How Should Christians Deal with Christmas?

The Christmas season is a festive time of year for many people, secular or religious.  It’s hard not to get into a good mood with all the decorations and cheerful music.  For many Christians it is a time to remember the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and proclaim peace and goodwill towards men.  But even among Christians there is a debate as to whether Christmas should be celebrated at all.  The argument goes that the New Testament never commands the observance of any religious holidays.  This short essay is not being written to argue for or against the observance of Christmas among Christians.  I’ll leave that argument for another time.  However, I do want to deal with the subject of Christmas competing with the Lord’s Day.

This year Christmas falls on a Sunday.  Sunday has been established in the New Testament as the day of corporate worship for the body of Christ and is referred to as either the Lord’s Day or the Christian Sabbath.  A positive case for Sunday-only worship can be found in the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith.  There is no higher priority on the Christian’s weekly calendar than to gather for corporate worship on the day that God commands.  The post-Christian society that we live in today has done a good job of watering down those things that God has commanded.  There are churches that are substituting Christmas Eve services for Lord’s Day worship.  It’s even done by some churches on Super Bowl Sunday!  I’m not suggesting that a church that recognizes Christmas should not have a Christmas Eve observance.  What I am suggesting is that nothing – not even Christmas falling a Sunday – should cause the canceling of Lord’s Day worship.  Man does not  have the authority to usurp what God has commanded.

If you are going to observe the Christmas holiday, I pray that you have a wonderful time remembering the birth of our Lord and spending time with friends and family; but I would urge you to think about what God expects – what God has commanded – about corporate worship on the first day of the week.

Should Christians celebrate Christmas?

Within the Reformed community the subject of whether or not to celebrate Christmas is right up there with debates about baptism, instruments in worship, exclusive psalmody (singing of psalms only), and the color of the carpet. This article is not meant to convince the opposing view, rather, it’s purpose is to provide a clear biblical rationale for observing Christmas. This will be a great comfort for those who celebrate the holiday but who want to know what scripture says on the matter.

In Luke’s gospel we read the following account:

Luke 2:8-20 8 And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 15 And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

These shepherds were minding their own business; tending to the sheep under their care, when, suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to them. It’s quite possible that that this angel was Gabriel, the same angel that informed Mary that she was going to be with child. Along with the angel of the Lord came a multitude of the heavenly host, proclaiming the peace and goodwill of God towards those with whom He was pleased. To put it mildly, this was not a normal night out in the fields for the shepherds. It wasn’t in keeping with their regular duties to come face to face with the angel of the Lord, as well as a multitude of the heavenly hosts.

The shepherd’s, fresh from their encounter with these angelic majesties, went straight to Bethlehem, where they saw the new born Jesus. The account of the shepherds ends with this verse:

Luke 2:20 20 And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

These men of humble means were made witnesses to the first few hours of life of the incarnate Lord. They were so impacted by this event that they returned home, glorifying God. I doubt they were able to contain themselves.

The bible presents the birth of Christ to be an important event; central to the gospel account. Without Christ’s birth there could not have been his death on the cross. Without His death there would have been no resurrection and the promise of eternal life. Christmas is the recognition of the good news proclaimed by the angel of the Lord to the shepherds. It is to be kept in balance with the other parts of the gospel; namely, His death, burial, and bodily resurrection. If the message of Christmas is all we know about Christ, we are made spiritually destitute. But if kept in balance with the rest of the gospel message, the Christmas story is a wonderful account of the grace of our Lord.

Merry Christmas!