Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bah Humbug! Should We Celebrate the Nativity?

“Humbug” is “language or behavior that is false or meant to deceive people.” 

That may give you a whole new perspective on Ebenezer Scrooge’s pooh-poohing of Christmas. He thought Christmas celebration was contrived to deceive people. 

Considering all the trappings that have evolved around Christmas, he might have been onto something.

Semi-related side note for the fun of it:  Here’s a thing of intrigue… Question - what do the following songs have in common? Winter Wonderland, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasing…), Sleigh Ride, Let it Snow, White Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Silver Bells, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, and, There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays? (Answer at the end)

There are a lot of Christians who oppose Christmas celebration because of its pagan and commercial connotations. (i.e., The Dec. 25th birth of Tammuz, the Baal tree of Jeremiah 10:10, Santa Clause, with his Godlike qualities of omniscience and omnipresence, the extreme accompanying commercialism, etc.) Even the name “Christmas” is somewhat dubious. People say, “Keep Christ in Christmas,” I say, take “mas” out of Christmas!

These are usually the same people who don’t like Easter. They aren’t just the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Armstrongites (WWCOG). In colonial America, for example, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in certain places. There are believers whom you know in your churches that are clenching their teeth throughout the holidays because they don’t subscribe to the celebration of Christ’s birth, especially in late December.

But, the question remains, should the nativity of Christ be celebrated? There are those who would argue that the emphasis in the Bible is not on His birth, but on His death and resurrection. Yes, the Passion of our Lord is the foundation of the Gospel, but is the nativity celebration forbidden in Scripture? Is it encouraged by word or example in the Bible?

1.     The Prophets were excited about the birth of the Messiah. They foretold it with great expectation. Isa 7:14, 9:6 and Micah 5:2 are classic examples. 

2.     Simeon lived to see the baby Jesus. Once he celebrated the newborn King’s arrival, his life’s desire was complete and he had no more reason to live on this earth. Luke 2:25, etc. 

3.     Anna prayed and served God in the temple – longing only for the arrival of God on earth. Luke 2:36-38 

4.     The Angels were pretty pumped about the incarnation. You will have a hard time finding as much angelic hubbub as you witness in the Christmas story. They announced, they instructed, they protected, they gathered, they proclaimed and then they warned. No, they didn’t sing, as far as we know. 

5.     The Shepherds were anything but disinterested concerning God’s Gift of a Savior. Just try getting a shepherd to forsake his flock to attend a birth! They did. Luke 2:8-20 

6.     Wise Men from hundreds of miles away had been studying this possibility for generations and convened a caravan to traverse entire nations to celebrate Christmas by the giving of costly gifts. 

7.     Christmas was so special to Mary that she wrote a song! (it wasn’t “Mary did you Know?”) Luke 1:46-55 

8.     Herod, the original Christmas Grinch, was also moved by this heaven-sent, earth-changing episode, but not in a good way. He was not at all enthralled by the prospect of a Bethlehem Manger scene on the courthouse lawn. Christmas literally drove him mad! 

9.     Paul was not one to discount the birth of Christ. Galatians 4:4 

10.  God Himself gifted us with the world’s favorite Bible verse…and it is a Christmas verse. John 3:16   (be sure to read verse 17 also)

No, the Lord was not born on December 25th. Go ahead and have your celebration in September or October, when He was probably born…but people will think you are crazy and it will not help your testimony when you try witnessing to them.

No, the evergreen tree was not part of the décor in the original manger scene. It could be argued that it is a pagan symbol, or that Martin Luther introduced the lighted tree as an object lesson about Christ being the Light of the world. Do what you want with that.

Yes, gift giving regarding the nativity does have biblical roots per the wise men!

Yes, celebration of the coming of the Lord to be born of a virgin, live an exemplary and spotless life, die a substitutionary death and victoriously rise from the dead is honorable and not to be discouraged.

If He had not been born as prophesied, we would not have the opportunity to believe in Him and have everlasting life.

So, yule logs, Kris Kringle, mistletoe, holly, sleigh bells, credit card debt, honey-cured spiral hams and all the other trappings aside, by all means, celebrate the birth of Christ and knock off the “bah humbug!”

Answer to our earlier question: The composers or lyricists of these songs were Jewish! 

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