Image source: BethelChristianReformedChurch
Christmas is a Church tradition invented 1700 years ago by Roman Emperor Constantine. It received the blessing of the Church, when Pope Julius I chose December 25 as the official date to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
The Church wanted to stop the people from celebrating Saturn, as the god who brought back the sun at mid-winter in December, to instead celebrate the God who created the sun and the seasons. Christmas was a simplistic effort to convert the Romans from worshipping Saturn to believing in Jesus.
Since the invention of Christmas, Christians have disagreed about celebrating it or not. Protestant England banned Christmas from 1647 to 1660; it was banned in Boston, USA, from 1659 to 1856. Christians in many other countries then also refused to celebrate Christmas; they considered Christmas as unholy, with excess consumption, drunkenness, and sexual infidelity.
Christians who celebrate Christmas, see an opportunity to preach Jesus. The Bible teacher Doug Batchelor in a video on YouTube titled “Should a Christian Celebrate Christmas?” encourages us to seize the moment even if we don’t celebrate Christmas. We see Jesus seize the moment in John Chapter 10 during the celebration of Hannukah, a Jewish tradition that falls around Christmas time.
We read in John 10:22-24 (The Message Bible): “They were celebrating Hanukkah just then in Jerusalem. It was winter. Jesus was strolling in the Temple across Solomon’s Porch. The Jews, circling him, said, “How long are you going to keep us guessing? If you’re the Messiah, tell us straight out.”
Hannukah celebrates the cleansing of the Temple, after the Jewish victory over Greek colonizers and their rulers like Antiochus Epiphanes who desecrated the Temple. Jesus went to the Temple to preach, knowing that many people would be there. If you continue to read from verse 25 to the end of John 10, you will see that Jesus made a huge impact. Hannukah was not one of the festivals God asked the Jews to celebrate, they created it for themselves; Jesus seized the moment.
Christians will continue disagreeing on whether we should celebrate Christmas; it is a tradition, it is ok not to celebrate. Other traditions we disagree on include whether we should refer to our priests as pastors, superintendents, apostles, bishops, or popes. While we disagree on celebrating Christmas, let’s seize the moment and talk about Jesus the light of the world.
To God be the glory for creating the sun, moon, and stars, and for creating our days, nights, and seasons, Amen!