Speaking of Christmas


Our church doesnˇ¦t have any celebratory activities at Christmas, not in order to be unconventional, but to live according to the teachings of the Bible and examine everything to discover what is Godˇ¦s excellent, perfect and pleasing will.


Christmas originated from the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church as a Mass to commemorate the birth of Jesus. The English word Christmas is derived from the two words Christ and Mass. At the time Constantine legitimized Christianity in 313 AD, the church suddenly went from its persecuted period to its revered period. To gain the peopleˇ¦s acceptance of its faith, the Roman Catholic Church adopted many traditions of heathen religions. A festival meant to invoke the harvest god and the sun god during the Winter Solstice gradually turned into a day to remember the birth of Christ. In 354 AD, the Roman Catholic bishop Liberus officially set December 25 as the birthday of Jesus. Over time, religious customs and symbols from around the world slowly merged into the traditions of Christmas celebration, such as Christmas candlelights, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, Christmas foods etc. All these things bear little relationship with the birth of Jesus.


In the tradition of the Catholic Church there is Saint Nicholas, who is much revered in the Greek and Latin Catholic Churches. Nicholas was a bishop in Asia Minor during the fourth century. He was very generous and charitable, and especially kind to seafarers. He was persecuted and imprisoned for his belief. Later generations exalted him, and scrambled to follow his example of giving presents at Christmas time. In turn, Christian nations in northern Europe gradually assimilated and developed the habit of gift-giving, and so was born the story of Santa Claus. For the industrial-commercial movement of recent years, Santa Claus especially emerged as the perfect promotional hype, producing much momentum for holiday shopping and revelry. The sad part is, people mistakenly take Christmas as commemorating the birthday of Santa Claus, while continually marginalizing the real star of the festival, Jesus Christ, who is not known or remembered.


According to what is written in the Bible, the only church assemblies to remember Jesus Christ are the Lordsˇ¦ Day and Breaking of Bread services. The Early Church gathered together on Sunday (the first day of the week), which is the day of the Lordˇ¦s resurrection, to pray and worship (John 20:19, 1 Corinthians 16:2). Jesus Christ did not instruct His disciples while He was on earth to commemorate and celebrate His birthday, but personally set up the Breaking of Bread service for the church. On the night He was betrayed, at the Feast of Passover, our Lord used unleavened bread and the juice of the grape to signify His precious body and blood, and instructed His disciples (the church) to use the breaking of bread and drinking of the cup to remember how He forsook His body and shed His blood for our sins (Luke 22:9). "ˇ¦This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.ˇ¦ In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ˇĄThis cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.ˇ¦" (1 Corinthians 11:24-25) Two times our Lord said, ˇ§do this in remembrance of me.ˇ¨ We see then that remembering our Lord in the breaking of bread is more worthy of our consideration than remembering His birth.


To this writerˇ¦s comprehension, the other reason our Lord did not tell us to commemorate His birth is because He will come again a second time. Although the birth of Christ was the significant incidence of the Word becoming flesh, it has become history. But His shedding of blood on the cross to redeem sinners continues to be effective now and in the future. When He comes again, He will bring great glory and hope to the saints, because at that time, Christ will be King, and those in the church who overcome will sit with Him on His throne (Revelations 3:21). All activities of celebration and exaltation should be left for the day our Lord returns, so we must now patiently and faithfully await our Lord.


Still, the writer thinks that on this holiday, it is nonetheless splendid for believers in Christ to contemplate the birth of the Saviour, have all sorts of fellowship gatherings, and give gifts or greeting cards to long separated friends and family as expressions of love and concern. This should be done with care, so that our Heavenly Father will be glorified because of our mutual love and thanksgiving.


By: Daniel To