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Pastoral Exhortation - Series of 2011

“O Come, Let Us Adore Him, Christ The Lord!”

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Christmas is just a week away. This year, Christmas falls on a Sunday, and our Christmas service will be held in conjunction with next Sunday’s worship service. It is an occasion when we specially commemorate the birth of Christ. It is a time of joy, for the infinite love of God has been manifested in all its beauty and splendour through Christ. Through His humble birth, we have received the fullness of His grace. Salvation has come to us so rich and free. Let us then come together next Sunday with thanksgiving and praise to God who sent His only begotten Son into this world for our redemption. “O Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”

“Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning,
Jesus, to Thee be all glory giv’n;
Word of the Father, now in the flesh appearing!”

Is the celebration of Christmas a pagan ritual?

Every now and then that question comes up, especially as Christmas Day approaches! So I shall briefly respond to it in this article.

There is no direct command in the Bible to celebrate the birth of Jesus. There is also no indication that He was born on December 25. In fact, the biblical facts indicate that it did not occur during that time of the year. By the way, our Ethiopian brethren, according to the Ethiopian calendar, commemorate Christmas in January! We are not honouring any particular date at all, but simply worshipping Christ, who was born to be our Redeemer, on a day which was traditionally set apart by Christians for that purpose.

It is said that in the Roman Empire, people celebrated a pagan holiday on December 25. On that day, the Christians, who did not want to participate in the pagan feast, started to commemorate the birth of Christ instead. They began to worship the Newborn King, the Lord Jesus Christ! Thus it became the general tradition of Christians everywhere to sing praises to God for the gift of His dear Son as our Saviour. Originally, it was intended to honour the birth of our King, and not Mithras or any of the other mysterious religion cults.

We say unequivocally, to quell all suspicions, that in our Christmas service there is no pagan commemoration whatsoever. On Christmas day, we seek to exalt Christ through our singing and preaching of the Word. Of course, we worship Him every day of the year. But a day is set apart every year to glorify God for Christ’s incarnation.

Setting apart a day for special commemoration and thanksgiving is a biblical tradition. In the Old Testament, God’s people held annual commemorative events of thanksgiving, prayer and worship. One such example is Purim (cf. Esther 9:26-32). Even our Lord Jesus participated in Jewish annual events such as “Feast of the Dedication” or Hanukkah (John 10:22). Hence, we believe that there is nothing wrong with the church holding a special worship service to praise God for the gift of the Saviour.

Of course, we acknowledge that many things that are done today as part of Christmas celebration are abominations (Santa Claus, reindeer, etc.) and we have no pleasure in them. Sadly, modern Christmas celebration has been secularised to make merchandise of it. We must avoid such unbiblical practices at all cost. Instead, we must spend this season of Christmas to spread the good news of Christ by word and deed. Let us show at this time exceptional charity to the work of the Gospel and to the needy and poor. Let us seek the glory of God and not our own pleasure.

Incidentally, Easter has also been traced to Ishtar in the ancient world. But the Christian church coming together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus is hardly anything pagan. We thank God for the resurrection of Christ, which renews us from our sins and give us hope beyond death.

We rejoice in His birth, death and resurrection for the praise of the glory of His grace towards us. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).

Not Santa Claus, but Christ the Lord

Many Christians have desecrated the glory of Christ by singing about Santa Claus. To many, Santa Claus is a god-like figure.

The message of Christ’s incarnation has been so perverted by their stories of Santa’s sudden appearance through the chimney! They have veiled the glorious Gospel story of the gift of salvation by Christ with the stories of Santa’s surprise gift boxes!

Who will you be honouring this Christmas? Christ or Santa Claus? What will be your heart’s desire and joy this Christmas? Christ’s gift of eternal life or Santa’s perishable material gifts?

While Christ draws us to God, Santa draws men to the world. While Christ gives us spiritual gifts, Santa lures us with material gifts. While Christ renews us to be godly, Santa corrupts us to be worldly.

It is Christ the Lord, whom God gave to us, not Santa Claus!

Worship the Lord Jesus Christ! Rejoice in Him and do His will!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

 

 

Pastoral Exhortation