One of the major challenges we have as the Church in 2014, is we are living in the hyper information age. In that this generation through being connected to the internet and social media is relentlessly bombarded with vast amounts of information on a daily basis. The biggest challenge with that is two things 1) Not all the information that we are bombard with on the internet is accurate, in fact a large amount of it is false. 2) People believe anything that is written and published on the internet. The scripture 1 John 4:1 does not only apply to false teachers only, but to any source of information: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
As Christians we need to become more analytical and less superstitious. In that now more than ever with information flying past our eyes 24/7 we have to be able to analyse just how accurate it is before we believe it . Befefore we rush to post it on our social media and get others to believe in an inaccurate position, we must test the accuracy of what is being presented.
Todays’ post is concerning Christmas, and I was inspired to write after seeing a small group of friends on my Facebook timeline posting arguments to the effect that Christmas is demonic. Around this time of the year, there are some hardline Christians who take the position that Christmas is demonic and shouldn’t be observed. Here are just a few points on Christmas I would like to share with you.
- What is the literal Meaning of Christmas? The Merriam – Webster Dictionary defines Christmas as : a Christian feast on December 25 or among some Eastern Orthodox Christians on January 7 that commemorates the birth of Christ and is usually observed as a legal holiday. Just based on this definition you can see that there are actually two Christmas days, depending on which side of the orthodox calendar you are. The word Christmas is a compound word which means Christ’s Mass. In the name we can find the source and foundation of this season.
- What is the original source and reason for Christmas? For modern day Christians without any exposure to Christian orthodoxy, the term Mass in Christ’s Mass will not resonate. The Catholic Church and other orthodox churches every year function under a structure called the Liturgical Cycle or Liturgical Year. In simple terms, public worship, is scripted to fit a fixed calendar throughout the year. To further simplify it Christmas is a designated Church service on an Othordox church calendar. The ultimate lowest denominator for Christmas is it’s a church service where the focus of worship is going to centre around the scriptures concerning the birth of our Lord. Liturgical Cycle Churches do not preach from random scriptures, they use a Lectionary, which has specific scriptures all churches must preach from throughout the year. So when Christmas comes, the lectionary has set scriptures to preach from concerning the birth of Jesus. So in it’s literal smallest denominator Christmas is a church service that has now been turned into a legal holiday.
- When did Christmas start? Christmas was placed on the Liturgical calendar as early as the 4th Century, December 25 in Rome. The key thing to know here is that the date is not attempt to prove Jesus’ birthday, but view it as an entry in a church calendar, with other worship events observed too. The reason why a liturgical calendar is employed is The liturgical calendar provides a structure for the Church’s collective memory, a way of consecrating human experience of time in the celebration of God’s work – in Christ.
- Is Christmas Jesus’ Birthday? The exact year, month or date of the birth of Jesus is not known. Christmas is not an attempt to define the date that Jesus was born, but a day in a church calendar to remember and celebrate his birth. It is estimated that Jesus was born between 7 and 4 BC, apart from that, there is no clear date.
- Does Xmas cancel CHRIST from Christmas? This one is a major can of worms. There is a common belief that when you write Xmass you are removing Christ from Christmas. This position is in accurate. Writing Xmas does not remove Christ from Christmas simply because The “X” is actually indicating the Greek letter “Chi”, which is short for the Greek meaning “Christ”. The difference between “Xmas” and “Christmas” is their lettering. The use of Xmas dates as far back as the 16th century. It is not part of a modern day conspiracy to remove Christ from Christmas.
- Is Christmas a biblical command? The first thing I have to deal with here, is that Christmas is not a day designated by God for man to celebrate the birth of his son. There is no scripture in the bible which commands us to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. It is a man made event, I will go further to suggest that whether you celebrate it or not you are not sin. Our job is to believe in the deity of Jesus that God came from heaven to earth, manifested in the flesh, died on the cross for our sins and rose again. Celebrating Christmas doesn’t get you saved indeed and in fact, everyday we must celebrate that he was born, he lived, he died and rose again. There is no scripture which says thou shalt celebrate Christmas.
- What about Santa Claus? Concerning Santa, I have some serious concerns. The origin of the concept is derived from the life of a 4th century Greek Bishop by the name of Saint Nicholas of Myra. He was famous for his generosity in particular his giving of gifts to the poor. If the current incarnation of Santa Clause was only based on St Nicholas I would have no problem with him. But the stumbling block comes with how the current version was formed. The current version is a mix of St Nicholas and a pagan god called Odin (this name will resonate with those who are fans of the movie THOR, odin is his father). During the Christianization of Germanic Europe, major elements o were mixed with St Nicholas in particular his current looks. In time with the commercialisation and secularisation of the day, Santa has become the face of Christmas as opposed to Jesus. But be that as it may, Santa Claus is just a concept not a demon, which personally I will not promote in my home. From day one we are not doing Santa, we are buying and exchanging gifts as a family and thanking God for Him blessing us with the provision.
- Is Jesus being pushed out of Christmas? Through the commercialisation of Christmas, we can indeed argue that Jesus is being sidelined by corporations and governments, which push concepts like “Happy Holidays as opposed to Merry Christmas” or you will see more pictures of Santa than of Jesus in a manger. Like we stated earlier, Christmas is a church service, so the purpose of the holiday is for people to got to church and hear about how God manifested in the flesh. Be that as it may, secular corporations and governments are free to do that, in no way does Jesus lose sleep over that neither should we. Anything that is done to secularise Christmas cannot change the fact that Jesus came, manifested in human flesh. Waste no energy engaging in battles for Christmas, celebrate with your family and love your God.
In conclusion, Christmas is not demonic and as Christians we are free to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Have a blessed holiday.
Pastor Israel Phiri