Saturday, November 26, 2011

Should We Celebrate Christmas?



Throughout the years we've questioned whether or not we ought to celebrate Christmas, understanding and agreeing with many of the reasons some of our brethren have given for not doing so.  We've concluded, at least at this point in time, that we should continue to do so, in part because of what Stacy MacDonald recently shared on her blog post below.
 

I well remember how the Lord opened my eyes to the tremendous significance of the words of many powerful Christmas carols when He revealed Himself and called me to be His child some 30 years ago.  From then until now I've stood, yet stand, in awe at how His Name and His glory is projected through such beautiful and powerful Christmas carols as, "O Holy Night" and others.


More recently, while in China adopting one of our children during the month of December, I was incredibly moved as I stood in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, in a communist country which rejects Christ and to this day persecutes those who trust in Him, as many of these great carols boomed from their loudspeakers.  China has become very commercialized with Christmas becoming a pretty big deal there, not in acknowledgement of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, but as a "western" holiday which many Chinese now take part in.  Yet, in the midst of their secular holiday, the Name of Christ is being projected across their cities in the form of Christmas carols which speak to man's fallen state, his need of the Saviour, and of Christ's coming.  There's no doubt in my mind that God is using those lyrics to cause many to consider the meaning behind them, drawing men, women, and children to Himself through the powerful message being proclaimed.

We also agree with Stacy concerning the impact of Christmas upon secular culture, and rejoice in the fact that the coming of the Saviour of the world is being aired on almost every secular radio station in our land, as well as in almost every retail store, believing God will do as He pleases with it, drawing whom He will through the message of the birth of Christ.

Below is Stacy's blog post with a video clip of the men's acapella group, Straight No Chaser, singing Hark The Herald Angels Sing.







Gloria in excelsis Deo!


“And the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.” (Ezekiel 36:23)


As children of God, our greatest goal should be that our Father’s name is hallowed in us before the eyes of the world. “Glorify God and enjoy Him forever!” One of the amazing things that happens when a country is “Christianized” is that its culture begins to reflect biblical principles, even among the heathen in their midst.


Many feminists complain about the “oppression” of women caused by biblical teaching; but, Christianity is indeed what freed us from oppression! Read The Real Women’s Liberation Movement. Christian culture demands that women and children be protected and treated with value and dignity.


Historically, when a heathen nation was overcome by the Gospel, distinct changes inevitably took place in the culture. For instance, the coming of Christ provided the world with a more complete and beautiful picture of marriage. “Marriage is honorableamong all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)

“By rejecting polygamy, adultery, fornication, public nudity, and the artistic portrayal of sexual acts, either openly on stage or graphically portrayed on household items, the Christians instituted an entirely new sexual morality. As secular historian Edward Gibbon declared: ‘The dignity of marriage was restored by the Christians.’” Dr. Peter Hammond

As Christians, our presence should impact the culture around us. We mustn’t hide from the culture; we are to confront it—transform it by the power of Jesus in us. Living our lives to the glory of God burns a bright and conspicuous light in a dark and hollow world.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Recently, I heard a beautiful version of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, sung by the secular group, “Straight No Chaser.” What struck me was the fact that a group of secular singers was doing a beautiful job of proclaiming the miracle of the incarnation of Christ!


Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till he appeared
And the soul felt its worth.


This group’s Christmas CDs, Holiday Cheers and Holiday Spirits, contain both secular and spiritual songs and have been wildly popular on the secular market. They have appeared on the Today show, ABC World News Tonight, and CNN Headline News, to name a few. Because of the influence of Christianity on society, those who don’t worship our God, are willing to enjoy, and even join us unaware, in proclaiming the story of the coming of our King. His story is being told. For this we should rejoice!


I realize there are many well-meaning Christians who are opposed to the celebration of Christ’s birth. I can appreciate many of their reasons and agree with some of them. The worldliness, the materialism, the “cheapening” of the original purpose for the celebration is enough to earn a hearty, “Bah Humbug” from any Christian.


There are Christians who believe that celebrating Christmas is a violation of the Regulative Principle of Worship. Some make the point that many of the Protestant Reformers rejected the idea of recognizing “special days” on the church calendar.


However, when we celebrate Christmas, we are not recognizing a special day on the calendar, as if it were holy or biblically set apart. We are simply setting aside an occasion of remembrance—a time when we recall the miracle of the incarnation and teach it to our children. The day itself is not special, but the day we’re remembering is glorious—the day when God became flesh and dwelt among us!


A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!

Oh, hear the angel voices!

Oh night, divine!

Oh night when Christ was born.


Also, as a family, we use the advent candle during our family worship time. It is a great way to teach the children and pull them into the Scriptures. Though these are not commands of God, there are examples in Scripture where God told His people to use tangible means to teach future generations:

“That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What mean ye by these stones?’ Then ye shall answer them, ‘That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.’” (Joshua 4:5-7)

From God, our heavenly father,
A blessed angel came.

And unto certain shepherds,
Brought tidings of the same.
How that in Bethlehem was born,
The son of God by name.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
Remember Christ our savior was born on Christmas day.
To save us all from Satan’s power
when we were gone astray.

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy…


At what other time of year do even the lost proclaim aloud Christ’s purpose for coming? What a wonderful opportunity God has given us. While emotions are stirred, hearts are tender, and “family” once again becomes important to many, we are able to speak and sew into the lives of those who may normally be opposed to the Truths of Scripture.


[We] Didn’t know you’d come to save us Lord
To take our sins away
Our eyes were blind,
we could not see

We didn’t know who you were.


It’s amazing to hear these words sung by those whose eyes are still blinded. Pray with me today that God would open the eyes of those who sing this song in ignorance. Pray that he who memorizes the notes and practices the harmony to such carols this year would indeed come to know You as Lord and Savior!


Hark! the herald angels sing,“Glory to the new born King,peace on earth, and mercy mild,God and sinners reconciled!"




2 comments:

  1. Our family doesn't celebrate Christmas. We have no Christmas tree, no special meal, no decorations, and no gifts on Christmas day. Instead, on December 25, we celebrate Incarnation Day! Incarnation Day is all about celebrating the greatest miracle of all, God becoming man!!! We also focus a lot on why He came, to save sinners!! We have no tree, no special meal, no decorations and no gifts because we don't want anything that would distract us from Jesus, especially with young children. Instead, our kids receive their gifts on New Year's Day. We celebrate Incarnation Day in a very simple manner. We read the Bible, we pray, and we sing some songs. We are hoping that our children will continue this Christ-centered tradition and celebrate Incarnation Day with their children.

    Pascal

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  2. Love what you've shared, Pascal! Thanks so much!

    Hugs,
    Deb

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