Should Christians celebrate Christmas (and if so how) – a personal response
I made a comment in our car when taking my better half to work this morning that there seemed to be less Christmas lights and decorations on display in the houses we passed on the way, compared with previous years, and wondered why that was so.
In the conversation that followed, she pointed out it was a matter of bemusement and amusement as to why her non-Christian work colleagues couldn’t figure out why she, a Christian, didn’t celebrate Christmas, whereas they did, and her response was that which Christmas represents should be celebrated every day of the year. Both of us lived our formative years as Christians among the Plymouth Brethren, and while attitudes have softened in several PB quarters, but just like with the Puritans, they had nothing to do with what they considered to be a pagan festival, but when it came to the Incarnation, Resurrection and especially the Crucifixion of Christ, these centrally featured in their thoughts and is what determined their practices. While PB positions have changed from those early days, other than the “Lord’s Day”, special days were not regarded.
A long time ago, I played the part as peacemaker between two very spiritually minded friends taking diametrically opposite positions, who had fallen out over whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas. As a neutral then and now, I could see both points of views. I see, for example, many of the Christmas trimmings to be pagan in origin, yet I do celebrate Christmas but, as has been the case for most of my life, celebrations have been mild at best. I suspect, this time around, I will still take in Christmas dos, give out cards and gifts, sing carols, over-eat, catch up with family and attend midnight communion at our local church because I value this is at least one time in the year we can reflect on the Christmas story and the implications of that story for the future of humanity.
Realistically, I find Christmas presents an excuse for a much welcomed mid-winter (at least in the UK) break, a time for friends and families to catch up, the occasional Christmas truce and while it should happen at all other times, a time to go out of one’s way to show kindness. In recent years, my Christmas experience for me has been enhanced because of Advent, which like Lent in the lead up to Easter is a time of sober preparation, in this case Jesus coming and coming again into the world. While we are not required to celebrate them, I can also see the importance of the Jewish feasts and respect those incorporating into their calendar celebrating these as an alternative and arguably a more biblical approach when it comes to remembering significant Bible related events throughout the year that while of particular interest to Jews in Old Testament times, could and should interest New Testament Gentile Christians.
Just prior to penning these thoughts, I watched a helpful video presentation by a forthright preacher friend “Is Christmas Pagan? Christmas Trees? Santa Claus? When Was Jesus Born?”, where he provides many of the facts behind Christmas and associated festivities. He did so without coming down on whether or not we should celebrate Christmas (leaving it to individual choice), providing we don’t go down the path of false religion since, after all, the Christmas story is a wondrous one and we do well to celebrate. I was intrigued that he traced back the false religion aspects of Christmas to Nimrod and the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 10 and 11, which was about humankind acting in rebellion to God, and was to be the source of much false religion and occult activity to follow. I was interested as this had a bearing on my recent studies (e.g. here and here) on the Nephilim, the significance of the Nephilim host operating amidst the seats of power, the ongoing seed war and demonic activity, which is a bigger deal than what I once thought, given the mysterious, wicked goings on, now coming to light.
The history of the church includes its ongoing acquiescence to what is false, and lack of attention to what is true, often in order to gain acceptance. The notion of Jesus, meek and mild, lying in a manger, and the message of peace on earth and good will to men, while an attractive one, can sound like sentimental slosh and might consign those who call it out as such to the Ebeneezer Scrooge category. My friend’s “Nimrod” message got me thinking about thoughts recently shared by another respected friend, which relates to where the Transfiguration of Jesus (another event we do well to remember) took place. The argument was that it occurred at Mount Hermon, rather than Mount Tabor. It was where the Nephilim and fallen angels had ended up after the flood, recorded in Genesis 6-8, and in various guises still continue and operate today. The point about that event was not so much the location (the Bible doesn’t say precisely) but that Jesus was shown triumphant over sin, death and hell, as expected at Christmas, reaffirmed at the Transfiguration and finally demonstrated when He rose from the dead and will be seen by all when He returns and to Him all knees will bow and tongues confess.
But back to celebrating (or not) Christmas, I recognise that for many Christians, conscience plays a key role. Even if ok with celebrating Christmas, one may not be ok with the irreverence and debauchery that sometimes goes with it. It seems to me a balanced approach is needed. As people of God we must fear God but also want to engage with those who don’t, who outside weddings, baptisms and funerals might have little exposure to the Gospel message besides the story behind the Christmas festivities and, while current culture wishes to play down the “religious” bit, are presented with the “reason for the season”. My final thought is a confession. I enjoy the annual “BBC broadcast of 9 Lessons and Carols” from Kings College Chapel, yet wonder what is in people’s minds when they hear read: