conferences. Bishop Johnson believes in the inclusion of persons with disabilities, “not just to receive, but to be co-ministers with us in the priesthood of all believers! Visit the conference website.