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‘Christ’ in Christmas? Churches of Christ and the holiday season (from the archive)

In a front-page story in December 2005, The Christian Chronicle reported:

For many members of Churches of Christ, Christmas once meant decorated trees, colorfully wrapped presents and Santa Clauses all around — but definitely no mention of baby Jesus.
Mistletoe was welcome, but mangers certainly were not, in a fellowship that marked Dec. 25 as a secular holiday but purposely never sang “Joy to the World” after about mid-November.
In recent years, though, many congregations have become much more willing to reflect on the story of Jesus’ birth at a time when the world is focused on him, The Christian Chronicle found in a query of more than 100 ministers and members nationwide.
But some remain steadfastly opposed to connecting Christ with Christmas.

Read the full story.

Related: What about Christmas?

Reader feedback: How do you and your congregation approach Christmas? Do you celebrate it as a secular or religious holiday — or not at all? The Chronicle welcomes and encourages feedback that promotes thoughtful and respectful discussion. 

  • Feedback
    I posted my own reflections on Keeping Christ in Christmas on my blog this morning. Feel free to read it here: http://scottmccown.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/keep-happy-in-the-holidays/
    Scott McCown
    Parrish Church of Christ
    Parrish, Alabama
    Scott McCown
    December, 1 2011
    Thanks for sharing, Scott! Very interesting post on your blog.
    Bobby Ross Jr.
    December, 1 2011
    The church my family’s part of, Central Jersey Church of Christ, decorates for Christmas and the message on the Sunday prior to Christmas is on the topic. Then again…we’re a bit different…. 😉
    Adam Gonnerman
    December, 1 2011
    I did a 180 on this over the years. I used to be strongly opposed to connecting Christ with the holiday season. Most of that came as a result of teaching I accepted at face value. Christmas has become such a secular and humanistic event (what I am getting for Christmas, or what’s in it for me)that the entire holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas is a time for so many great lessons to be taught.
    1. There is no reason to limite the teaching of the birth of Christ to a time or season, but people who are not normally attuned may actually listen. If they actually visit a church imagine the damage if we take this annual opportunity to beat up those who don’t have a biblical foundation.
    2. It is at time for benevolence. At Thanksgiving and Christmas we make it a point to adopt a family and provide thanksgiving dinner and at Christmas we try to find some under-priviledged children or families to help. Sometimes we volunteer at the Rescue Mission. While our kids are being bombarded by adds for everything under the sun, we have a chance to change the message.
    Black Friday, the commercialism and the loss of “peace on earth and goodwill to men,” troubles me. We are growing increasingly secular in this world, but even that provides an opportunity for Christians. The darker the world we live in the brighter our light appears.
    I met with a group of Christians in New Orleans once about Mardi Gras and asked them what there approach was to this week of sin and debauchery – one group told me they get out of town, while another group indicated that there were sin is so great, the need for the gospel is greater.
    My point is the debate should not be what do to about Christmas, but what do we do with Christ. He should always be exalted, and whether you are pro-celebrate, or opposed to celebrating, don’t miss the opportunity to proclaim Christ to the nations.
    Trent Wheeler
    December, 1 2011
    Christmas is the only time of year Churchachrist people tell non-Churchachrist people to NOT think about Jesus.
    Shannon Beasley
    December, 1 2011
    Has anyone done a sociological or historical study of why Churches of Christ have downplayed Christmas? Have similar religious groups done this as well? What are the underlying reasons?
    Charles Stelding
    December, 1 2011
    I think the whole controversy is kind of silly. Actually, I believe we should celebrate Christ’s birth 365 days a year, but for me personally I don’t find this season any more religious than the rest of the year. For me it is about enjoying time with your family and friends.
    December, 1 2011
    For what it’s worth, here’s my thoughts on what Christians need to do if they want to keep Christ in Christmas (from my blog): “Keeping Christ in Christmas” http://kingdomseeking.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/keeping-christ-in-christmas/
    K. Rex Butts
    December, 1 2011
    Charles: There is indeed quite a history to religious opposition to Christmas. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, almost every non-Catholic group opposed Christmas as a Catholic innovation. Because of this, there was not even a ‘secular’ Christmas culture (with trees, gift-giving, etc.). This began to change with Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which actually synthesized various local English customs that the author had discovered. So it was not popular support of Christmas that gave rise to Dickens’ work, but the popularity of Dickens that gave rise to what we now know as a ‘traditional Christmas.’
    Jon Burnett
    December, 2 2011
    I’d really like to see some data on this. Anecdotally, I’m not really finding many people at all who are opposed to the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. They were vocal a few decades ago when I was a kid, but even then they didn’t constitute a majority.
    What I do see is a few people who aren’t comfortable with a Christmas tree in the worship service, although it’s fine at home. The nativity set is fine on the town square, but not on their own mantle. Viewpoints beyond that are in a shrinking minority.
    When I re-read the article, you really only have one person who seems opposed (and even she exchanges gifts.) The rest express concern and ambivalence, but not opposition. If nearly all of us think it’s fine to celebrate Jesus, then in fairness, the article should have been entitled, “Christ in Christmas? He Is Now.”
    Here’s another solution: The first Sunday after Thanksgiving, have all the congregants sign a release acknowledging that Christmas is not a commanded holiday. Then the rest of the month, no one has to litter their sermons with disclaimers.
    Brute Wolf
    December, 2 2011
    We pretty much treat Christmas like any other cultural holiday. We celebrate each in our own way, as well as some congregational things – Ladies’ Christmas Party, caroling, etc. – but the only thing we do worship wise is to pare down our Sunday schedule when Christmas falls on Sunday as it does this year. Basically, we don’t put Christ in Christmas more than any other time of the year.
    Jay Kelley
    December, 2 2011
    It has always been interesting, and sometimes counterproductive, to discuss the lack of historical accuracy to the idea of “Christmas” with most denominational and “religiously ignorant”. And don’t judge me because I say “ignorant” – it means they just do not know, and often make massive assumptions.
    My Ex-wife’s family truely believed that preachers were infallible (a holdover of the Roman Catholic and Morman doctrines of the leaders of their cults). They also believed that Christ was born on 25 December, that Mary remained a virgin her entire life, and immersion was simply to join a local religious group, not as taught in the bible.
    I think we should look at what we can do with the fact that more people think about Christ around Chrismas than any other time except Easter. Yes, we have a “religious” calendar that is essentially a design of the Roman Catholic attempt to convert “pagans”, but converting their holy days into “Christian holidays”. However since people do think about Christ on these two holidays, we can teach about the truth. Do not focus first on the errors, but on the truth that is easily taught.
    Think about Peter and the Ethiopian Eunoch – the scripture says he started where the Eunoch was at, and taught him from that point. And when the Eunoch had learned about immersion, and the opportunity was presented, HE asked the question “Here is water, what hinders me from being baptised (immersed)”. In my opinion, that is the way we need to view Christmas, easter, and any other holy day – as an opportunity to teach the love and salvation that Christ offers.
    I have portrayed Santa Claus in our community for over 20 years. And when asked, I never lie – rather I talk about the history of “Santa”, and that how the historical person has been changed. This is done at a level that the listener can understand.
    As a student of Christmas time and traditions, it is at the same time encouraging and frustrating to see how people have twisted the meaning of the time, and tried to teach the love of Christ.
    I hope that this brings everyone a happy and blessed holy day season, and that all are comforted, and protected. As the father of Marines, one in a war zone, it is hard to be “happy” or “merry” when we are concerned about family. Yet, I know my sons are Christians, and pray they are faithful while there.
    Paul J
    December, 2 2011
    The old guard still rails against denominationalism while ignoring the fact that we too in the Church of Christ are a denomination, albeit “in protest,” as Alexander Campbell said more than once. And our molehills, such as Christmas, Easter, IM, and a host of other nonessentials, really are mountains. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad…
    Russ Hicks
    December, 2 2011
    I definitely wouldn’t push the issue so far as to make someone stumble in their faith. However, I feel the judgmental looks when I mention that my family celebrates Christ on Christmas.
    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding scripture, but Romans 14 seems to speak directly to this issue! “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.” (Vs. 5-6)
    As far as I can tell, this passage is saying that it’s OK to celebrate a special day, just remember to give God the glory! Don’t make a holiday out of an idol. Make sure God is always your focus, whether it’s Christmas, Independence Day, or Valentine’s Day!
    Franklin Wood
    December, 2 2011
    Great article Bobby! I will be preaching on Christmas day at Memorial. Any ideas for a topic? 😉 I plan to talk about the birth of Jesus as well as the rest of his life, but my main focus will be on God sending Jesus to us.
    mike avery
    December, 2 2011
    What does God want us to do? How can we know? The Lord’s church is composed of people who worship God His way rather than man’s way (Matt. 15:9). Does God want us to celebrate religious holidays of human origin? Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost? There are many more man-made so-called Christian holidays! Wait a minute! Where is resurrection day in the world’s list? They left out “the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10)! The day Christians gather around the “Lord’s table” (1 Cor. 10:21) to eat the “Lord’s supper” (1 Cor. 11:20), the first day of the week when Christians come together to break bread (Acts 20:7).
    Roy Davison
    December, 2 2011
    If we going to celebrate Christmas in our homes and not with our Christian famiy, what is that saying to our children Some great worship can come out of the birth of Christ and right out of the scripture. Dates are pretty minor compared to the stroy.
    David Bendickson
    December, 2 2011
    When I was growing up in the Church of Christ, it was expected that we even avoid using the expression, “Merry Christmas.” We used the word “holidays” instead. We always had either a sermon or a reminder of why we don’t celebrate Christmas (giving and receiving gifts were okay though).
    In recent years since the holiday has become a political issue (conservatives claiming that there is a war on Christmas though no evidence is presented), many members now expect a sermon and some amount of Christmas activity by the church. It must, however, always be couched within the framework of railing against those who would take Christ out of Christmas and those who don’t use the word “Christmas.” The reason for this reversal is that the issues of conservative politics always trump anything the Bible teaches.
    The truth is that there never has been anything wrong in preaching on the birth of Christ, being reminded of those great spiritual lessons surrounding that event (which can be done at any time of the year). I know of no biblical principle violated when observing the traditions of this civil holiday.
    Harold Williams
    December, 2 2011
    Growing in the Church of Christ in the 60s and 70s, I recall going out caroling, but all we would sing were songs like ‘Jingle Bells’,’Frosty the Snowman’,’Santa Claus is coming to town’, etc. We couldn’t sing any of the songs that mentioned Jesus. How sad!
    It seems that more sensible heads have prevailed in recent years, and I can only rejoice. Who is glorified when people remember and honor Christ, God or Satan?
    James Covington
    December, 2 2011
    When I was a small child and up into my young adult years I attended congregations violently opposed to mentioning Jesus and Christmas, so needless to say, I felt the same way. I felt as if I was one of the elite few Church of Christ members who knew there wasn’t a date in The Bible referencing as to when Jesus was born so I won’t waste my time informing you how stupid you are to believe this “man made” scripture.
    Boy was I ever wrong!
    The congregation I attend now decorates and everything. (no Christmas tree though) Not in the auditorium anyway.
    And nobody gets upset if the song leaders lead Christmas songs.
    I see it in a new light. I figure why not exploit the ignorance, welcome it, embrace it, and spread the word at a time when many are focused on it!
    HELLO….OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS! What a time to practice The Great Commission! HALLELUJAH AMEN HALLELUJAH AMEN!
    December, 2 2011
    I find “our” division on celebrating “Christmas” as a religious holy day, very distressing. We are supposed to be: “…perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgement…” I Corinthians 1:10. Are We? Why not? Perhaps the real issue is that so many of us are not of “…full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses excercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14. I think we ought to use any and all occasions as an opportunity to promote what God’s inspired word says, but at the same time, not: “…be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive: But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” Eph. 4:14 & 15.
    I would recommend that we: “… earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.” Jude 3. Isn’t this something we could be united on and not divided?
    Paul A. Bullock
    December, 2 2011
    Many have given into the world by beginning to go beyond what is written and celebrate this Catholic holiday in a religious way. If people want to get together as families, and give each other gifts, that is fine. Togetherness strengthens families. But we as Christians should not go beyond what is written. 1 Cor 4:6 This holiday comes from the Catholic Church as the scriptures say nothing about it. They give an account of Christ’s birth, but we have no command or example of the church in the first century remembering Christ by His birth. However, He told us to remember Him by his death, burial and resurrection. This we do on the first day of the week according to the divine example of the early church in Acts 20:7. Let’s not go beyond what is written and try to fellowship false teaching by observing a day that the scriptures say nothing about.
    Gary Hatmaker
    December, 2 2011
    I believe that churches should not be involved in celebrating man-made religious holidays. I do not celebrate Christmas at all. If God wanted us to celebrate Jesus’ birth at a particular time each year, the Bible would tell us to do so and would inform us of the day and month Jesus was born. The date December 25, like Christmas trees and many other symbols and traditions, comes from paganism. I believe it is dishonest to deceive children into believing in Santa Claus and attributing semidivine qualities to him. I can remember when my earliest concept of a supernatural hierarchy was God, Jesus Christ, and Santa Claus. My wife and I taught our children that Santa Claus is a game that some people play with children but that we did not think it right to lie to children. Many people lament the commercialism of Christmas, but we just avoid the whole business. One further thought–when churches observe religious holidays they cause division and compromise the gospel. They drive away members who oppose human innovation, and they make their claim to follow the Bible incredible.
    Lawrence Barclay
    December, 3 2011
    Romans 14:1-23 (NIV)
    1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.
    2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
    3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.
    4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
    5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
    6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
    7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.
    8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
    9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
    10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
    11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'”
    12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
    13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.
    14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.
    15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.
    16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.
    17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
    18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
    19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
    20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.
    21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
    22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
    23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
    Linda Hickerson
    December, 3 2011
    The Stop 9 church of Christ in Byesville, Ohio has a free Community Christmas day dinner. This will be their 20th year. Annually they serve and deliver between 300-400 meals. It is one of our best outreach ministries. It is amazing as people of all backgrounds – both rich and poor, educated and uneducated- come and share a meal in order to be with other people on Christmas. This is one way we attempt to put Christ in Christmas.
    woody Biggs
    December, 3 2011
    There are several issues here and not just one and the answers do not always work with the other one. Yes, we are to remember and exalt Christ in our lives Everyday. But, some declare this as His Birthday. With its historical background and variations and then false teachings surrounding it, we do need to speak the truth about his birth (ie. no wisemen at the manger) and we need to teach his coming and ALL the facts surrounding it. As individuals we can do as mentioned in Rom. 14, but as congregations and with all the Mis-information about Jesus and NT teachings in general, we must be careful not to promote false teachings. We do NOT say “don’t think about Jesus in the last week of Dec.” as one has charged, but rather to not have un-authorized special promotions of false teachings. We SHOULD and DO sing about his birth, all year long, about his coming to save us, all year long. There are about 300 songs considered to be Christmas songs and most C of C members don’t know 250 of them. Most songs are not scriptural, some very badly, some worship Mary, some speak of animals talking or drummer boys… Do we include St. Nick or stories of reindeer and such equal to the wisemen and things actually in the bible? So, one of the questions is how FAR do we JOIN IN to Secular and False teachings? Or appear to? It IS a GREAT opportunity to teach the TRUTH about Jesus, his coming, his life, his teachings, his sacrifice, etc.
    Paul Springer
    December, 3 2011
    Free dinners for the homeless are good anytime. They bring people into contact with the church and others in like situations. Unfortunately, Christmas is a depressing time for most people for one reason or the other. When a person asks you, “How was your Christmas” at work for example, and you say “fine, how was yours?” and they say ‘fine’; in most cases either one or both are not being honest. If you take into consideration circumstances of people today-that ideal Christmas is getting as rare as the American dream. Some are going through that first holiday season after a loved one has died; some have lost jobs and have no money for gifts for the kids; some have loved ones that are chronically ill and everybody knows that it is their last holidays with the family-and that chair will be empty next year. Divorce and trying to figure out how to split the time up with the kids. There are more suicides and depression during the holidays than any other time. Maybe America would have been better off to listen to Jesus as to how he wanted to be remembered—‘do this in remembrance of me’ in relating to the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week-rather than remembering Him by His birth and focusing so much on a one month period of time during the year.
    Gary Hatmaker
    December, 3 2011
    Where I preach we do not ignore Christmas but recognize it as a secularized, but religious day for many. It is an excellent time (season) to teach both the meaning of the birth and death of Christ. No one particularly thinks of it as the actual birth day of Jesus. The members have grown beyond that, but they do find the birth story very encouraging. One of the good things this year, is that Christmas falls on the first day of the week when Christians memorialize His death.
    Don R. House
    December, 4 2011
    I preach a sermon series during the month of December that focuses totally on Jesus and what His birth, death, burial and resurrection means to us.
    Our congregation does not decorate the building for Christmas or let Santa visit, but we do talk about Christmas and our members celebrate it in their homes.
    We are worshipping the Lord on the 25th just like every Sunday.
    It is always good to preach about Jesus, but we must remember Christmas is a man made holiday. Sadaly, each year it gets more commercialized.
    Rick Benson
    December, 5 2011
    Brothers and Sisters:
    I was happy to read all of the reader responses regarding the church’s position with respect to Christmas, but I found the most productive and effective statements within the response proposed by Ms. Hickerson. Hers was not a treatise on “what we think”, or “what we typically have done”. She let the Bible speak, focusing on the context of immaterial matters permitted by emotion to become disproportionate in the mind of those who challenge them. There is an important point to be learned here. Christians need to refrain from holding opinions as “defensible positions” and to be more magnanimous in acknowledging those differences with others that, in and of themselves, will not compromise our reward, as they are merely the product of contrasting opinions. We CAN reason together without taking different pathways on EVERY point of disagreement. The New Testament offers that liberty. We just need to invoke it. Thanks Linda.
    Gary Marrs
    December, 5 2011
    I concur that we should; “speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent”. I read NOTHING about man made holidays to be commanded by God an annual day celebrated by Christians. Neither do I find that Pagan holidays were brought forth for the first century Christians to be in the church in any way. Study the origin of these “holidays”, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc. and then find where in the scriptures of God’s holy word where we are to incorporate them into our churches. If we, as Christians, set a day for ourselves to worship God aside from what has been taught in the N.T., that is to be done at our discretion…..but we do NOT bind it on our brethren and bring it into the church as everyone’s holy day(holiday). Seems to me that during these times of year that as members of the churches of Christ we should be teaching against man made/pagan holidays to help those outside the church understand that we are a “peculiar people” following ONLY the word of God and NOT man. We are dedicated to the ONE faith….”if anyone preach another gospel which I have precached unto you, let him be accursed”, read Galatians 1:6-9.
    Marilyn Rommelman
    December, 9 2011
    Why I Observe/Celebrate The Thanksgiving And Christmas Holidays!
    I have been asked on numerous occasions why I choose to celebrate/observe the National Holidays that have religious connotations like Thanksgiving and Christmas since they are not specifically mentioned in the Bible. Some of those who asked me think it is wrong, others have serious doubts about it, and some just did not know either way. The following article will give the reasons why I observe these National Holidays that honor God.
    One. According to the Dictionary the word �holiday� means: �1: holy day 2: a day on which one is exempt from work; specifically: a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event.� The word holiday can mean a �holy day� but, according to the second definition, it can also mean �a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event�. In America the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated more in the sense of the second definition than the first. It is actually in this sense that I observe the day. I do what most people in America do: spend time with the family, eat a Thanksgiving meal, watch football (Detroit Lions & whoever they play), sleep etc. Therefore, I do not observe the Thanksgiving Day as a �holy day� in the strict sense of the words (holy + day). The National Holidays are not �holy + days� per se, but rather days �marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event.� That is the sense in which I observe them. I personally do not know anyone who celebrates/observes Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day in the same sense that the **** observed their holy days in the Old Testament. But since I observe the 4th of July, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and other National Holidays, I see no reason not to observe Thanksgiving and Christmas in the same way. I am glad that we have a day set aside to commemorate our freedom and honor our soldiers, and I am also glad that we have days relating to thanking God and the birth of Jesus. It is much the same way that I refer to the word Sunday. When I refer to Sunday it is not in the sense of �sun + day� (honoring the �sun�), but rather the first day of the week and on the first day of the week there are certain things I do (assemble for worship, etc.) that I do not do on other days and that is the sense in which I observe the National Holidays.Two. It is my understanding that when Paul condemned observing �days and months and seasons and years� (Gal. 4:10), he was condemning those who were attempting to be �JUSTIFIED� by the law of Moses (Gal. 5:4). He was telling those who wanted to bind the law of Moses, which included �circumcision� (Gal. 5:3) and �days, months, and years� (Gal. 4:10), on Christians, as the means of justification, that they had �fallen from grace� (Gal. 5:4). The law of Moses was a �yoke of bondage� and Christians are free from that arrangement (Gal. 5:1). It is my judgment that this is the sense (seeking justification by keeping the law of Moses which commanded them) in which the Bible condemns observing special days. I do not observe our National Holidays in this sense and I never have.Three. God gives the liberty to each Christian to be fully persuaded �in his own mind� concerning observing certain days in other contexts and for other reasons. For example, Paul wrote, �One person esteems one day above another� and �another who esteems every day alike�. Then he adds �Let each be fully convinced in his own mind� (Rom. 14:5-6). These verses clearly teach that a person can �esteem one day above another� if he chooses to, as long as does not condemn those who choose to do otherwise, and that is exactly what I do. I do not demand that anyone observe National Holidays with religious connotations, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, as I do, but I let each one make up his own mind. I am not going to let anyone stop me from observing these days in the way I observe them, and I am not going to demand that any brother/sister start observing the days unless he/she wants to. I choose to honor the days because I think it honors God for our Nation to have National Holidays that focus on giving God thanks and commemorating the birth of Jesus.
    Four. Many (and probably most) of the Christians I know do exactly what those of us who �observe the Thanksgiving Holiday� do. They get together with their families for Thanksgiving meals, churches give out food or make special contributions to worthy causes, and they wish people �Happy Thanksgiving� or �Happy Holiday� etc. If they are not observing the �day� it would be hard for anyone to realize it. It certainly has an �appearance of evil� if it is wrong (I Thess. 5:22, KJV). The same goes for the Christmas holiday. They put up Christmas trees, give gifts, have Santa Claus, sing carols, change services from Wednesday to Tuesday, give Christmas or Holiday fruit baskets, wish people a Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday–which has to Christmas since that is only National Holiday in December that is observed by Christians�and do many other things that those of us who observe the day do.( By the way, it seems a little strange, to say the least, that there are some in our country and, sad to say, even in the church, who think that saying �Happy Holiday� instead of �Merry Christmas� actually changes anything. If I wish someone a �Happy Holiday� in July then I must be referring to �Independence Day� because that is the only National Holiday in July. Therefore, I am wishing them a Happy �Independence Day� whether I like it or not, or whether I actually say it or not, because that is the only Holiday observed. It would seem a little strange to wish them a Happy Holiday, but not be referring to �Independence Day�. If I was opposed to observing �Independence Day� then I would avoid any reference to a �Holiday� altogether. I would also avoid doing the things that others do in celebrating the day�putting up flags, shooting fireworks, etc. The same is true of Thanksgiving and Christmas. If I was opposed to observing these National Holidays then I would avoid using the words �Happy Holiday� that refer solely and only to theses days in the minds of Christians in these months. For example, I do not observe the Jewish holiday �Hanukkah� (�an 8-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem after its defilement by Antiochus of Syria�) that is celebrated/observed by the Jewish people in December. Therefore, I do not say �Merry Hanukkah� or �Happy Holiday� when referring to that day. I avoid it altogether. I do not do what the Jewish people do who celebrate/observe the day, because I personally would not observe the day as a Holiday. And I would purposely avoid doing those things that the Jewish people do, because I would not want anyone to think I was observing it. If, as a Christian, I was opposed to the Christmas Holiday I would not: put up CHRISTMAS trees and CHRISTMAS lights, or send CHRISTMAS/HOLIDAY cards, or give CHRISTMAS gifts, or have CHRISTMAS parties, or change meeting times because of CHRISTMAS eve or CHRISTMAS day, or sing CHRISTMAS carols, or give out CHRISTMAS/HOLIDAY fruit baskets, or wish people a Merry CHRISTMAS� or Happy (CHRISTMAS) Holiday, or do any of the other things that those who celebrate and observe the day typically do. Personally, I would either get in or get out. I would not try to do something that appears to �straddle the fence� or �come down on both sides of the question�. I would either leave it alone altogether, or do like most everyone else does. I would not be comfortable doing the same things that others do, who observe/celebrate the day, and then say that I am not celebrating/observing it.
    Five. I know that there is nothing specifically said in the Bible about our country making Thanksgiving and Christmas National Holidays. But neither is there anything in the Bible that specifically says that we should have the phrase �one nation under God� in our Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, but I am glad to participate in making the pledge, and I am especially proud that I live in a country that has the phrase as part of the pledge. Also, there is nothing in the Bible that specifically says we should have �in God we trust� on our money, but I certainly support the idea and would personally oppose removing the phrase. In the same way, I am glad that I live in a country that has a day set aside to give thanks to God (Thanksgiving) and a day to commemorate the birth of Jesus (Christmas).
    Six. Is there any indication as to what Jesus Himself would do in a similar situation? I believe there might be. Most scholars that I have read agree that the Christmas holiday originated with men (who wanted to honor God) and not specifically from the teaching of the New Testament. But it seems to me that the **** could have had a similar kind of holiday as well. It is known as the �Feast of Dedication� or �Chanukah� or �Hanukah�. You will not find it anywhere in the Old Testament. As far as we know, it originated with man, because it did not come about from a direct statement of God in the Old Testament. It commemorates the deliverance and re-dedication of the temple during the Maccabean period of Jewish history. But what did Jesus do during the Feast of Dedication? (Read John 10:22-24). He evidently did not boycott it. As far as I know, He did not condemn others for observing it. He used it as an opportunity to teach. On a day when the people commemorated their deliverance from Antiochus, Jesus teaches them about Himself. Would I be wrong to do what Jesus did on this occasion? Instead of boycotting Christmas or avoiding it altogether, I see an opportunity to become all things to all men in order to teach them more about Jesus (I Cor. 9:19-22). In my judgment, it is far better to teach about the birth of Jesus, and what His coming means to world, rather than to condemn those who honor His birthday even though most admit that no one actually knows the exact day. It is a great time to teach them how people can be honestly mistaken about things taught in the Bible (such as, three wise men, wise men coming to stable, etc), rather than condemn them for things that are not wrong in and of themselves. In a time when many people are thinking about the baby Jesus, I think it is also an ideal time to teach them about the babe who is now the risen Lord!
    Seven. Since so many in our nation are trying to take God out of everything, I am personally not going to encourage them by opposing, or neglecting, things that focus attention on thanking God and the birth of Jesus. It is also interesting (and disturbing) to me that many in our Nation only want to take Christ out of the Holidays. Some, who would not object to the �Thanksgiving� holiday, do object to the �Christmas� holiday. They would not want to take �Thanks� out of �Thanksgiving�, or �Independence� out of the 4th, or �Veterans� out of �Veterans Day�, or �Those who died for our country� out of �Memorial Day�, etc. But when it comes to Christmas, which is a National Holiday �that commemorates the birth of Christ and is usually observed as a legal holiday�, people want the take Jesus out altogether. There was no �room� for Jesus in the �Inn� in Bethlehem, and more and more people are finding no room for Him in our country and even in some of our Churches. I realize that some in our Churches have honest convictions about leaving Jesus out of it, but in my judgment this is one of the things that they need to reconsider, especially among those who have �Christmas� but do not have �Christ� as part of it. There is probably more objection to the holiday honoring Christ (Christmas), than all of the other holidays combined. I wonder why that is?
    Eight. There is much more in the Bible about the birth of Christ than most people realize, and what better time to teach it than at a time of the year when people are thinking about it. (By the way, most people are going to think more about His birth during the Christmas season than at any other time of the year, whether they want or not. Some are going to think about it positively and focus on His birth and why he came. Others are going to think negatively and how those of us who focus on His birth should not be focusing on His birth. But all are going to think more about it in one way or the other. Some will look at the manger scenes and Christmas things and think that it is �A Most Wonder Time Of The Year�. Others will see the same scenes and think that people should not be thinking about manger scenes and Christmas things, and they will think about how they should not think about it at all. But, regardless of the reason, all will think more about it in one way or the other). I usually speak/think about freedom during the fourth of July week. I usually speak/think about memorials during the week of Memorial Day. I usually speak/think about Thanksgiving during the Thanksgiving Holiday week. So why wouldn�t I speak/think/sing about the birth of Jesus in December. In my judgment, there is no better time of the year to teach about who He is, how He came, and why He came (especially concerning His birth) than at Christmas time. Furthermore, most Christians I know believe it right to preach about the birth of Jesus any time I want to. Therefore, I always want to preach about His birth at Christmas.
    Nine. This, in my opinion, is my main reason for observing the Holidays, especially Christmas. I just finished watching the �Disneyland Christmas Parade� from Orland, Florida. It was a great parade and one of things I was impressed with most was the �Christmas Songs� focusing on the birth of Jesus. People from all races, backgrounds, and religions watched and listened as the performers sang about Jesus and His birth. I saw some of those in the audience singing along with the Stars. They sang: �Away In A Manger� and they called �Jesus� the �little LORD Jesus�. They sang, �O Holy Night� and they said, �It is the night of OUR DEAR SAVIOR�S birth�. There were other songs that put the emphasis on Jesus and His coming into the world as well as why He came. Whether the singers were sincere or not is not mine to say. But like Paul, �whether in sincerity or in truth Christ is preached and I therein rejoice.�
    Of course, I am not saying that other Christians have to agree with me on these matters, but these are my personal views as to why I choose to observe the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
    Finally, I hope all of you have a �Happy Thanksgiving�, and a �Merry Christmas�, or if it makes you feel better���.�Happy Holidays� (or, of course, if you don�t like either greeting, I wish you a �Happy New Year�, there is nothing �religious� about that in the minds of most).
    Wayne Dunaway
    [email protected]
    Wayne Dunaway
    December, 15 2011
    Here are some of my thoughts.
    Joe P
    December, 15 2011
    Romans 14 discusses the honoring of one day as more sacred than another. I think in my childhood we refrained so as not to be a stumbling block to others – the weaker brother.
    I’m glad we have more freedom in this today, though I see an increasing trend to adopt more and more Catholic traditions, which I think are sometimes unnecessary burdens.
    I wish the church cared less about gifts for themselves, expensive homes and cars, vacations and toys and instead gave generously to keep small and large Christian schools, such as Western Christian in Canada or Columbia Christian in Oregon, afloat. I remember a day when we treasured the toys handed down in a family, enjoyed an orange and some nuts and candies in our stockings, and the wealthy sold their homes to fund our schools and moved into simple, lower middle class homes. I’d rather go back to sacrificial living with good stewardship than the opulent church and home celebrations of Christ’s birth that result in kids and adults having so much in the way of toys that nothing means anything to them anymore. I’ve talked with other grandparents who share my thoughts. Please, folks, let’s save our small Christian schools, for Christmas.
    December, 17 2011

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