The Bible gives no instruction as to whether the birth of Christ should be celebrated or not, but the early church refused to. One reason was that the unbelieving, superstitious people of their day celebrated birthdays and anniversaries and they didn’t want to emulate those practices.
Frankly, birthdays are a big deal in my family, and though my wife and I seldom celebrate our anniversary on the actual date, we eventually find time for an enjoyable anniversary dinner. I feel uncontaminated by either of the aforementioned practices.
A second reason the early church refused to celebrate Christ’s birth (and I resonate with this one) was that they feared that if they did, it might receive too much attention and eventually overshadow the event and paramount importance of His resurrection.
There was a valid concern, if I’ve ever heard one, because that is precisely what has happened!
In the fourth century, it was declared that Dec. 25 would be the date that Christians should celebrate the birth of their Redeemer.
The reason for the selection of Dec. 25 was that the days were getting longer and the 25th was when the Romans celebrated the “Feast of the Sol Invictus” (the unconquerable sun).
We’re not competing with the sun anymore. Materialism has become the new sun to marginalize the True Son.
British author, journalist and Baptist pastor Jonathan Skinner decided he should go after the white bearded, rosy-cheeked, chubby representative of Christmas.
He wrote, “A white-bearded old man has thrown the baby out of the cradle, and his trinket-filled grotto has replaced a rustic stable … The spiritual has been swallowed by the secular, the sacred obliterated by sentiment. Christmas has been gutted of its meaning.”
Skinner was pretty tough on the pudgy fellow, but I get his point.
However, I prefer exalting the Savior, rather than attacking Santa. And Jesus is much more intriguing than any of the other tinsel or paraphernalia anyway.
Joining the dots is the answer. There was a cradle and it contained the Christ-child. Christ went to the cross, which landed Him in a crypt, but it couldn’t hold Him.
Defeating death and the grave, He left the crypt empty so that hearts can be full. And, He’s coming back as a conqueror, wearing a crown.
May I suggest that this Christmas, in our reading and in our contemplations, that we take time to get the bigger picture?
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about …” (Matthew 1:18). … This same Jesus, who has been taken … into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go …” (Acts 1:11)
Don’t forget to join the dots … and have a wonderful Christmas!
Pastor Ross Helgeton is the senior pastor of Evangelical Free Church of Erskine.
— Faith & Reflection