I recently had a discussion with a very well-meaning Christian friend at work, and she shared that she didn’t believe that Christians should celebrate Christmas either as a secular holiday or a religious holiday. Her argument was based on that fact of the pagan influence that has overtaken the holiday, and from a secular view it has become materialistic.
Started to think about her position, and yes I have always thought that the we have over secularized the meaning of Christmas, with Santa Claus, and the hustle of buying Christmas presents for everybody we know. However, I wondered about the Holiday celebration as a Christian, have we in the church lost the “Reason for the Season” in this push to celebrate a Holiday.
As I have looked through the writings of the Early Church Fathers, (I’m open to being corrected) I don’t see much discussion on the celebration of Christ Birth, nor do I see much discussion on the celebration of Easter either. The emphasis is around the facts, Christ was born in Bethlehem, to the Virgin Mary, Shepherds and Wise Men came to see him. It wasn’t until almost two hundred years after Christ birthday do we see the church having a celebration or feast to remember it, and it wasn’t until well into the 4th or 5th century do we see Christmas becoming part of the church calendar.
So, what does this tell me?
1. The Early Church Father’s and the Christian Community as a whole emphasis was not on the Celebration, but on the Message.
2. They had a very clear focus on the Message that a Savior was born in a manager without fanfare to save a lost and dying world.
3. That my purpose today is to remember the Reason for the Season! Christ the King was born to give the greatest gift for me.
Please do not misunderstand me, I believe the church should celebrate the Birth of Christ and use every opportunity to share with the World that Christ came as a baby, lived a Sinless life, and died on the Cross for everyone’s sins, providing for all humanity the greatest gift of all. However, I believe the focus and emphasis must be on Christ and not the Celebration!
As I reflect on gifts, parties, celebrations, and yes even Christmas Eve services that I and others will be involved in this year either in person or by virtually, connecting. amid the most unusual Christmas season in modern history, with medical professionals, governors, and even pastors telling us to social distance, to have gifts mailed straight to the person, and don’t have a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day celebration in our own home.
This is the perfect time to slow down this Holiday Season and spend some time as the First and Second Century church fathers and Christians would have done, simply reflecting on the Birth of Christ and the meaning for us personally.
Honestly, I plan to sit back in my comfortable chair and read the Christmas story from the Gospels and reflect on the Real Reason for this Season … Christ Loves Me!
My family and I pray that you have a Merry Christmas and that the New Year brings you great opportunities to serve HIM.