"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." Psalm 40:2

How Christians Ought to Celebrate Christmas

One recent Lord’s Day, we worshiped with friends at their church and then enjoyed a wonderful fellowship meal with them. This family is one of the sweetest and most hospitable families I know, and we always enjoy our time together. I have so much to learn about hospitality, and this dear sister is seriously a pro at it. I try to observe and learn as much as possible while we’re together. But I’m digressing…

The sermon that morning was titled “How to Celebrate Christmas”. It was not what I expected — in a good way — it was a really great message on a potentially touchy subject. Good stuff. I thought I’d pass along his thoughts to you, combined with some of my own.

Practices to avoid:

I think Christians can all agree that there are some ways we definitely ought not to celebrate Christmas. We disagree on what falls into that category, I’m sure, but we can agree that the category exists. I’d include in that category attending a Catholic Mass or other service which supposedly contributes to our salvation. (We’re saved by grace, though faith, not of works. Period.) I’d also include participating in parties which promote drunkenness or other sin. (Right and wrong don’t take a vacation in December – they’re truths year-round.) And, I’d personally include some items in this category that my brothers and sisters might argue belong in the next category…

Practices to prayerfully weigh:

There are some ways to celebrate Christmas which are “Romans 14 issues” or “Christian Liberty issues”. True Romans 14 issues are not moral issues – Paul addresses moral issues immediately before addressing Christian liberty (see Romans 13:13-14…sorry, that movie or novel or song you love which glorifies fornication, adultery, selfishness, lies, and/or murder is not a Romans 14 issue…just saying…). So this category includes traditions are not necessarily wrong, but can be wrong in some forms or may be considered to be wrong by some believers. They are practices that true believers can hold different positions on – traditions and practices some believers can do in good conscience, and other believers cannot. These are traditions that believers must be very careful neither to despise their brothers & sisters for not keeping, nor to judge their brothers & sisters for keeping, depending on which side you fall (See Romans 14:3). Some would put Christmas Trees in this category, for example (boy, have I heard some heated debates about those!!), or Christmas Cantatas at church, or use of Jesse Tree ornaments, etc…

christmastree

Setting all those sorts of things aside – what falls into the next category: ways a Christian absolutely should celebrate Christmas? Are there any? Should we celebrate Christmas at all? I mean, we don’t know exactly when Christ was born, historically. We know that some evidence purportedly shows that he probably wasn’t born in December. We hear from some that pagan celebrations this time of year existed for some time before church leaders “Christianized” them. Should we even participate at all?

I’d argue no — and yes.

No, let’s not get carried away with American traditions and the “church calendar”. Let’s not be activists insisting that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” in December – insisting that all others confirm and conform to this “truth” when, really, we might have hijacked the pagans’ fun and games, anyway. I’m convinced that lot of the arguments and traditions surrounding December 25th really, really do not matter. I recommend that you do your own homework, participate in cultural traditions as your conscience allows while being careful not to be sucked into the vortexes of materialism or blindly dogged traditionalism.

But

Yes!! Let’s celebrate the 1st Advent, the incarnation of Christ our Savior!! Let’s celebrate Christ!

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us! The Son of God, fully God, humbled himself to take on the flesh of a man! That’s an infinitely larger difference than if a man were to volunteer to become an earthworm. It’s mind blowing. We really can’t fully wrap our minds around it. Christ’s birth wasn’t Christ’s beginning – He has always been – it was the moment He took on flesh and became fully God and fully man. It’s a huge step God took in His plan to save his children. It’s an amazing beginning to the work of redemption! It’s the beginning of the Gospel story! It’s the first part of the good news! Oh yes, yes, let’s remember and celebrate this moment!

Let’s remember and celebrate the incarnation of Christ every day of our lives. Not only December 25th. He didn’t have to come. He didn’t have to save us. He chose to. That’s way bigger than any of our Christmas traditions.

And, though I know some will disagree with me, let’s use the tradition of celebrating this occasion on December 25th as an opportunity to spend focused time remembering the record of when Christ came and took on flesh, as well as the reason He came and what He did following. Let’s do celebrate Christ on December 25th, along with remembering Him year round.

Practices to keep diligently:

Here are five ways we should celebrate Christmas. They overlap at some points, and I’m sure we could think of more. This list just gets us thinking in the right direction.

1.) Worship Christ.

Worship Christ as the Magi did.

“After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” {Matthew 2:9-11}

– Rejoice exceedingly! Christ has come! Your name is written in heaven! (Luke 10:20; Philippians 3:1 and 4:4; 1 Peter 1:8-9)

Worship Him! Not stuff, not yourself, not your children – He alone is worthy of all honor and praise! (Revelation 5:12)

Offer Him gifts! What can you give Him? Your life, your will, your all, your service, your body, and your allegiance, to name a few. (Romans 6:12-19; Romans 12:1-2)

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” {Romans 12:1}

2.) Reflect upon and remember why Christ came.

He came to be with us. (Matthew 1:23)

He came to give life to His sheep. (John 10:7-16)

He came to join Jews and Gentiles together in one body. (Ephesians 2:11-22)

He came to suffer and die in our place. (Luke 9:22)

He came to save us. (Matthew 1:21, John 3:16-18)

3.) As we remember the 1st Advent, think about making ourselves ready for the 2nd Advent.

Believers are part of the Church, which God’s Word calls the Bride of Christ. Just as an earthly bride prepares for her wedding day, so should we as Christ’s bride prepare for the marriage supper of the lamb after Christ’s return (Revelation 19:7-9). We can prepare in part by:

Renewing our mind in the truth of the Scriptures (Romans 12:2; John 17:17; Psalm 1)

Stopping our disobedience, and walking in obedience, faithfulness, and righteousness (Ephesians 2:1-10; Ephesians 6:14; Matthew 10:38, 16:24, 24:45-51; John 15:10-14; 1 John 3)

4.) As we remember the 1st Advent, look forward to the 2nd Advent and our future with Him.

J.C. Ryle says of Mark 14:62:

“Let us leave the passage with a deep sense of the reality and certainty of our Lord Jesus Christ’s second coming. once More, at the very end of his ministry and in the face of deadly enemies, we find him asserting the mighty truth that he will come again to judge the world. Let it be one of the leading truths in our own personal Christianity. Let us live in the daily recollection that our Savior is one day coming back to this world. Let the Christ in whom we believe be not only the Christ who died for us and rose again, the Christ who lives and intercedes, but the Christ who will one day return in glory, to gather together and reward his people, and to punish fearfully all his enemies.”1

For the children of God, this is going to be an amazingly wonderful time! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, considering the future you have with Him in heaven, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim. You’ll look forward to the great rejoicing that lies ahead. You’ll see just how little the things this world has to offer matter, and a time ahead free from heartache, sorrows, and pain. (Revelation 21:1-4; 22:1-5)

5.) Tell others about our glorious hope in Christ.

Many people are more open to discussing Christ and religion in December than they are other times of the year. I believe Christmas is one of many opportunities to start a conversation. Throughout the year, opportunities to share the Gospel message and the testimony of God’s work in our life abound, if we will only ask God to open our eyes and if we’ll be willing to obey Him. (Psalm 51:10-13, 73:28; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 4:20)

May you each have a joyous celebration of Christ! Merry Christmas!

1 Expository Thoughts on Mark by J.C. Ryle, pg. 260

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4 Responses to “How Christians Ought to Celebrate Christmas”

      • kevinjandt

        Jenni, excellent blog. I like the writings and am going to recommend to my wife. Looks like we are very like-minded. It’s so affirming to see. Praise God for your faithfulness. Kevin

        • Jenni

          Thank you, Kevin. I was very happy to come across your blog today. Very encouraging! It does seem we’re on the same page. I look forward to reading more of you in the future. God bless! Jenni

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