Christmas un-Christmas and our Creedless Christmas Creed

Our preaching minister talks about this time of year being the Christmas un-Christmas time because of the way we have traditionally handled Christmas in the church. You have some people who will get upset if you mention Christmas and others will get upset if you don’t! So what do you do? Well, the answer is simple. You make sure to give the following disclaimer that is our creedless Christmas creed. Every year, all over the country, the same conversation takes place from pulpits and classrooms in Churches of Christ all over the country. It goes something like this.

“Now we all know that this is not really the time Jesus was born. So we really aren’t celebrating his birth at this time of year. But since the rest of the world is recognizing Jesus and his birth this time of the year we have a great opportunity to connect with people. So we are going to talk about it anyway just like we would have if this was the time of the year he was born 2000 years ago. And let’s not forget that we remember Jesus and celebrate him every day of the year.”

Can anyone relate?

0 Responses to Christmas un-Christmas and our Creedless Christmas Creed

  1. Brian says:

    i can respect the conscience of those who sadly have been trained to reject any spiritual/biblical meaning of Christmas, but those who preach that is is sinful to worship baby Jesus make me angry.

  2. Mark says:

    One time I made a lengthy post about this, but ended up not posting it. It’s a very touchy subject. Nothing irks me more than being forced into a situation where I am forced to take action, knowing that no matter what I do, someone is going to be offended by it.

    I hate the disclaimers. Why can’t we just talk about it? To me, Easter is much more frustrating than Christmas, because there’s a pretty good chance it is the actual day. And to make it worse, everyone’s family all comes with them to church because it’s a special day. It’s hard to get up and say, “It’s a special day, but it’s also not.” Arrrrggh!

  3. Yep. I know that creed.

    I decided to take the bull by the horns. So, in partnership with our leadership, our church decided we were going to be a church that recognizes Christmas during the Christmas season. We’re not going to walk through this time of year oblivious to the rest of our culture. Thankfully, our particular congregation is low on the number of cantankerous legalists stuck in all the old debates from yesteryear, so that made the decision a little easier.

    Leadership leads. I’d recommend having a conversation about this in leadership & asking the question, “What kind of church do we want to be in relation to how we deal with the Christmas holiday?”

  4. mattdabbs says:

    At Northwest it really isn’t a leadership issue. It is more a talking about the way things used to be than the way they are today. I am sure that element is still present but they aren’t vocal because they understand what mutual submission is all about and I love them for that. I just wrote this from the perspective of several places I have been and where many people still find themselves today moreso than from a Northwest CofC perspective.

  5. Zacharias says:

    I don’t think the date of Christmas is what is important to the holy day. What is important is the celebration of the moment when God became man, when the Creator of All became a Creation in order to lead to humanity back to sanctity. We should recognize the day not so much as a simple birthday celebration but rather as a celebration of the moment when the salvation of humanity began.

    Just my take on it! Kala Christouyenna!

  6. charleskiser says:

    Ha. You are right on target. I’ve was thoroughly entrenched in the creed as a kid…

    So much so that I included elements of the creed, before having read your post, in a blog post of mine yesterday.

    It’s really quite amazing, isn’t it? People all around the world, in different churches, a part of a non-denominational denomination with no formal structures for liturgy or doctrine–and we hear the same kinds of thing almost verbatim.

    COC magazines, lectures and Christian colleges are pretty powerful tools of communication and influence.

    Hope you’re well. Miss you buddy.

    CK

  7. I don’t normally link to posts in comments on other blogs, however, I just posted something on this on the blog for the congregation with which I work.

    http://franklinchurchofchrist.com/?p=2348

    Perhaps I’m just a “cantankerous legalist”, I try not to be. My goal is not to support legalism. However, I do want to simply surrender myself to Jesus’ will and not try to get Him to surrender to what I want to do just because I want to go along with the majority.

    By the way, nobody is saying don’t worship baby Jesus. The request is to worship Father, Son and Spirit the way God has asked to be worshipped and not make up holy days because we think it is a good idea.

  8. mattdabbs says:

    Edwin,

    Thanks for your comment. Always feel free to post a relevant link here. It is always welcome. I can tell you have put a lot of time and thought into what you wrote and I must say that I love and respect your concern to do things that please God! We agree on that. Let’s work through a bit of what you wrote.

    You say the first problem is which day to choose. Well, the day has already been chosen. I guess we could go around and talk about the good and bad reasons of which days we might choose to celebrate Christ’s birth and incarnation but it is already a done deal. When we look at the Gospels the evidence certainly does point away from December but is that really the point? Is the point really that we try to choose exactly the right day or is the point that we recognize what God did in sending his Son, Jesus the Anointed, to the earth?

    You say if God wanted us to celebrate Christmas he would have told us which day to celebrate (2 Tim 3:16-17). I don’t think that is necessarily valid. God didn’t tell us to meet on Sunday nights or Wednesday nights in particular and yet we do. Shouldn’t God have laid that out more specifically for us to have adopted it? The New Testament says the early Christians met together daily. If we are going to follow things as strictly as you seem to be stating it seems we should at least be meeting together daily.

    The second question you ask in your well written piece is how would we celebrate. You ask some really great and appropriate questions about how well celebrate birthdays and if that should be the same for Jesus. I appreciate the great job you did on pulling together details from pagan ritual that have certainly crept their way into Christmas celebration and certainly should be questioned. On the other hand, these things no longer have any of the meaning associated with them (as you pointed out very well) that they did 1000 years ago. My wife and I have a tree with ornaments on it and I hardly think we are doing anything pagan but I do appreciate your point and I need to consider it further personally.

    I do think Romans 14, which you mentioned in your post is a very relevant verse on this subject. I don’t think we can disallow people to celebrate the birth of Jesus if that is what they are convicted to do. I agree with you that it would be wise to consider the symbolism we use and the history of it and try to find a more Christian way to do so. I have a little bit of a hard time reading you in the second half of the post because it seems like you are saying celebrating it is fine but then you conclude with a plea to get back to scripture and authorization for doing what we do. Does that mean you think we shouldn’t celebrate it because it is not specifically authorized in the New Testament by Paul writing, “And by all means, make sure you celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”? I honestly don’t think we have to have authorization to set aside a special day to recognize and give glory and honor to God for sending Jesus into the world. There are so many things we do in church and in our Christian walk that are not specifically authorized by scripture but are still positive things that we should engage in.

    Thanks again for your input and I appreciate your adding the relevant link to this discussion. Hope to hear from you soon.

  9. JD Eddins says:

    Here are my thoughts, although to be honest this is not what I have always practiced, even until recently. It was alright for the shepherds and wise men to come and worship at the feet of our newborn king. As “people of the book” which records these events, should we behave any differently?

  10. Brian says:

    i personally don’t care about the date, but even the concept of spiritual Christmas (i prefer talking about incarnation than Christmas, since it has so many varied meanings),

    in my church of Christ experience, we didn’t even pick a random date in July to preach, teach, sing, and pray about the birth of Jesus and how amazing it is.

    but in december, we had to hold back any worship towards baby Jesus because it was wrong….

    i feel like i missed out, not on pagan holidays, but on being in awe of the incarnation…

  11. Zacharias says:

    Don’t mean to fill up the comments section, but Brian’s comment made me want to share it here. This is St. John Chrysostom’s Christmas homily written in the year 386. It clearly shows why this saint earned the title of “The Golden Tongued!” (Chrysostom translates to this).

    BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

    Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, He had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God. This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassability, remaining unchanged.

    And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

    Since this heavenly birth cannot be described, neither does His coming amongst us in these days permit of too curious scrutiny. Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to venerate in silence and I accept that this is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech. For with God we look not for the order of nature, but rest our faith in the power of Him who works.

    What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend.

    Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason? That coming amongst us he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see. For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt.

    Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature’. For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.

    What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness.

    For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me.

    Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been ‘in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.

    Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things arc nourished, may receive an infant’s food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.

    To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever. Amen.

  12. WesWoodell says:

    Romans 14:5-6a
    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.
    6a He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord
    (NIV)

  13. Brian says:

    thanks, wes, i know lots of people like to say, “The Bible says and that settles it” but few of us live that…

  14. Brian says:

    thanks zacharias, i read parts of that at our wednesday service. where we sang more non-nativity hymns that nativity hymns, but still read and sang some…

    how about this opinion, we are so concerned with Truth (okay, we should be, but keep reading) that we can’t say too much about the amazing grace of God without adding baptism, repentence etc.

    and we can’t preach too hard on baptism, discipleship, obedience w/o bringing up grace and mercy.

    we shoot ourselves in the foot and can’t ever really get excited about anything…

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