The First Advent Is Good News

angelchoirDuring this time of year much of the world turns its attention to the Bible account of the first Advent of Christ. You can read about it in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. Just as the angels of heaven brought “good news” to the shepherds, this is a good time for us to share the good news of Jesus with our friends and neighbors.

Jesus saw in every soul one to whom must be given the call to His kingdom. He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them in the public streets, in private houses, on the boats, in the synagogue, by the shores of the lake, and at the marriage feast.He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs. He carried His instruction into the household, bringing families in their own homes under the influence of His divine presence. His strong personal sympathy helped to win hearts.–Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 151.

I have been saddened by some of the feedback I have received from professed Christians, saying we should not celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas since He was not born on December 25. They say we should celebrate Jesus every day. I ask, “Isn’t December 25 a day? Why stop sharing Jesus on December 25 just because He was not born on that day? ”

I share Jesus every day. including December 25.

I understand  why many Christian Protestant writers are now referring to the “Advent” instead of “Christmas.” For some Christians who have taken the trouble to search into ancient history or read the research of others, Christmas has pagan connotations, while “Advent” sounds more biblical. 1  That is all well and good, but I am not promoting anything pagan. I am sharing Jesus with my friends around the world. Still I get feedback from vigilante Christians telling me Christmas is pagan and not biblical. I do not publish these comments on my blog posts, because I am trying to share Jesus with those who may not know Him, and such comments would only get in the way. All they would take away are the supposedly pagan associations, and every year thereafter, Christmas would remind them of pagan practices, rather than the birth of a child who was the Son of God who came to save sinners.

Jesus used terms and stories with which the people were familiar – even when the stories were not exactly true. He met the people where they are. By doing this Jesus was not deceiving people. They understood the stories were not “true stories,” but parables. Likewise, today, people are not deceived by Christmas. Most people realize that Jesus was probably not born on December 25.

Today, even worldly people understand the word “Christmas” and can relate to it. They don’t associate Christmas with paganism, and thus the word “Christmas” is  an open door for me to share Jesus. I suppose I could use the word “Advent” instead, but that word is not going to mean anything to a world dying in sin, desperate for the good news of a Savior. “Advent” is a foreign term to them, and if I am going to follow the practices of Jesus, I’m going to use terms people use in their daily lives. Most people look forward to Christmas, and they are more ready to listen to anything about Jesus at that time of year. What a wonderful opportunity to do some extra sharing!

The parables, by means of which He loved to teach lessons of truth, show how open His spirit was to the influences of nature, and how He delighted to gather the spiritual teaching from the surroundings of daily life.

He drew illustrations also from the events of life, facts of experience familiar to the hearers–the leaven, the hid treasure, the pearl, the fishing net, the lost coin, the prodigal son, the houses on the rock and the sand. In His lessons there was something to interest every mind, to appeal to every heart.  –Ellen White, Child Guidance, Pages 51-52 

Remember the parable Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31? It seems that He was adapting an old Egyptian (heathen) folk tale well known to his hearers and making a point that what their society valued was abominable to God. 2  He wasn’t making the point that heaven and hell are in constant communion across “a deep gulf fixed” and that the righteous dead are kept “in Abraham’s bosom.” My point of bringing this up is that Jesus was not concerned with “pagan associations.” He used the story and changed it just enough to suit His own purposes. So may we do with the holidays of our countries. They may not have been designed to honor God, but, by His grace, we can change them so that we do honor God in these holidays.

In order to reach the world we must overcome our narrow-minded thinking. Jesus was always right. He was always theologically correct, but He was also open-minded, and was often grieved by the narrow-minded and bigoted self-righteous church members of his day.

December 25 is not the mark of the beast. December 25 does not oppose the seal of God in any way. December 25 is a day like any other day, about which we can say, like David, “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

(You may be interested in a video by Cindy Tutsch, former Associate Director of the Ellen G. White Estate Associate, on the stand of one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist church took on Christmas.)

My posts do not promote anything pagan. They do not promote Christmas parties with drinking. They do not promote Santa Claus and reindeer or any kind of mythology.

My  posts only promote Jesus and the biblical accounts of His life, sacrifice and resurrection.

Comments concerning what my posts are actually about are most welcome! Comments that would lead those seeking a Savior even closer to God are most welcome.

I don’t want to focus on paganism, but I want to tell the Good News of Jesus by my words and by my life both at Christmas and every day of the year.

How about you?

  1. “Advent” is not a biblical term either. According to the Wikipedia, “Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. “Advent,” Wikipedia, accessed December 18, 2013
  2. For one of the many explanation of this see “The Rich Man and Lazarus, Adventist Perspective (blog), by Andy Hanson, accessed Dec 18, 2013.


The First Advent Is Good News — 9 Comments

  1. Thank you William for this refreshing perspective on Christmas. Sadly, at those times when we believe it is more important to be "right" - that is, Christmas having its origin in pagan practice, therefore its acknowledgement should be aggressively "corrected" whenever with whomever in every situation possible - we lose the opportunity to be effective. May the gentleness of Jesus be our witness to His amazing love for us during this Christmas season. A season during which, as you so correctly stated, individuals are open to a conversation about Him.
    Warm regards, Mike

  2. ** Christmas Traditions **

    Just last night (Friday, December 20), I watched an episode of "My Story, My Song" on HopeTv. (It was a re-broadcast of the Dec 11 "My Story, My Song. Holidays!" You can probably find it in the Dec 11 archives.) In it Kandus Thorp was interviewing Willie and Elaine Oliver, leaders of the General Conference Family Ministries team. They shared Christmas traditions in their family. They shared how they taught their children to focus on giving, rather than receiving. They would pick out some less fortunate families and thoughtfully pick out gifts for them to provide them a joyous Christmas. Elaine shared how they would tell their children to pick out something that they would like to receive for themselves. (But they would not usually give this to their children.) They would also go to a soup kitchen on Christmas day to help serve food to those who came. This is one of the ways they taught their children the spirit of Jesus at Christmas. And, as adults, their children still demonstrate the spirit of giving.

    And that reminds me of one Christmas when our boys were little and our own means were limited. "Christmas Dinner" consisted of a huge fruit salad. And the day's activities consisted of delivering church gift baskets to five families. I'm sure the boys each received one significant gift, as was also our custom. I'm afraid we weren't quite as consistent as the Olivers in making this a yearly tradition. Our regular tradition included a Christmas eve singing carols by candle light and reading the story of the birth of Jesus in the Bible.

    Then today, a friend shared about her visiting one of our schools in the Ukraine, after communism fell. The people in the surrounding area were generally atheist and had very little contact with Christianity. There were/are many orphanages in the area. And the staff went to as many orphanages as they could in the Christmas season to tell the story of Jesus - the only time this was possible in a state orphanage in the Ukraine.

    These are just a couple examples, William, of how believers in various parts of the world practice the spirit of Christ at Christmas. Truly God has provided us with an open door through this largely secular Christmas tradition throughout the world. We just need to walk through it. 🙂

    It would be just lovely if others could share their Christmas traditions or even begin new ones this year and share what they did, are doing or are planning to do.

  3. [Moderator's note: Please remember to us your full name when making comments.]

    Every Christmas season my church always perform a Christmas cantata. This year the sign language department did it. We not only tell the story of His birth, but we also tell the story of the fall in Heaven all the way to the Second Coming of Christ. We display to those persons who may not know these things in the Bible, so that they can have a better understanding and make a decision of whether or not they truly want to go Home. Our lives and our goal should always be to let others know the true reason why Jesus came to this earth. That reason is to restore what the locusts have eaten. Let's take this opportunity to tell others that Jesus loves them and want them to be saved.

  4. Thank you so much for your insights. When I became an Adventist (when I was 50 years old)Christmas was was so special but in a way I had never experience. Then my husband and I moved to another city and church. The word Christmas was never mentioned and no songs about Jesus birth were sung.

    I found this so sad because like you I believe this is the easiest time of the year to talk to people about our Saviour and what He has done for us (me). Our church neighbours must wonder what we believe. There are no lights on or activity in our church on December 25 and we have no programs for them to come to at this time of the year, even if it is out of curiosity.

    I agree that Jesus met the people where they were at, He didn't join in or stay there but He went to them and didn't just wait for them to come to Him.

    My first Adventist church put up a Christmas tree with Angel shaped envelopes and the congregation would put money in them to help the less fortunate and we made up simple invitation on coloured (red & green) construction paper and invited our neighbours to join us for our "Christmas" play and fellowship. Now that to me is having the Christmas spirit or Christ like Spirit.

    Thank once again and may God continue to bless you and your family.


    • Thank you for your kind words Sandy. I am sad about your current church, but glad that your former church was doing exactly what the Spirit of Prophecy tells us to do with Christmas trees to help the poor. May God continue to bless you and your family.

    • H'mm ... your comment makes me think that it might be a good idea to actually have special Christmas Eve services in our churches, as so many other churches do, because that is the time a lot of people get the impulse to go to church, even if they go no other day.

      In the church we currently attend, there is usually a special Christmas program on the Sabbath closest to Christmas, including a special Christmas dinner, but that is not something that meets the needs of the community as well as a Christmas Eve service with a time for fellowship (with food) following. We'll have to think about that for next year. 🙂

      Perhaps you can talk to some people in your current church and share how you see it, perhaps including ideas from this post?

      I'm so happy to hear of a church that still practices precisely what Ellen White recommended so long ago: To put up a Christmas tree and hang our offerings on it for decoration. 🙂 It's a wonderful way to remind our children, as well as ourselves, that we bring our offerings to honor our Redeemer. That is another thing I'll suggest to our church for next year. (I don't think a tree tastefully decorated with other decorations fills the purpose.)

  5. December 25 is like 1844. Both events are correct but the dates are wrong.

    We have different convictions regarding Christmas but it is this event that is bringing the gospel to the world.

    • Merwin,
      It is an insightful observation that both December 25 and 1844 bear some similarity, with correct (known) events (First and second advents) but wrong (unknown) dates.

      There is also a striking difference in that there is no apparent scriptural reference to December 25, but there is unmistakeable reference to 1844. In the latter case we have a correct date, with wrong event initially (later corrected). So there is reason for greater comfort with 1844 than with the questionable December 25.

      The question we face with Christmas is whether it is a critical issue. Unless this is a faith altering matter it seems that some tolerance is advisable.

      Those with a strong conviction to abstain from participation in Christmas need not be ridiculed or made to feel extreme or unchristlike. Scripture does not compel observance of the tradition, notwithstanding the arguable benefits. While spirit of prophecy encourages limited participation in some activities, it does not seem to mandate it.

      For those who are convicted on the wisdom of deliberate participation, guided by the Spirit, these need not be chastised for advancing a supposed pagan agenda. The Holy Spirit works in ways and through means we might think unlikely (Isaiah 55:7-9). God's agenda is to save souls, and what others mean for evil, Jehovah will work for good (Genesis 50:20).

      Whether for or against the celebration of Christmas one thing we should be about is our Father's business. It becomes us to daily seek for opportunities to reveal Christ, on Christmas day and every other day.

      So Merry Christmas to proponents and Happy Holidays to opponents!


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