Monday, December 07, 2009

What About Christmas?
Each year I get some version of this question. Lately, it seems to be coming up more than it used to. Traditionally, members of the church of Christ, at least during in my life time, have taken a non-birthday view of the holiday. The rationale usually goes something like this:
  • Acts 1:7-8 "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. (NKJV) Therefore, we should not put one day above another.
  • The history of Christmas is of Catholic origin. The term Christmas appeared in Old English as early as 1038 AD as Cristes Maesse, and later as Cristes-messe in 1131 AD. It means "the Mass of Christ." (
  • The history of Christmas is of pagan origin. Corresponding to the winter solstice. (
  • The date of Christ's actual birth is unknown. It is not recorded in the Bible.
  • It is the wrong time of the year. Shepherds would not be in the field in winter. Luke 2:8 "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night." NKJV

While I could recite other objections, I give these as those that I have heard and considered in my own search for an answer to this question. Historically, churches of Christ tend not to have Singing Christmas Trees programs, Christmas Cantatas, Manger Scenes or Christmas plays/ programs. In the past few years this seems to be changing among some churches of Christ.

I have decided this is a Mars Hill situation for me. Acts 17:22-23 "Paul stood in the midst of Mars' Hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you." KJV By that I mean, just as Paul spoke to the Athenians about Jesus, I can speak to a Christmas saturated society about Jesus.

Over the years I have preached sermons with tiles like: "More Than A Manger," "Wise Men Still Seek Him," "No Room in the Inn." My prayer is that God will use these lessons to help me proclaim, "...the way of God more perfectly." (Acts 18:26 - KJV)
I am fully aware that all my brethren do not agree with me. I mean this both literally and figuratively. I find myself identifying with the apostle Paul as he studied the question of eating meats offered to idols recorded in 1 Corinthians 8:4-13. I note, verse 13, "Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble." NKJV. While this verse could be taken out of context and used to say, "don’t do anything lest you offend," Paul is really saying, in context, that it is ok; but I will not cause a brother to lose his soul over a matter of conscience...not just his preference but his conscience.

So, What about Christmas? I do not believe any student of the Bible will claim that Jesus was born on December 25. However, I hope that all will acknowledge that He was born of a virgin.

Whatever theological differences exist regarding the birth of Jesus, I am thankful that He was born, died for my sins, was resurrected, and has prepared a place in heaven for those who serve Him. Philippians 1:18 says, "in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice , yes, and will rejoice" NKJV. So, I am thankful for any reason the world is interested in Christ Jesus.

If you hear me say, "Merry Christmas," just know I believe this is more than a baby in manger. His story is the greatest story ever told.

I found the quote below from Alexander Campbell very interesting:
MUSINGS ON CHRISTMAS MORNING. THIS morning being Christmas, and, as the Roman superstition would have it, the nativity of man's Redeemer; assuming it as true, my thoughts naturally lead me to Bethlehem, Calvary, and the sepulchre of Joseph. And what mysterious, sublime, and animating associations cluster around those three places! How near the point of distance! Eight short miles measured the whole space from the manger to the cross! And how short the interval of time between the first birth from Mary, and the second birth from Joseph's tomb, of Arimathea! Not quite the half of three-score-years-and-ten completes the labors and the life of Heaven's and Earth's First Born! And yet what scenes and transactions crowd this narrow space of earth, and this short interval of time! -The Millennial Harbinger, January, 1844. (


Adam said...

Great thoughts. I'm glad you finally put this "in print" somewhere. Every year around this time, I reference you in my lessons/sermons and how you influenced my thinking on this.

Dana said...

Well said! The funny thing about this particular subject is that many put us in a group with Pagans because we've, in the past, "left Christ out of Christmas". I think it's a classic example of leaning so far to one side that we tip the boat.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Jesus' blesings every day of the year!

I love you

Amy said...

Great article and perspective. Thanks for sharing!
Amy (Mathias) DiMarco