I feel a little more emotional about this one because it involves people forbidding worship. I can understand concerns about how to worship but can’t relate to issues of when.
I do understand that there are degrees, while some are against singing “Happy Birthday, Jesus” with a full-scale pageant, others would be okay with simply preaching on the incarnation in December.
Barry Baggott, in his article, “‘Tis the Season” gives these reasons not to celebrate Christmas:
We are not told to do so
Do we need to be told to worship Jesus? I understand he is dealing with specifics. We were not told to emphasize the birth/incarnation on December 25th or on any particular day. But why does that exclude doing what we are expected/commanded to do whenever we do it. Just because some are doing it annually, why must we refrain at that particular moment?
Couldn’t the “expediency” argument enter in here?
We have no Apostolic Example
(see above) We have examples for worshipping Jesus. Where does the Bible teach that it is right sometimes and wrong sometimes?
This section which includes the Reformation leaders reaction to Catholicism many holy days.
We are following human tradition
The root of this concept bothers me: “We shouldn’t do something because the denominations do it.” We talk big about having the Bible as our only guide, yet so much of our teaching/practice seems to be based on not being like the denominations, or reactionary as some of you commenters have pointed out. Baggott refers to “the world” but means denominations, I assume.
Here is a general truism that we have to learn:
Something is not wrong just because the Baptists do it.
I have a hard time understanding and accepting this reasoning, can some one help me out?
“Another argument one hears is simply: ‘the birth of Christ is in the Bible, so that means celebrating Christmas is biblical.’ That same line of reasoning would allow one to say that “the Bible tells about the virgin Mary, so that means it is biblical to pray to her.’
There is no example of praying to Mary. There are numerous examples of worshipping Baby Jesus.
So, I am among those who feel that Matthew 2:10-11 and Luke 2 are example enough to make a big deal about the incarnation, whether that is in December or any other time of the year. I don’t understand why it is wrong on any given day. It’s the refraining that I can’t comprehend.
Then, Brother Baggott deals with Romans chapter 14.
His first point suggests that while the context talks about Jewish holy days (agreed) there can be no application to future Christian holy days (why not?). off topic–More irony here is that wine comes up again as a matter of opinion in chapter 14.
His second point is that Romans 14 deals with personal/private matters and not assemblies/congregational matters. He concedes that an individual Christian can observe such a holiday as Christmas and Easter but it becomes wrong when a church does it because it will be forced on others.
Okay, but….what about congregational autonomy? There are some congregations in which no one has a problem with it.
We have an area-wide singing each December that is not intended to be a Holiday/Christmas program, but a time for fellowship and worship. We do usually sing a few nativity hymns, as well as hymns dealing with every part of Jesus’ life. Some don’t come. Some accuse us or assume it is a “traditional” Christmas program. They miss out. That’s okay. No one is forced to come.
We received a phone call the first December we lived here from a small, conservative group of brethren who are near us. I had unknowingly sent them a flier/invite to our singing fellowship. Unfortunately, my wife picked up the phone that day and received a tirade about our “Christmas program.”
I will never understand Christians being mad about other Christians worshipping Jesus at the “wrong time”.
Questions I would like answered:
When–what months–is it okay to “celebrate” the birth of Jesus?
By celebrate, I simply mean sing the hymns, study the texts, meditate on implications, be in awe at what God and Jesus have done.
Would it be okay to focus on the birth every July?
Is it okay to do it regularly, just not on the same day or month every year so that people won’t think we have made it a holiday?
If you are against focusing on the birth of Jesus the same time of each year, do you participate in Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Thanksgiving themed services annually?
I intend no sarcasm or mean-spiritedness in these questions. I realize the questions and my blogging habits might confuse, but I sincerely would like to hear more than a couple of passages such as Galatians 4:10-11 to condemn this practice.