I was recently with a friend who told me the following story?
Friend’s Friend: Do you want to come to church with us on Christmas Eve?
Friend: Oh that time doesn’t work for us.
Friend’s Friend: Oh, do you want to come to a later time?
Friend: No, if we go it will have to just be on that Sunday.
Friend’s Friend: What? You have to go to church on Christmas Eve! Christmas is not about Santa - you know that right? It’s about going to church.
(That’s a rough summary of the conversation.)
Most of us don’t agree with that I’m sure. But here’s the irony. The entire Christmas story is about one thing: the divine in the human. The sacred in the secular. A smack over the head of God in humanity. Nothing is explicitly ordinary and thus, nothing is explicitly sacred.
So… the point of the Christmas story is actually that you don’t have to go to “church” anymore at all. Ever. Especially on the day that celebrates that point in a pretty outlandish story kind of way. Because it turns out that God was just born in a barn to some poor refugees - not in the temple.
Yes, the irony.