Monday, May 1, 2017
I would be the first to inform you that “Easter and Christmas are not mentioned in the Bible.” I will admit up front that some misconceptions and errors are contained in both celebrations. I will admit that myth and pagan roots are found in Christmas, perhaps even in Easter. I will admit that the Easter bunny wasn’t raised by Jesus and never laid any colored eggs nor did Jesus paint any baby chicks. I will admit that Santa Claus is not the second cousin of Jesus nor even a distant relative. Jesus did not hire him to take presents to the world’s children who are “nice” and a piece of coal to the naughty ones. Atheists, agnostics, and skeptics would applaud if Jesus was as “make believe” as Santa and the bunny.
I am disappointed that some cannot see the inconsistency involved in the statement, “Easter and Christmas are not mentioned in the Bible.” Believers have been using that phrase, probably before Christmas was ever taught! Some still claim that “’Sunday School’ or ‘Bible classes’ are not mentioned in the Bible.” “A preacher being hired by a congregation to preach all the sermons’ is not mentioned in the Bible.” “Singing, prayer, giving, Lord’s supper, and preaching are not mentioned as ‘worship’ in the Bible.” The list could be endless.
It is true that none of the gospel writers tell us that a birthday cake was baked by Mary and decorated with candles to celebrate Jesus’ first and later birthdays. But, all believers recognize that he was born (Luke 2:11)! Matthew and Luke give us some details. We know he was born in Bethlehem and angels announced his birth. On the eighth day he was circumcised in Jerusalem at the temple. Isn’t it strange that angels announced his birth, shepherds “spread the word,” Simeon and Anna proclaimed it in the Temple courtyards, and magi travelled to worship him, but we are forbidden to recognize his birth because we don’t know the exact day (Luke 2:17)?
Some argue that we cannot recognize Jesus birth being on December 25th, but may recognize his birth when partaking of the Lord’s supper. Although I can appreciate the statement, the same silence that eliminates December 25 would also forbid a Sunday observance. Neither are found stated in scripture. Others claim that it is wrong to limit that recognition to one day, December 25th, but should be recognized 365 days each year. Again, silence is deafening. Where does it condemn a recognition of Jesus birth to one of 365 days, but authorizes that recognition for all of them? Again, the Bible is silent! If silence makes it a sin for a one day recognition, that same silence would make it a sin for the other 364. Wouldn’t atheists, agnostics and skeptics applaud that law of silence?!
If Jesus’ birth is celebrated when we partake of the Lord’s supper, which is understood to be one of five acts of worship, why not celebrate his birth in our “worship” songs? Why don’t we sing Silent Night, Joy to the World, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, Away in the Manager, or Hark, the Herald Angels Sing as pre-communion songs since the Lord’s supper includes recognition of his birth? Most saints that believe it is a sin to celebrate Jesus birth on December 25th seldom if ever sing any of those songs in the other eleven months or 52 Sundays. Why? Don’t we believe Jesus was born? Perhaps we believe he was born, we just don’t believe it is scriptural to openly recognize that belief? That would make atheists, agnostics, and skeptics applaud!
For those who claim Jesus birth may not be observed on December 25th because it is of pagan origin, will admit that the birth itself is not of that origin. Scripture foretold it in passage such as Isaiah 7:14; 9:6. Matthew and Luke proclaimed it (Matthew 1:1-25; 2:2-23; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-52). I’m not defending the part that is of pagan origin, but if something is sinful because it has pagan roots, then all of us are in trouble. The first day of the week is referred to as “Sunday.” Sunday has pagan roots. Does that mean our worship on Sunday is tainted because we are worshiping on a pagan named day?
Putting up a Christmas tree or passing out gifts is not found in the Bible. But, it is part of our culture. Is it possible for a Christian to observe things in his culture which are not described in the Bible? The Jerusalem church, which provided membership for all 13 apostles, James, Jesus’ brother, and even his mother Mary, was zealous for the Law of Moses. This included among other things, worship at the temple, keeping the Sabbath, and observing the Jewish holy festivals. The small epistle embedded in Acts 15 relieved Gentile believers from the Law and its practices. Despite the differences between the Gentile and Jewish brethren, Paul encourage them to respect the beliefs and practices of the other (Romans 14). Isn’t Romans 14 just as applicable today as Romans 6?
December 25th isn’t the actual birth date of Jesus, as far as we know. Yet, people the world over recognize on that day that he was born! That’s the good part. Isn’t it better to have the world recognize Jesus’ birth on one of 365 days rather than none? Atheists, agnostics, and skeptics would rather it be none! Will we join their ranks?