Rather than doing a special lesson on Christmas today, I thought I would share some thoughts about this holiday season in the bulletin this week. If you are to peruse Facebook, Twitter, or simply drive around town you are bound to find something about putting Christ back in Christmas or Jesus is the reason for the season. We find such things because Christmas has certainly become an exceptionally materialistic holiday. (Which I find ironic considering Jesus didn’t have a pillow to lay his head and told the Rich Young Ruler to sell all of his possessions). Some that celebrate the holiday are atheists. (My ex-brother-in-law) was one of them. He didn’t believe in God, but he did believe in getting presents). To them it is a time to get together with family and open presents. Others make it a wholly religious affair and still some, while a faithful people, celebrate it as a secular holiday. And some won’t be celebrating anything this holiday season. Some do so because there is none to celebrate with. Some do so because they don’t believe in Christ and refuse to “worship” the holy day. And still some chose to not celebrate because it is not once mentioned in the bible as something God commanded or that the early church actually did. But which one is right? Is there a right way and a wrong way to celebrate this holiday season?
The reality is, Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas Day. Winters in Israel may not be as harsh as winters in Iowa, but they average temperatures are around 44 and it commonly dips below freezing at night. If the shepherds were in the fields they would have been uncommon. Shepherds didn’t leave their sheep at risk during the winter months. Usually around mid-October the sheep would be protected from the harsh reality of winter. Keeping them corralled until late February. The celebration of Jesus’ birthday as December 25th was Made popular by Pope Liberius, in AD 354 and became rule in AD 435 by Pope Sextus III. The earliest known discussion concerning the birth date of Jesus was by Clement of Alexandria in AD 200. He suggested Jesus may have been born on May 20th. So, why was December 25th chosen? a. This date was chosen to “facilitate the acceptance of the faith by the pagan masses, the Church of Rome found it convenient to institute the 25th of December as the feast of the birth of Christ to divert them from the pagan feast, celebrated on the same day in honor of the Invincible Sun Mithras, the conqueror of darkness.” (Manual of Liturgical History). The reality is, the celebration of Jesus’ birth on this day really had nothing to do with scripture, but everything to do with appeasing the masses.
Most actually have come to accept the fact that Jesus wasn’t born that day, the evidence just weighs too much against it. But many simply state that they choose to honor his birth on this day. It is interesting that among the early church the day of one’s birth was not honored. It was the day of one’s death that early Christians kept. Origen wrote, “In the scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners who make great rejoicing over the day in which they were born.” While Origen is not scripture, not inspired he at least reveals to us the attitude of early Christians. The church has no record of keeping it until the 3rd century. (It is interesting to me that many of the false practices in the church started after the state of Rome “legalized” Christianity).
So, is it sinful to celebrate Christmas? The reality is, not everything associated with Christmas is a good thing. (Even if we like to say that it is). Materialism has certainly taken over the holiday. So much so that we determine whether or not is was a good Christmas by how much money Americans spent this year. At many holiday parties people become intoxicated, make fools of themselves and do things that they would not normally do (perhaps even infidelity). Many will complain about their in-laws this week; failing to remember that they are someone’s parents, grandparents, sister, brother, etc. But, just because a lot of sinful things can happen around Christmas doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. (Lots of sinful things can happen at Wal-mart that doesn’t mean that shopping there will condemn your soul). And I am convinced that if I am going to do something to honor God, I must do it his way (See Lev. 10:1-3). So, yes with many ways this holiday is celebrated in this world, it is sinful.
But, with that said, think a person can gather with friends and family show a little love by giving during this time of the year and build up relationships and they can do it December 25th and not sin.
Grinnell church of Christ
Website design by Blythe Data Recovery & Computer Repair, LLC
The Truth About Christmas
Volume 6 Issue 3