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Glory In the Lowest — 30 Comments

  1. Thank you, Nathan, for this reminder of God's willingness to come down to our level and His power to redeem not only us but our world as well.

    I love the title, which reminds me of the fact that it is the glory of our God to give - and that Jesus left the throne of the universe to become Immanuel, God with us, and to descend to the very lowest point in the universe, the second death, to save us. (See Phil 2:8-11)

  2. Yes, Jesus incarnation into the human race offers redemption, transformation and hope to all people, to all cultures, to all history.
    And yes, people have different ways of focusing on these great events in redemption history. We should not shun the spiritual side of Christmas, but rejoice in the great news!

    Yet, all the paganism taking over Christmas is not good. The last few years I've been employed in retail where Christmas becomes the main focus for two months before it even arrives. Two months of Christmas hype! But there is very, very little "redemption" "salvation" or any Biblical evidence in all that activity, or in the products being bought or sold. It wasn't until I was immersed in the general population "outside the church" that was anticipating Christmas, that I realized just how little all this frenzied activity had to do with Biblical themes.
    Santa is the one "coming" who rewards those who have been "good". We hear much more about "believing in Santa" and hardly nothing about believing in Christ.

    Unless one goes to church, where the focus is on the Biblical theme, the rest of the world can have an extravagant Christmas celebration but totally miss the Biblical bases Christmas supposedly is based upon.

    The problem with adopting pagan customs and "Christianizing" them is that the pagan customs more often than not, take over and crowd out the real.
    It happened to Israel. They were still doing their temple services, while incorporating all manner of pagan worship practices when the Babylonians came and destroyed their city -- God's protection having withdrawn.

    While celebrating Christ's birth (or any other period of His life) is great, and Christmas is an excellent time to share this great gospel news and rejoice in it, we do need to keep ourselves separate from the pagan practices.

    • Thank you for your comment and the warning to not allow the world (or paganism) to shape us when we should let Jesus in us shine out to the world.

      You point us to one extreme. The shunning of Christmas and warning others of its "pagan origins" is the other extreme.

      To deal with Christmas wisely takes thought and prayer. This applies both to how we observe Christmas in the home and in the church.

      You wrote that

      The problem with adopting pagan customs and "Christianizing" them is that the pagan customs more often than not, take over and crowd out the real.

      That is so true, but I don't think that Nathan is promoting the adoption of heathen customs. It seems to me that he is meeting the arguments of those who oppose any recognition of Christmas on the basis of its supposed pagan roots. (I use the term "supposed" advisedly, because there appears to be no genuine historical record indicating that there was a pagan feast predating the Christian celebration of Christmas on December 25.)

      It seems to me that the thesis of this post is the observation that a pagan background is no argument against a current Christian practice. And I mean "Christian." It is up to us to make Christmas Christian and not to be conformed to this world.

      Could you share some ways that you have made Christmas Christian - either in your home or in your church?

  3. 1/I have searched from Genesis to revelation and I could not see nor find any biblical support for Christmas celebration. Not even in the time of the early apostles. So why did they not?

    In Colossians 2:8 Paul writes, see that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition. Did not Christ instruct us on what to celebrate? Do we then believe that if Christ really wanted us to celebrate His Birth that He will leave it to chance? Allow for error?

    2/The author writes about archeological finds of Jewish temples that resemble those of the pagans.
    God gave the Jewish nation a plan of His temple. When Solomon dedicated the original temple, see 1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5; 7, we are told in God's HOLY WORD that fire came down from heaven. It was in line with God's guidance.

    Yes, it does not surprise me that they may find temples in the pattern of the heathen nations around them. Why were the Isrealites always taken into captivity? Is it not because they were never contented with worshipping God in the way He instructed them. The bible said, they continuously committed spiritual whoredom.

    3/God is clear as noted in Isaiah 66, and Genesis, He instituted and created all things. And if we truly believe as noted in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that all scriptures are inspired by God, would God inspire the psalmist against His own WORD as is implied that some of the psalms were adapted from Baal? The bible forbids mixing the profane with the HOLY in Ezekiel 44. In Ezekiel 8:16, was God pleased when some of the people calked by His name decided right in the temple of God to worship God like the pagans did - "in this case facing the east?"

    May God open our eyes to see His will for us and that we do not get distracted.

    • Thank you for your comment, Florence. I shall try to reply to your individual points.

      1/ God gave us guide lines in Scripture, and He expects us to use the minds He gave us to make judgments in how to apply these guide lines today. You can search from Genesis to Revelation and you will find no instruction for men to dress wear pants while women wear dresses. Men also wore dresses aka robes in Bible times. Should we go back to that practice?

      Practically speaking, there are a multitude of things in our lives that are not covered from Genesis to Revelation. We need to be committed to God and open to the Spirit's leading. This blog post is meant to help you consider the subject of how to relate to Christmas. Also please see "The Observance of Christmas."

      2/ The archeological findings regarding the structure of pagan temples appear to pre-date the construction of the Hebrew sanctuary and its services. Why this is so, we don't know. Perhaps ancient people had some vague sense of the heavenly reality and patterned their temples after that and then worshiped according to their own desires, rather than God's. Whatever the reason may be, God did not let the pattern of the pagan temples stop Him from giving Moses instructions for the construction of the temple that would allow Him to live among them. He used the same pattern that people already associated with worship of a deity - except that this temple would be dedicated to the Creator of heaven and earth.

      3/ Your third question deals with inspiration, and it seems to presuppose that God inspired the very words of Scripture. We do not believe this to be so, and it's fairly easy to demonstrate from Scripture itself, but it is too much for a comment.
      The similarity of Psalms to other songs dedicated to "God" (aka Baal) or particular pagan deities may or may not be a matter of adaptation. But if it is a matter of adaptation, it is similar to the adaptations we can find in our own hymn book - of popular tunes being used to sing praise to God. After all, God invented music, and God invented language, so we should not let Satan claim all the beauty in the world. The point again, is that backgrounds don't matter that much. It is what we do now that matters. (If that were not so, we should not dare to pronounce the names of our week or the names of some cars and many items in daily life which are named after pagan deities.)

      • Thank you Inge for your response.

        God has given His people a guide on how to live in all things.

        God in His Holy Word forbids mixing the profane with the HOLY in Ezekiel 44. Note what happened to Aaron's sons, lighting a strange fire. Was it not to honour God? Why was God so angry with them that they were punished instantly? How about Aaron and the Golden calf.

        Yes, the names of the days of week and many others are derived from paganism. The questions we need to ponder on are, do you celebrate these as you do christmas?
        Let us hold on to thus says the Lord and allow God with humility to teach and guide our study of HIS WORD.

        God bless you as together we seek HIM and encourage one another in this race.

        • Thank you for your reply.

          God in His Holy Word forbids mixing the profane with the HOLY in Ezekiel 44.

          Yes, indeed, God forbids mixing the holy with the profane - and for good reason.

          In Eze 44 Ezekiel saw that the temple of God was being used in blatantly worshiping false gods. No one is recommending using the Christmas season to worship false gods. So this is not really relevant.

          Note what happened to Aaron's sons, lighting a strange fire. Was it not to honour God? Why was God so angry with them that they were punished instantly? How about Aaron and the Golden calf.

          These are examples of flagrant violation of God's direct commands. What is really outstanding in this example is the mercy God showed Aaron. We wonder why he was not killed instantly. But, again, these examples have nothing to do with celebrating the incarnation of the Mighty God as a babe in Bethlehem and singing His praises only faintly echoing the glory of the angelic choir that sang for the shepherds who looked forward to His birth.

          Yes, the names of the days of week and many others are derived from paganism. The questions we need to ponder on are, do you celebrate these as you do christmas?

          No one on this blog has suggested to "celebrate Christmas" either as a holy day or any other way. What has been suggested is that pagan backgrounds - such as the background of the days of the week - should not control our behavior today. December 25 is as good a day to praise the Lord as any other. In fact, since the world gives at least lip service to the incarnation of the Mighty God as a baby in Bethlehem it is a magnificent opportunity to tell the gospel to all the world, as Christ commanded. (Remember that "gospel" means "good news," and the good news is that the Creator God became incarnate in humanity to defeat Satan in our place so that those who believe might reign in heaven with Him. There is no better "gospel."

          To sum up once more: There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that we should avoid celebrating the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Quite the contrary. The angels set the example of celebrating His incarnation, and we are privileged to join them.

          As for the pagan trappings of current Christmas celebrations, we should certainly avoid them. Let us remember that any focus on self is the essence of paganism. It elevates self above God. We can do this by focusing on meeting our material needs, our social needs, our emotional needs, etc. Some elevate self by insisting on their own opinions. (See 1 Cor 13:1-5) So it's not as simple as simply avoiding the celebration of the incarnation on December 25.

        • Amen Florence. It is hard to stand for Truth when the whole world believes the lie. Abel too thought he could mix a little of what he liked with a little of what God wanted. This is not God's way.

          Those who are committed to following Pagan customs will have many rationalizations for departing from God's Word. Please continue to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and be prepared to stand alone on some issues of Truth. Jesus had to walk this lonesome path and we are to walk as He did (1 John 2:6).

  4. "Yes, Jesus incarnation into the human race offers redemption, transformation and hope to all people, to all cultures, to all history.
    And yes, people have different ways of focusing on these great events in redemption history. We should not shun the spiritual side of Christmas, but rejoice in the great news!
    Yet, all the paganism taking over Christmas is not good". I have copied the first part of Ulrike's comments because I agree with them entirely.

    However Yesterday at our church we have what is called Children's Church. The services are directed to our children. My concern was that not only was the receiving of gifts displayed, there was a person dressed in Santa Claus clothing with a bag distributing the gifts. The children taking part in this portion of the program were ages three - five, and were all excited about Santa bringing gifts. Jesus being the real gift was the last thing mentioned in this part of the program and getting the children focused on the real reason was a bit difficult.

    I wonder if presenting Santa with gifts should come before or after presenting Jesus as the real gift of Christmas or should Santa be presented at all to children of those ages at church services or am I just being
    "Holier-than-thou". ?

    • We are sad that in your church someone made the mistake of introducing Santa into church. That is truly regrettable and it sends altogether the wrong messages. Christmas offers a wonderful opportunity of giving gifts of gratitude to the Christ who gave His all for us, and the planners at your church altogether missed it.

      It takes thought and effort to neither ignore Christmas nor make it into a pagan celebration. For some help on this see "The Observance of Christmas."

      Now my challenge to you is this: Rather pointing out what is wrong, what can you do to help your church to observe Christmas with Christ at the center? Could you volunteer to help in the planning? For that matter, can you share with us some ways of making Christ the center of Christmas either in the home or in the church or both?

  5. "The many holidays encourage idleness. "
    Last Day Events Page 110 Paragraph2

    I do not know if Mrs. White have Dec25 in mind when she wrote this.
    But I know that Dec25 is considered a holiday and I can safely assume that she thought very carefully every word she wrote.

    The Spirit of Prophecy is truly at work in this passage for we have seen how the church is becoming more and more idle, particularly during this season.

    It was said that December is the time when churches are more emptier and receiving lesser offerings from the members. I do not have time to research and backup the statement with facts and figures. I am just practicing faith on the person whom I trust who said these words.

    Where do people go during this season and where do they spend their money? I am not just talking about the world but I am talking about God's chosen church. I am talking not just about Worship Service but also the midweek services and other church activities. How many families are not present in church for the past few weeks? Why did they pick this season?

    I received a message once that says: "I know you object singing Christmas carols at worship service so I am telling you in advance so that you can prepare to go somewhere". To which I have responded, "I do not object singing Christmas carols at worship service, I prefer to listen to sermon rather than Christmas carols as a message". I still went to that worship service and sing Hymns coming from the 100 series.

    We have a great opportunity to spread the truth and three angels message during this season. Unfortunately, as the years pass by, I do not see it happening. But I do not lose heart, I still pray that our church as a body will realize that instead doing what other churches do, we should do differently, and with more intensity, particularly in this time of the year. Anyone who has an evangelistic series planned this time of the year, let me know. I may consider visiting your church.

    • Dear Nonad, I confess I find some of your post really puzzling. Where in the world do you live that churches are emptier at Christmas than any other time of the year? I have lived in various parts of North America, and the churches are consistently fuller around Christmas than any time of the year other than perhaps Easter. This is particularly true for churches that take some effort to incorporate some recognition of Christmas into their services. Where our churches do not recognize Christmas at all, I've known families to attend church services of other denominations that put on beautiful Christmas programs in honor of the birth of Jesus.

      You made a rather quixotical comment when you wrote:

      Anyone who has an evangelistic series planned this time of the year, let me know. I may consider visiting your church.

      Practical considerations would dictate that a planned "evangelistic series" of the usual type should not try to compete with a popular holiday! Doing so would pretty much guarantee non-attendance not only by the public but also by many of our members.

      Rather, I would think a more practical approach would be to make our services truly center on the great gift of salvation God gave us through Jesus Christ. This would likely include more music and singing than on regular Sabbaths, as well as a Christ-focused sermon. Jesus gave us the commission to tell the Good News to all the world, and we can make our church Christmas observance part of that commission.

      Perhaps you can contribute some positive suggestions in your local church as well as here on how to make the Christmas services more Christ-centered? We would welcome such input.

    • Another thought on the idea of an "evangelistic series" around Christmas time:
      I sometimes think we are totally ignoring what the "evangel" is and therefore what "evangelism" means. The "evangel" is the Good News/ aka the Gospel. It is first and foremost based on the incarnation of the Mighty God as a helpless baby in Bethlehem so that He could conquer sin in our behalf and offer His victory to us.

      So an emphasis on the incarnation is about as "evangelistic" as you can get. Any "evangelism" that does not have this at its center is no evangelism at all but only a sad parody. Unfortunately, as a church we have all too often forgotten the "evangel" in "evangelism" and preached about everything but the incarnation and all that it means.

      So please be assured that any church that focuses on the incarnation and the nativity by the singing of carols and the telling of the incarnation story is, indeed, doing the very best kind of "evangelism" on December 25 or any other day they choose to do so.

  6. I wonder how did anti-paganism become equal in force to keeping the commandments? For some, fighting all things pagan becomes the driving force in life during Christmas and Easter.
    Commercialism in the US is an all year thing so if one time of the year, along with the normal commercialism, we have an emphasis on Christ and His birth, we should take advantage of that.
    I enjoyed the post and Inge's replies to some of the comments.

  7. I was wondering why we always would want Christmas celebration be done on Sabbath services. If we truly want to celebrate Christmas in our churches, why not celebrate it on Christmas Day? If the answer is "we don't truly look at the day but rather the story of Christ's birth told and honored during sabbath day", are we becoming insensitive to other members who don't feel the same way? I seldom praise other churches but at least, they are dedicated on going to churches on Dec25 because with all honesty, they believe it was the day of Christ's birth.

    My suggestion will not line up perfectly with the request because the premise is "to do it on a sabbath".
    The nearest time I have to answer the question of celebrating Christmas on a sabbath is on 2021, but for now, I thank you all for inviting me to post suggestion.

    Every SDA will not object with focusing on Christ on a sabbath day, but not everyone will agree to focus on Christmas on sabbath day. I have no issue also on focusing on Christ's birth on Sabbath, but [redacted] it creates controversy when we do it around December. In as much as most people nowadays would like to talk about Christ's birth on December, I would like also to hear the story of Christ's' birth on July, September or October, on a sabbath day, on any day of the week, there is less if not none of the controversy on those seasons.

    SDA's who don't feel convicted to celebrate with the rest of the world during Christmas will like the idea that we separate our sabbath services from Christmas services, at the very least, the reality is, Christmas has been deeply rooted on Christian churches and it will be impossible to forget them,

    SDA's who feel convicted to celebrate Christmas on sabbath days in December, will probably not like doing it on days other than the Sabbath. I have to guess but maybe it's because it's not practical. I am not sure also if they will reject the idea of going to church on December25. I wish they would since they are promoting Christmas, which is technically defined as celebration of Christ's birth on December25.

    The suggestion to separate Sabbath Worship Service and Christmas Related Services may sound divisive and not unifying, may sound negative instead of positive.
    It maybe puzzling to some but separating the two makes sense to some since we can't deny there is already division in the first place. Most of the response in this post is basically a "response". Contrary to popular belief, we love all people as well and we want to coexist with everyone.

    • Most other churches hold services to commemorate the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve, not December 25, because it seems that Christ was born in the evening or at night, judging by the story of the shepherds. And this year Christmas Eve fell on Sabbath. Thus your suggestion of holding services on that day were already followed this year by many Seventh-day Adventist churches. 🙂

      However, I see nothing in your comment that suggests that you read Nathan's post. He writes of the significance that Jesus took on the nature of sinful man to communicate with us. And, not only that, throughout history, God has used elements of human culture to communicate with us.

      I would also like to hear if churches that make no mention of Christ's birth in December dedicate another Sabbath of the year to celebrate the incarnation - an event so glorious that hosts of angels felt compelled to leave heaven to sing their exultant praises before the only people they could find who were looking forward to the Messiah's birth.

      What a tragedy that some of God's people here on earth are so focused on being against Christmas (for whatever reasons) that they cannot follow the example of the angels and dedicate some time to celebrate the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour as a baby in Bethlehem!

      And it is Christ who should be our focus, not "Christmas," on which you focus your comment. However, there's nothing in the Bible or anywhere else that forbids us to focus on Christ during the world's Christmas season. In fact, ignoring the season altogether can send the message that we do not appreciate the incarnation of our Creator God in the form of a baby in Bethlehem. Is that the kind of message we should be giving to the world in this season?

  8. Story telling has been an essential part of most cultures. For example, the Passover Seder was a time for remembering the exodus for the Jewish people. Children are encouraged to learn and recite or tell the story of the exodus.

    In our modern society we have become lazy at story telling; allowing the media of television, film, and more recently, the Internet to do the story telling for us, with the result that the stories have lost the element of personal involvement.

    Our church services are in danger of losing the experience of story telling too. All too often we have concentrated on putting on a bit of a show, and/or having a sermon that discusses a key doctrine. Story telling is regarded as a bit messy or a bit too light for the church service.

    It is interesting though that as I reach the age described as "grumpy old man", that the church services I remember the most are the ones that were essentially story telling, particularly the stories about Jesus birth, where children were actively involved in the story telling. Story telling should be an integral part of both our own family worship, and our church services, not just one person reading a story, but with as many people as possible telling the story.

    Our own church told the story of Jesus birth a couple of Sabbaths ago. Every child in the church had a part to play, the excitement of seeing your child/grandchild/niece/nephew being actively involved in telling the old old story made for a great sense of community.

  9. Thank you for republishing Nathan’s very interesting and informative article. I found it helpful, and loved the catchy title.
    On Christmas eve I attended a Church of England preservice ‘drinks and niblies’ at the minister’s house before a midnight service. The minister related he had been asked by his older son aged about 8 or 9, if Santa Clause was real. The minister said he had avoided answering so we as older parents offered him our thoughts and advice. As a minister, he knew what he wanted to say about the baby Jesus, because we get his thoughts in his sermons. And he also knew what the group dynamics were among his son’s school friends – that Christmas was for present receiving from Santa.
    You are right Inge ‘To deal with Christmas wisely takes thought and prayer. This applies both to how we observe Christmas in the home and in the church.’

    Sometimes we need counsel and advice from each other though as Christians, because there are times when we don’t feel very wise at the moment, at all. And I have come across some Adventists who say they don’t keep Christmas (or Easter) simply because the bible doesn’t tell us to. I think this is a cop out – when there are children who want to know the truth, and yet are of the age when they believe in fantasy. It does take wisdom with thought and prayer. However sometimes when we are more educated as to the real background of an event such as what Nathan has written about, we as a Christian group are more likely to deal with the Santa question or pagan celebrations much better.
    Godbless today. Mrs A Stolz.

  10. I wont celebrate any festival, I will celebrate Christ's birth and dearth all the days of my life, I will pray and thank God for the gift He gave us in Christ (that is a daily prayer) I don't need a session of giving as a Christian for I am to give and share always. I am a disciple I share the good news all year round. I have been to Adventist churches and homes that celebrate Easter and Christmas and marvelled the concept. Galatians 4:10

    • Thank you for your comment. I don't think the author suggests that you should celebrate any festival. 😉

      However, I find it interesting that the argument you use is the very one used against keeping the seventh-day Sabbath - an argument Seventh-day Adventists reject on two counts:
      1) God set aside the Sabbath day for the particular purpose of special fellowship with Him.
      2) The second reason is a corollary of the first: Though we walk with God every day, it does not preclude a special day for/with Him - any more than being married every day precludes regular intimate times together.

      We do not see Christmas as a holy day. However, many of us appreciate the fact that the world gives at least token attention to the incarnation of our Lord during the Christmas season. And we can do better than giving "token attention." We can ignore all the worldly and materialistic trappings of the season and focus on the inexpressible gift of God to us - the gift of Himself incarnate in Humanity as Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us. Since the angels celebrated the birth of our Saviour with a special concert given to the only people looking for Him, certainly we can remember that celebration every year and praise Him in song and recite the gospel story as recorded in the Bible. 🙂

      And, incidentally, simply singing carols and telling the story of His birth, the foundation of the gospel, is, indeed, evangelism - telling the Good News/gospel. I believe we should do more of that, not less.

  11. Would Jesus celebrate Christmas? Christmas is not biblical, its not of God.

    The Catholic theologian Origin repudiated as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ (The Encyclopedia Brittanica 11th efd. 1910/vol 6 page 293). We all know that Christ was not born Dec 25. There is not a word in the Bible about the precise date of his birth.

    [Redacted quotation lifted from the discredited The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop.]

    [Speculation regarding the pagan origins of Christmas redacted.]

    • Dear Karen,

      We believe that the answer to your first question depends on what you mean by "Christmas." If you refer to the celebration of the incarnation of our Creator God as Immanuel, God With Us, I believe the answer would be a resounding YES! After all, the angels of heaven set an example of celebrating the incarnation of their glorious Lord and commander.

      If you mean celebrating "Christmas" with all the worldly trappings without a thought of the incarnation, the answer would be a somber NO.

      However, we could have a better conversation if you actually responded to something that Nathan wrote. We redacted quotations from Alexander Hislop's discredited The Two Babylons (The book is NOT known for any sort of factual accuracy.) as well as other speculations regarding the pagan origins of Christmas. After all, the argument of the author was that even if the origins of Christmas were pagan, it should not affect how we relate to this holiday today. We determine whether or not our behavior is pagan - not something somebody did thousands of years ago. You may disagree with him, but please respond to what he wrote rather than beginning your own topic.

      We were unable to verify your citing of Origen, so we'll have to take your word for it. But then, Origen considered all birthday celebrations to be sinful. And perhaps that is because Jews did not generally celebrate birthdays. (However, it appears that the sons of Job did celebrate their birthdays, and they lived before there was a Jewish nation. See Job 1:4) Be that as it may, this site is put up by Seventh-day Adventists, and we have a history of not being greatly affected by what the "church fathers" said or believed, preferring to go directly to the Bible.

      We realize full well that we cannot know the exact date of Christ's birth, as the author also suggested. But that does not mean that rejoicing in the incarnation of our Lord is wrong on any day of the year. In fact, the incarnation is the very basis of the gospel which Christ commissioned us to preach to all the world. Thus singing about the incarnation and telling the story as written by the gospel writers is actually fulfilling the commission Christ gave us.

      For a broader picture regarding what we believe in relation to Christmas, please see the post "The Observance of Christmas," written as Christmas messages in 1882 and 1884 by Ellen White, one of the founders of our church.

      For a fairly good recap on the history of Christmas, please see "How December 25 Became Christmas.'

  12. Only God can know the sincerity of Adventists who celebrate Christmas as the rest of the world does. He will judge and I will not.

    My question is, if Adventists are celebrating Christmas to honor Jesus and please God, then why not do so in July, October, or March? And I mean carols, Nativity displays... everything that is done in church on/around December 25th? Please, why not?

    I understand this would be impractical and may not be well-attended by the public or by members but that's not really the point is it? We are not trying to fill our church benches at the expense of honoring and obeying God or we would just do away with the 7th-day Sabbath altogether.

    • Sieg, I believe we should not "celebrate Christmas as the rest of the world does." But neither will I judge anyone.

      Keep in mind that "the rest of the world" pays only token attention to the incarnation and is caught up in the service of self - which is, in itself a form of paganism and far more significant than the supposed "pagan origins' of Christmas.

      As to why not celebrate Christ's birth in July, October or March: That would be just fine, I suppose, but you actually provide good reason for not doing so: It "may not be well-attended by the public or by members." That really is a good point because public worship, as a celebration of the incarnation rightly is, must be designed to attract "the public." And if we want to share the foundation of the gospel, which the incarnation really is, then we should make the event attractive enough to attract those who need to hear it most.

      But I believe there's another good reason not to have a specifically designated celebration of the incarnation in July, October or March. If we did that, don't you think that people would ask us why we are having it at that time, rather than in December? And wouldn't that take the focus off the incarnation and put it on a debatable date?

      • Thank you Inge for your reply. As to your first point, I don't believe that attracting/pleasing the public should take precedence over honoring and sharing Christ's birth, death and resurrection (the Gospel) every month of the year. To the world, we are a peculiar people and that's just the way it has to be if we are going to follow Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14).

        As to your question about how we would explain this to the world, I think it would be a wonderful opportunity to share our belief that Christ's birth is not about Santa or wondering what's in that wrapped present under the tree at home... It's about Jesus... Always.

        • Sieg, I didn't intend to suggest that we should aim to "please" the public, with all that it connotes.

          However, I do believe we should do our utmost to attract the public to Jesus Christ, and our services should be designed accordingly. I believe the best way to honor Christ is to do what He commissioned us to do - to preach the gospel to all the world. I don't think that coming to church and singing together and talking together just enjoying each other's company is what honoring Christ is all about.

          As for being "peculiar people" - I think we should strive very hard not to be "peculiar" in the modern sense, but to attract people to Jesus. And I invite you to accept that fact that when God calls us His "peculiar people," He's actually calling us His "special people," or His "treasured people." Words change meaning, and we can get the wrong idea when we use old translations and apply current meanings to old words. 😉

          As to your last suggestion regarding celebrating Christmas at some odd time of year so we can explain that "Christ's birth is not about Santa" - I consider that we can very well do that in December. No, let me correct that: Our message is a positive one, not a negative one: We proclaim the Good News that the Creator of the universe left His throne to become God With Us, and He wants to take us all home with Him! (We don't need a negative message about "not .. whatever.") The positive message will make the negative one quite unnecessary. 🙂

  13. Let me rephrase the above. I am a Christian, an Adventist who happens to work in retail. It is hard for me to get into the spirit because all I see is money going out fog gifts to make people happy. Nothing about God, it is all what can I buy, and then they bring stuff back because they couldn't afford it in the first place. People are rude at that time, and short tempered. I am glad it is over. Now its tax time and people freak out about money in January because osppepending in December. The things that people do is amazing like go thru the house, gather up what they didn't use, and bring it back knowing they couldn't afford it in the first place.

    • Karin, I can certainly understand your disillusionment with the worldly celebration of Christmas.

      But don't you think it's possible that we can attract a few of those jaded shoppers with something better - a little glimpse of what the birth of a little baby in Bethlehem really meant? By God's grace, we can surely try! I don't think we'll bring them any nearer to Jesus by telling them of the "pagan origins" of Christmas, do you?

      Some of our larger churches go to a great deal of effort to put on elaborate Christmas and/or Easter pageants, and I have heard people criticize these. But I also happen to know some of the people involved in these pageants, and I have heard of how the people who see them are affected. For some it is the first contact with the gospel that they have ever had. And it moved them to tears. We trust that the Holy Spirit, once He gained a little entrance, can keep working on those hearts. And, as for the volunteers - it is a service of love and sacrifice on their part - just a little gift to give back to Him who gave His all.

  14. I give gifts at Christmas time. Let me tell you about two of them.

    We gave a tin of biscuits to our neighbour across the street. He is a pain in the neck and has been a real nuisance in the street this year. He has been threatening other neighbours with violence and for 6 weeks he was forced to live somewhere else and not allowed back in the street. He needs to know that there are people in the street who care for him, even though he has irritated everyone.

    We gave a cake to one of our other neighbours. This was no ordinary cake. It was a special CHIP cake and was not only good for you, it tasted good as well. This neighbour talks to us a lot about healthy living and we decided to give her the treat so she could experience some of the food that we enjoy so much.

    Neither gift cost us very much but both gifts had a purpose.


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