The Glorious Church


Tis the season to be Jolly... but how do you balance fact from fiction? Yes, I know Jesus was not born on “Christmas Day” or maybe it’s more correct to say Jesus was most likely not born on Dec 25. You don’t have to go into the origin of Christmas, Mistletoe, Holly wreath, etc., I know this. But, I have gone to Churches where if Dec 25 is on a church day, they preach against paganism, and there sure are a lot of confused and discouraged visitors, especially children. I have also gone to churches where they go as far as putting up a Christmas tree and bring in Santa to hand out gifts to the children, there you see a lot of confuse Christians.

What’s a good Christian response to “Merry Christmas”?
“I don’t believe in Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”?

Every “Merry Christmas” is an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus that I don’t want to waste.
I want to be a true witness, and not compromise my faith, any suggestions?

I mentioned it at breakfast this morning, my son said just say “God Bless you”.

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Comment by Donnie Gillum on December 24, 2009 at 11:40am
Hey Y’all, I got in on this one late. It is interesting indeed. And…Bro. Dave, I must say I like your admonitions to the church in Carlisle and may copy and pass out to our home-group if you don’t mind.

The way my wife and I have done this over the years is as follows: Since we are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus, we decided to try to focus on the birth instead of the little jolly fat man in the red suit. Eventually, my wife and three daughters made a large ceramic nativity scene (it’s not all biblical – the wise men are there). It is put on a table and decorated with lights etc. and our gifts all under and around the table. One thing is different. The baby Jesus was not in the scene at all. Mommy had Him hid away somewhere until Christmas Eve. The girls knew we would not be opening gifts until baby Jesus showed up in the manger…thus they kept an eye often upon it.

When He did show up…it was time to celebrate. I would do the scriptural readings from Luke and Matthew and explain where Jesus really was when the wise men came etc. Then we would open gifts etc. eat cookies and stuff made for the occasion.

We don’t do the Santa stuff, and never had a tree since it took the focus away from the nativity, especially if the gifts were under it…and I have always explained to the girls since they were little that Santa Claus, reindeer and elves have absolutely nothing to do with the birth of Christ.

This year I now have two sons-in-law. I plan on them helping with the reading of the Christmas story. So…this is how it is done at the Gillum household. Many people have commented on how good of and idea it is. And when people find out, if it is not a witness, it is at least a very good tool for opening up good conversation about the Lord.

At any rate, no matter how you see it, Merry Christmas from our household to yours!

Good Health and God Bless to y’all!
Comment by David Huston on December 22, 2009 at 8:58am
We have always taught that Christmas is not a religious holiday (indeed there are no true religious holidays), but can be thought of as merely an American tradition. We see it as a nice opportunity at the end of the year when life can slow down a bit and we can spend some special time with friends and family, similar to Thanksgiving and the 4th of July. On the 4th we shoot off fireworks, on T-day we eat a plate full of turkey, and on Christmas we decorate a tree and exchange gifts. To us this has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus.

On the other hand, from a spiritual perspective, we would like to think that we celebrate the birth of Jesus everyday (just as we also celebrate His death and resurrection). This ought to be reflected in the way we live. And if it is appropriate to remember His birth every day, then it makes no sense to deliberately not remember it on December 25. Since we don't know precisely when Jesus was born, obviously God did not consider recognizing the precise day to be important. But we have found that by going along with the tradition, we get a lot of mileage with people. We have a committed couple in our assembly who got connected with us by attending a Christmas puppet show we put on one year. We have also made inroads with people by delivering Christmas cookies to their homes over the Christmas season. Certainly we can deliver cookies any time of the year, but any time includes the last two weeks of December, so that's when we do it.

To me, moderation is the key. For what they're worth, here are a few thoughts I distributed to the members of our assembly a few years ago:

Thoughts On Christmas

And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Christmas can be a nice time of year for getting together with family and friends. It can also be an opportunity to teach your children about the blessedness of giving (as opposed to receiving) and to help them overcome their childish tendencies toward selfishness and materialism. Here are some suggestions:

1. No Santa Claus, no elves, no sleighs, and no delivery of toys down the chimney on Christmas Eve. Explain to your children that Santa is a story-book character that some children believe in. But we know that he is only a made-up character. We do not need to condemn others for their participation in the Santa cult, but neither do we need to give Santa any credibility at all with our children. He is really just a substitute for Jesus.

2. Do not ask your children what they want for Christmas. Do not allow your children to tell you what they want for Christmas. Do not allow your children to make a Christmas wish list. The whole emphasis should be on what they will be buying as gifts for others, not what gifts they will be getting. Spare them future struggles with the selfish pursuit of material things by not allowing them as children to get all wrapped up in the spirit of getting.

3. Give your children an age appropriate allowance and require them to save a portion of it so they will have some money to buy things for other people. This is very important training. If necessary, you can supplement their savings around the first of December so they will have adequate funds to buy gifts for each of the important people in their life.

4. On Christmas morning, don’t let your children just rip into their presents. Instead, keep them calm and require them to let others open their gifts ahead of them. Talk to them about finding happiness in the happiness that others are experiencing.

5. Require your children to thank everyone who gave them a gift and to send out thank you notes to everyone outside the home who gave them a gift. The Bible warns that in the last days people will be “unthankful” (2 Timothy 3:2). This is the spirit of our age. To overcome it you must teach your children to be thankful.

6. Do not go into debt over Christmas. Keep it in moderation. Getting lots of stuff is not nearly as important as spending quality time with the people you love.

Jesus warned, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15). The worldly practice of Christmas is calculated to instill the exact opposite philosophy in children. It teaches them that the most important thing in life is what you get, not what you give. It teaches them to be self-centered and greedy. It teaches them to fixate on the temporal rather than the spiritual. Let’s not fall into this snare and make living for God harder for our children than it needs to be.

Merry Christmas to all!
Comment by Alex Thornhill on December 21, 2009 at 8:59pm
Interesting phrases you have, I certainly can see where they could open up a conversation where you could share the Gospel. I have a constant hang-up about doing anything that would seem to promote xmas. So I don't try to get people to think about the birth of Christ around this time because HE was not born around this time. Everyone that knows me knows that I'm a Christian, and when they find out I don't celebrate xmas, and when they learn that I'm not a JW then it gets them all confused and I don't mind the confusion because I figure the things of GOD are so high above our own thoughts anyways that to get people to think "Wow, maybe everything I know is wrong" isn't such a bad idea. So I catch people off guard as the Christian who doesn't celebrate xmas, and then I share the Gospel.

I'm open to the possibility that I am too dogmatic about this issue though. I would be very curious to hear of the successes in sharing the Gospel, during the holidays, that my brothers have had, whether using or not using the xmas season.

-Bro. Alex
Comment by Manuel A. Hernandez on December 21, 2009 at 8:32pm
Thanks Brother Alex. So when someone says Merry Christmas you say...
...and a Happy New Year!
What I'm looking for something like... "So glad He came to save me!"
Or "Boy, didn't God catch us all off gaurd?" or "What's a manger?"
Something that will quickly direct them to Jesus.
PS: Don't take an ax to the tree, the Sierra Club will get you.
Comment by Alex Thornhill on December 21, 2009 at 7:27pm
I love this topic, because although I came to an understanding about xmas about 4 years ago, I have phased out xmas and not "taken an ax to it". This year, I am at the point where my relatives all received a letter to not get me any gifts, and I briefly explained why I do not celebrate xmas, and I put the first six verses of Jeremiah 10 at the end of my letter, so that they could see where I draw my conclusions. I will be around for dinner, but when I have a family of my own I will not go to xmas dinners as to not cause confusion.

With all of that said, I know people are in different places, and some phase things out and some don't and some preach strongly against it and some don't preach against xmas at all.

In my assembly, my pastor seems to ignore xmas, and I like this approach. I see every opportunity to say "Happy New Years" or to tell people, when they ask me of my xmas plans to explain that I don't celebrate xmas, and when people ask why I say xmas that is an opportunity to share the Gospel. People ask about xmas and I explain that it has no precedent in the Bible, and with the Bible alone as my rule of faith, and with my desire to be consistent with the apostles (who made no mention of a celebration of Christ's birth) and who would not approve, from my understanding, of the merging of pagan symbols with something concerning the LORD, then there is an opportunity to share the Gospel.

If we ignore xmas as a pagan holiday, while being "ready to give an answer", then I believe people will respect us for our stance.

-Bro. Alex

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