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Christian Sabbath/Holidays

Celebration of Christmas

The topic to which I speak is that of the Celebration of Christmas; only a summary of considerations is provided here. The Holy Scriptures speak to this issue. However, some explanatory guidance is essential concerning the application of the scriptures in our modern day society.

At its roots, Christmas is a holiday intended to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Hence, we have the word Christ included in the word Christmas.

The notion of Santa Claus is problematic as discussed at the link given below entitled Christmas and Santa Claus.

December 25th is a stand-in day for celebrating the birth of Christ since the scriptures do not give his date of birth. This is similar to the annual Presidents Day each February.  No one claims all Presidents were born on that day; it is a stand-in day for convenience. It is the birth that is celebrated not the day. Have you ever had your birthday party on the weekend when your birthdate fell during the week?

Churches and Christians overall should emphasize to children and adults the stand-in nature of the date as children will naturally assume it is the known actual date unless told otherwise.

Some say Christ was born during the Feast of Tabernacles which was/is a 7 day Jewish celebration. Yet, others say this is not so. For the source at the link below about pinpointing Christ birth says Christ was likely born in the Spring instead of the Fall. I am not saying when he was born as that is not important else the scripture would have told us.

I emphasize that the celebration is about his birth not the day, tree, gifts, etc. Thus, the celebration is proper any day including in a special way on December 25th as some do.  See Matthew 2 concerning the wise men and Luke 2 concerning the shepherds and the manger for examples of biblical celebrations of the birth of Christ.

Some say that celebrations such as Christmas and birthdays are unholy because God speaks about Israel’s feasts being unacceptable in scriptures such as Isaiah 1:13-14 and  Amos 5:21.  Well, in those same scriptures God also says their solemn assemblies were unacceptable. So clearly God was speaking about something going on at those particular activities that displeased God. If it applied to all feasts/celebrations and solemn assemblies then Jesus would have been out of order at the marriage feast/celebration (John 2, especially John 2:9). Also, church gatherings today would be out of order.

Some refer to Jeremiah 10:1-5 do render the use of decorated trees at Christmas as unholy. But those verses more closely describe the cutting down of trees for the construction and decoration of a house or other facility rather than for a Christmas tree.

After all, I don’t recall my family using a hammer and nail on a Christmas tree. I certainly know many houses made of trees cut down with an axe or other instrument.  And didn’t God tell them to use silver and gold in building and decorating the temple? Was not wood from trees used in building the temple? See 1 Kings 6, especially 1 Kings 6:9, 15, 22, 31 for a description of the temple construction.

Also, Jeremiah 10:5 indicates they were engaging in idolatry (putting a thing or person above, before, or in place of the one true God) by thinking the spoken about trees had power. This is why the Christmas Tree is okay since Christmas is not about worshipping a tree but about worshipping Christ.

The Bible does not give a calendar date for Jesus birth. In the United States, we celebrate his birth on December 25th of each year. Some other countries do so on other dates that approximate December 25th. The specific date is not important; the date chosen is merely a custom. Other customs such as gift giving are associated with Christmas. Biblically, some customs have their basis in commandment/law whereas others do not and are optional as a matter of human preference. Human preferences are proper as long as they do not conflict with God’s Word, Will, and Way for such are authorized by God.

One example of human preferences is 1 Cor. 16:20.  Humans often use customs to symbolize, represent, point to, recognize, be mindful of, and make visible something we hold to be important and dear.

Hence, we celebrate our own birthdays, our love one’s birthday, wedding anniversaries, etc. Some for religious or other reasons do not celebrate Christmas or may not celebrate their own birthdays, etc. Some may not celebrate December 25 because they say history suggests December 25 was chosen because it occurred during a time of some pagan celebration. Even if that was the case, no matter what date one chooses something undesirable most likely occurred on that date in history or will occur in the future. On December 25, we do not celebrate any component of a pagan religion. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ period. Now people certainly have a right not to employ the Christmas date custom and/or some or all of the associated customs. Yet, we have a right to have valued customs of celebration. It is not a question of sin but rather a question of personal preference. The key is that we accept the birth of Jesus as the birth of the one and only Saviour of humankind from the condemnation of sin.

Matthew 1:20-21 says: “…behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” All believers are his people.

And Luke 1:31-35 says: And, behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS… And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

So then Jesus birth is unique and the most important in all of history and for all time. His birth was like no other who was made flesh. He was born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit not through sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.

For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8).

Jesus was/is our Creator God’s gift to the world. So then it is right to celebrate Christmas through the giving of gifts. In so doing let us do so in remembrance of our love for one another but most importantly in remembrance of God’s love for us.

In the word Christmas, some remove the word Christ replacing Christmas with the word Xmas. Some say the X stems from the Greek word for Christ and its usage is not an attempt to remove Christ from Christmas. Maybe that is true; but, how many people know that X is the Greek symbol for Christ? Most people think of X as symbolizing an unknown from algebra classes. So then regardless of the intent, the net effect is to reduce the visibility and promotion of Jesus Christ symbolism during this holiday period. The purpose of words is to communicate something; Christ communicates much more than X. So let us not dishonor the celebration of Jesus birth by promoting his removal from the holiday and society’s norms. It is especially important that Christian parents avoid and teach their children to avoid the use of Xmas as a replacement for Christmas. Be mindful of the biblical principle that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. As in the case of removing prayer from school, removing Christ from Christmas reduces the visibility of recognizing God in our society in general. Let us not be guilty of removing Christ from Christmas.

References:

1. See Christmas and Santa Claus for discussion of Santa Claus as an unreal character.

2.  Pinpointing Christ Birth

3. Below are some articles on the history of Christmas Day, Saint Nick, Santa Claus, and related terms. Notice there is no agreement on the beginning of Christmas, why December 25, why the name Santa Claus, etc. Various theories and speculations are set forth; thus, no one knows for certain the correct answer to such questions. For example, some say Constantine started the Christmas celebration; but, others say Christmas was being celebrated before Constantine.

The article below entitled “How December 25 became Christmas says “The December 25 feast seems to have existed before 312—before Constantine and his conversion, at least…”.  The article entitled “Why Christmas” says “…the 25th December go back to around 200!”.

This is one main reason I do not rely on historical writings to determine spiritual truth and application of scriptures to various life questions/issues.

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