Saturday, December 23, 2006

Keeping Christmas Well

The Christmas Season is one of shared experiences. From the Christmas carols, to the decorations, to favorite Christmas movies, and special Christmas dinners; school plays, Christmas concerts, Candlelight Services--it seems as though many of us share common experiences. We look forward to all the activities and hustle and bustle of Christmas. And yet, too often we go through all the motions of celebrating Christmas without a thought about what Christmas signifies. This can be true of those who observe a religious celebration as well as those who consciously celebrate Christmas in a purely secular way.

I've been thinking about this a lot over the past few weeks. No where in scripture are we commanded to observe Christ's birth, only His resurrection. So, is it wrong to celebrate Christmas? Is there a right way and a wrong way to celebrate the Saviour's birth? How do we, "keep Christmas well," as Charles Dickens put it in A Christmas Carol . I certainly don't have all the answers and I am still thinking this through, but this morning I came across a blog post on Reformation Theology that I'd like to share with you. An Uncomfortable Christmas Card for Unbelievers Comfortable at Christmas. It begins:

Dear Friend or Loved One Who Loves Me, but Does Not Love Jesus Christ:

This Christmas, I eagerly and affectionately desire to write to you a different kind of Christmas message. I long to send you good tidings of great joy, and high hopes that your Christmas and New Year will be cheerful and full of good things, but I also want to write to make you as uncomfortable with the Christmas message as possible.

The Christmas Message is nothing more or less than the Gospel Message. We frequently say that the Gospel is the "good news" and it is. But to those who have never embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ by grace through faith, it is not good news. It is the worst possible news one could ever receive.

But God. . .
Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
There is a gift, given by God, that I wish for all. And that is the gift of faith in Christ, Who was given of the Father and Who gave His life so that we could live eternally. Only then can we "keep Christmas well, if any man alive possess the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!"

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