I'm sure you have heard the joke about the guy who didn't like going to church. It goes something like this:
Joe told his wife, "I don't like going to church. The service starts too early, the people never say hello to me, and some even make me do things I don't want to do." It's just better for me to stay home and watch a TV evangelist." She looked at him sternly and said, "You have to go to church, you're the pastor!" Apparently, Joe forgot his calling wasn't about him; it was about loving Jesus and people.
We laugh and could probably apply this joke to many professions. Funny how we tend to forget why we do what we do. If you're a pastor, then shepherd and lead. If you're a nurse, then care and help patients. If you're a garbage collector, then serve with distinction and so on and so forth.....
The Christmas story in Luke 2 recounts the shepherds out in the fields tending their flocks by night. Working the night shift ain't fun and I speak from experience on this one. Your body doesn't know whether it should be sleeping, working, or some other survival function. Most people I know don't volunteer to work the 11 to 7 shift. Usually, this timeslot is given (forced upon) the low person on the ladder. It is well documented how low shepherds were viewed on society's ladder. The shepherds understood the job wasn't about them, it was about caring for the lambs and sheep.
Yesterday, we were expecting a delivery from the company that has the big brown trucks and the tracking information assured us the package would arrive. I arrived home from the office in the afternoon and still no package. I waited and waited. Six o'clock came and went; we ate supper and I resigned to the fact the package wasn't coming today. Nothing wrong with that. It was not a make or break delivery. I wasn't upset.
About 7:40 PM, a knock landed on the front door. Tracie answered it and there were the guys from the big brown truck with package in hand. They told her that their work wasn't done yet. They figured to be done around 10:30 that night.....Certainly, these folks are being well compensated but to what end? Are their families at home waiting? How is the wear and tear on their bodies affecting them? How productive can one be after 14-16 hours on the job? These delivery men understand the job isn't about them, it is about their customers.
In the last several weeks, the debate has raged within the Church on whether we should or should not have Christmas services on 'Christmas Day'. Some churches want to offer grace and cancel services so families can enjoy the gift of Jesus in their homes. Other churches are going full steam ahead with regularly scheduled services. Still other churches are holding services on Sunday with an adjusted schedule. Sadly, people are getting genuinely angry at one another over these decisions. Accusations of legalism and heresy are thrown around. Sunday is the day we gather as the body of Christ to worship and glorify the Lord. It is important, or at least it should be. Folks, Christmas isn't about our comfort; it isn't about us. Christmas is about Jesus.
We will be holding an adjusted schedule on Christmas day. We believe our call to discipleship means we are obedient. We understand worship to be about God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and are willing to bear this cross well. We understand Jesus to be the one from whom we take our marching orders.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:34-38, NIV)
Do you grumble when you have to go to church on Christmas day? Is it inconvenient for you to fit worship into your too busy schedule? Maybe you're too busy. Will your visiting family wonder where you went Sunday morning? If your faith isn't focused fully on Jesus Christ, then you might want to reevaluate your faith. Oh, and bring your visiting family to church with you. It will be fun! It isn't about us; it's about Him.