Tuesday, December 16, 2008


With this being the Christmas season and all the conversation of many Christians turns to how secular the season has become. What I find interesting is that the question of whether we as believers should even celebrate Christmas is rarely asked and if one does ask the question is not often appreciated. Now this journey to see God’s desire for this time of year is one my family and I am have been on for the last few years. I also think this is an area that we need to show grace in regardless of our conclusions because hundreds of years of tradition are difficult to wade through. For me as a Pastor I also need to make sure that my personal convictions do not hinder the use of this season to express the need to worship more consistently. I above all things see this conversation revolving around what is and what is not the worship that God not only desires but prescribes. How are we to worship God and where do we find this worship, in our traditions, in the Word of God or some amalgamation of both.

If we truly want to be “bible believing” Christians that see not only the inerrancy but the sufficiency of scripture in all areas of life we need to ask if scripture warrants or calls for a celebration of the birth of our savior and is that celebration to come at a specific time of the year. Keep in mind that if the final conclusion one comes up with is that we are not to celebrate Christmas that does not mean one is disregarding the birth of the savior. It simply means that one sees the celebration of the traditional idea of Christmas as not a biblical mandate. I would go further to say that even if ones conclusion is that the celebration of Christmas is allowed by scripture we need to re-evaluate how we worship in an unbalanced manner. By unbalanced I mean, why do we make much of celebrating the birth of our savior once a year when we should recognize His coming to live among men every day. Why would we not in our corporate gatherings worship Jesus Christ as heartily 52 weeks a year as we would for the 4 weeks or so at the end of the year? I would even go as far as to say why do we put such effort into this one season of the year and comparatively so little effort into the celebration of the Lord’s table as it truly is, I think, the most worshipful event we can partake in as it celebrates both the birth and death of our savior in one activity.

It seems to me that Christians create an atmosphere that tells people that this time of year is more important than all other times with the effort we put out, along with Easter. But should we not worship every day as we do this time of year. Should we not celebrate the Lords’ table each week as a sign of our devotion and love for the one that came to live a perfect life among us sinners to be the perfect sacrifice to die for those that would call upon His name. Should we not offer up our praise more than once or twice a year and would not our consistent worship reflect more love for our Savior to the world than a once or twice a year production?

Most know of the background that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday (Saturnalia), and is rapidly returning to its roots, that the church took over so as to minimize the pagan celebrations. I realize this is a very over simplified rendition but it is the gist of the matter. I would say that in and of itself should not be enough to prohibit someone from worshipping on the 25th. I am sure that many pagans worship, check out how filled sporting venues are, on Sundays in their way but I will still worship on the Lord’s Day. It should be realized that the name itself, Christ-mass, is something that we should at the least wince a little at as protestants since we should have an aversion to the idea of the “mass.” There is much that can and has been written on this and I will list some below but at the end of the day we have to answer to scripture as that needs to be the final court of arbitration with regards to Christmas.

My goal here is not to necessarily sway anyone but to spur others on to investigate what they believe and why. At the end of the day we need to turn to His word to see how God wants to be worshipped. Many will say it is all about the heart but while that is true there is more as the heart reveals itself in actions. Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:1-2) may have had a good heart but they offered up strange fire and suffered for it. Saul could not wait for Samuel (1 Sam 10:8; 1 Sam 13:-14) and may have thought it was a good thing to offer up a sacrifice but God did not think so. I would even go as far as to say the issue with Cain’s offering was not just about his heart but also about what he offered ( Gen 4:5). Worship is about both what we do and the focus of our heart and without the two being acceptable to God, as defined by His Word, our worship is unacceptable, no matter the time of year or place of worship.

So again it is not just about the heart as we need to make sure that our hearts align with God’s Word. I am still on the journey and my families worship this time of the year is not as it has been or as mine was as a child. But my goal is not simply to minimize worship now but to maximize it daily and weekly. My sermon this week will speak to Christmas in a manner that tries to get people to focus on Christ in a way that I pray would be taken past the 25th to every day of the year. I want to maximize Christ and minimize the day. My challenge to others, and myself, is that if you feel that God desires you to celebrate Christmas make sure you do so in a biblical manner and that your worship overflows to the rest of the Year. Let our worship be directed by Him, through His word, and not the world

Other sites, alphabetically by name of article, with thoughts on Christmas that I have come across lately. Some of these may challenge you but that is a good thing as it is when I have been challenged that my understanding and faith have grown the most. I think you will find that this is an issue that is not so easily resolved but as I have said often whatever your answer it needs to be based on the word of God and not the wisdom of man.

Luther on Advent

Feedback: The Origins of Christmas

Take Christmas back to its Pagan Roots

The Observation of the Birth of Christ, the Duty of all Christians; or the True Way of Keeping Christmas by George Whitefield

Once Upon A Time, When Christmas Was Banned...

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? By John Piper
Why Christian's Don't Seem to Mind Violating The Regulative Principle During Christ-mass

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