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Should We Go to Church When Christmas Falls on a Sunday?

Since Christmas is about Jesus, and believers historically meet on Sundays in remembrance of Jesus’ resurrection, then Christmas Sunday is a wonderful day to worship with other members of the church.

Should We Go to Church When Christmas Falls on a Sunday?

Christmas day falls on a Sunday this year. As the day when Christians have historically gathered to worship Jesus, Sunday is a perfect day to celebrate the birth of our Savior. However, with all the busy events and traveling to visit family and friends, believers may wonder if they should attend church services on Christmas Sunday.

In their recent article, Lifeway Research quoted a pastor who stated that, because of holiday travel, “the Sundays closest to Christmas and New Year’s Day are some of the lowest attended of the season.” Clearly, the busyness of the season interferes with regular church meetings.

Believers should carefully consider their choice about going to church on Christmas Sunday, seeking to approach this issue from a biblical and Christ-exalting perspective. Before you decide to skip church, take a look at these reasons why you should go to church, even if Christmas falls on a Sunday.

First-Century Believers Consistently Met Despite Work Obligations

In the early church, Christians regularly met together on Sundays for worship, fellowship, and biblical teaching (Acts 20:7). Although we might picture first-century believers meeting in buildings in the early morning like how we “go to church” in the 21st century, this is not so.

Employers expected them to work their jobs on Sunday even though Christians worshiped on this day each week in remembrance of the day Jesus was resurrected. Despite the taxing demands of work, these believers still met consistently on the Lord’s Day to worship together.

In contrast, many modern believers receive time off on Sunday and for the Christmas holiday (at least in the U.S. and most other Western countries). If the early believers could meet with one another after a full day of work, then why can’t we meet during a holiday?

We need to remember the admonition from the author of Hebrews: “let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25, NLT).

Sunday, the historical and biblical day that the church meets, is a great time to celebrate Jesus’ first coming when God the Son took on human flesh to redeem us.

Christmas Is about Jesus

Going to church, even if Christmas falls on a Sunday, is important because doing so helps remind us, and others, that Christmas is about Jesus. The holiday is not about ornaments, trees, festive lights, wrapped presents, candy, toys, a feast, or even about family.

As much as these aspects of the holiday season are enjoyable and nice, this should not be the focus of Christmas. Instead, meeting with other believers on Christmas Sunday can help us refocus on our Savior and King.

On the anniversary of our Savior’s birth, we benefit by reflecting on the wonder of His coming and the hope He brought to a dark world.

As John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

God, the glorious Creator of the universe, entered the world as a small infant, born of a virgin, and laid in a manger (Luke 1:34-35; 2:6-7). He is Immanuel — God with us (Matthew 1:23).

At His coming, Jesus also brought hope to the waiting remnant of Israel. As the angel, Gabriel, told Joseph, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Not only did He die to bring salvation to Israel, but to all people.

As Simeon prophesied at the temple, “He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” (Luke 2:32, NLT). Christ came to earth to bring hope and salvation.

On a day tangled with distractions, we can intentionally set our focus on the Lord by going to church and celebrating our Savior with other believers.

Not only do we give ourselves a much-needed reminder, but we also convey a message to those in the world. Jesus humbled Himself and came to earth to lovingly lay down His life for us (Philippians 2:6-8). This is the good news we cherish and proclaim.

As Christians, We Are Set Apart

A final reason why we should go to church this Christmas is that we are new creations, set apart for the glory of God. People should be able to distinguish us from the rest of the world because of our love, values, and actions (John 13:35; 1 John 3:18; 4:7). As salt and light of the world, we are ineffective if we live like everyone else (Matthew 5:13-15).

The Apostle Peter mentioned our special role as a people set apart for the Lord. As he wrote, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Since we have this special role as a people set apart in Christ, then we should not act like the rest of the world.

The worldly system encourages us to value consumerism on Christmas Sunday, but we can show others that we value our relationship with Christ by meeting with other believers. We have an eternal hope based securely on Christ, not on earthly treasure (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Examining the Question: What if We Don’t Attend?

Going to church does not determine if a person is saved or not. Only by trusting in Jesus’ death and resurrection is anyone saved (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). However, I think the question about attending church on Christmas Sunday reflects a person’s priorities.

First, if a church chooses not to meet on Christmas, then they convey a message to the watching world. On a day that is meant to exalt our Savior and King, church buildings are empty and quiet.

In contrast to the angels heralding the birth of Jesus, believers are silent. These actions tell the world that His first coming is not relevant or important to modern life.

Also, we might find comfort and convenience in staying home, and opening presents with family if we forgo church on Christmas.

However, we miss a wonderful opportunity to gather with the family of God and reflect on the perfect gift that we have already received. Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins and offer us eternal life.

As John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” No gift can compare to the salvation Jesus came to give us.

Another consequence we need to consider is that by not meeting with other believers on Christmas, we are unconsciously making the statement that festivities are more important than Jesus.

While we might not think or say this, the action of skipping church reveals that our priorities are not centered on Him. In focusing all our attention on the holiday season, we lose sight of what really matters and what the holiday truly means.

How Does This Apply to My Life?

Like many others, you may find yourself busy on Christmas. Especially since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, you might feel overwhelmed and stressed at the thought of adding “attend church” to your growing to-do list.

While the holiday season is often stressful, we need to take a step back and think. Despite what the world teaches, Christmas is about Jesus, and we are wise to focus our attention on Him, not the distractions of this world.

If you are making last-minute preparations for the holiday, then plan and see what you can complete in the days before Christmas. Also, if you are going to be out of town for Christmas, find another church to meet with on Christmas Sunday.

The same principle applies if your church decides not to hold services. Find another church to visit. You will be glad that you joined with other believers to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Let us not give up meeting together, even if Christmas falls on a Sunday. First-century believers were able to meet regularly during a busy work week. They met despite the challenges because they loved Christ more than anything else in this world.

Since Christmas is about Jesus, and believers historically meet on Sundays in remembrance of Jesus’ resurrection, then Christmas Sunday is a wonderful day to worship with other members of the church.

For further reading:

Why Is Christmas on December 25?

3 Ways to Keep Jesus at the Center of Your Christmas This Year

How You Can Have Genuine Joy and Hope this Christmas

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Kisa_Markiza


Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.