I LOVE CHRISTMAS
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother; and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).
Romans 14:4-6 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in
his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980) was a good and sensible Christian. This morning I will give you the main points of his sermon, “I Love Christmas.” I added some Bible Illustrations . Dr.Rice said:
I love the Christmas season. I find great joy in preaching on the Christmas themes of the angels, the shepherds, the manger, the virgin birth, the wise men. I have great joy in the Christmas carols. There is a joyful, happy note of worship in our home, and thank God, in my heart, through the Christmastime. I love the gathering together of my loved ones and family for Christmas. I
love to give gifts, and I rejoice to be remembered by my loved ones and friends. I love the Christmas season (Dr. John R. Rice, I Love Christmas, Sword of the Lord, 1955, p. 7).
But Dr. Rice points out that some people “feel sour, cantankerous, and full of objections aboutChristmas” (ibid.). They criticize those who celebrate the birth of Christ.
I. They say that Christmas was not Christ’s birthday.
It is true that we do not know the precise day on which Jesus was born. The Bible does not tell us. But that does not make it wrong or sinful to remember the birth of Christ on Christmas Day.
Dr. Rice once knew a little girl who was born February 29, leap year. Since that day only appears every four years, or leap year, he points out that it was not wrong for her parents to celebrate her birthday on February 28, when it was not the actual date of her birth. December 25 is as close to the birthday of Christ as we can come. We love the dear Lord
Jesus, and we want everybody to remember His birth. We want to teach our children about the baby in the manger, about the wise men who came from the East to worship Him, about the angel’s announcement to Mary and the angel chorus who [sang to] the shepherds. And why is not December 25 as good a day for that as any other? Do you think it is wrong to remember the birth of Christ on the day which is as close as we can come to the birthday of
Illustration 1: The Silent Authors of “Silent Night”
Only by happy coincidence did the names of the true authors of the song “Silent Night” come to light—thirty-six years after they wrote it.
The story begins in 1818 in a church in the little Austrian town of Oberndorf. Shortly before Christmas Eve, a mouse ate a hole in the leather bellows of the church organ, effectively silencing it. The itinerant organ mender was not due in town for months, and music was needed for the Christmas Eve service. In three and one-half hours, Franz Gruber, the organist, composed music for a poem written by Josef Mohr, a priest. It began “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” (“Silent Night, Holy Night”). On Christmas Eve, the two men sang their composition accompanied by a guitar and children’s chorus. They were a great success. The following May, when the organ mender turned up, Gruber gave him a copy of the song, which the man then circulated in his travels. By 1831, thirteen years later, the Strasser family quartet was billing “Silent Night” one of their numbers, as a Tyrolean folk song by “authors unknown.”
Time went by, and soon the now-popular song was being attributed to several famous composers. In 1854, the leader of the king’s orchestra in Berlin wrote to the choir director of the Benedictine school in Salzburg, asking for a copy of “Silent Night” by Michael Haydn, brother of the more famous composer Franz Joseph Haydn. The choir director asked a student—who just happened to be Felix Gruber, Franz Gruber’s son—to find a copy. And you can guess the rest.
A Treasury of Bible Illustrations.
II. They say that Christmas only means “Christ’s Mass,” a Catholic holiday to many.
They say that Christmas comes from Christ’s Mass, that it was initiated by Catholics, and that therefore Protestants should not observe it. That objection seems a little foolish to me. [Many of the names of cities and towns in California came from the Catholics. Los Angeles was originally a Catholic name. But we do not think of the Catholics when we use the name “Los Angeles.” We are not thinking about Catholics when we say “San Diego,” or “San Francisco,” or “Sacramento.”] Names mean what they mean, no matter what origin. The Seventh Day Adventists sometimes make a big deal out of the fact that we worship on Sunday, and Sunday comes from the worship of the Sun. I reply that Saturday is named for the worship of the heathen god Saturn! But nobody is thinking of worshipping the Sun when they use the word “Sunday” today. It is foolish to make an artificial distinction when none
exists in the mind and heart of people who observe Christmas. January was named for the Roman god Janus. Are Christians therefore sinning when they call the month by that name?
To every sensible person, Christmas simply means Christmas. It does not mean any kind of Mass. Catholics may observe it with a Mass, but Protestants do not.
Illustration 2: The Shoemaker’s Dream
One of the most beautiful of all Christmas stories was told by the American poet, Edwin Markham, about a cobbler, a godly man who made shoes in the old days. One night the cobbler dreamed that the next day Jesus was coming to visit him. The dream seemed so real that he got up very early the next morning and hurried to the woods, where he gathered green boughs to
decorate his shop for the arrival of so great a Guest.
He waited all morning, but to his disappointment, his shop remained quiet, except for an old man who limped up to the door asking to come in for a few minutes of warmth. While the man was resting, the cobbler noticed that the old fellow’s shoes were worn through. Touched, the cobbler took a new pair from his shelves and saw to it that the stranger was wearing them as he went on his way.
Throughout the afternoon the cobbler waited, but his only visitor was an elderly woman. He had seen her struggling under a heavy load of firewood, and he invited her, too, into his shop to rest.
Then he discovered that for two days she had had nothing to eat; he saw to it that she had a nourishing meal before she went on her way.
As night began to fall, the cobbler heard a child crying outside his door. The child was lost and afraid. The cobbler went out, soothed the youngster’s tears and, with the little hand in his, took the child home.
When he returned, the cobbler was sad. He was convinced that while he had been away he had missed the visit of his Lord. Now he lived through the moments as he had imagined them: the knock, the latch lifted, the radiant face, the offered cup. He would have kissed the hands where the nails had been, washed the feet where the spikes had entered. Then the Lord would have sat and talked to him.
In his anguish, the cobbler cried out, “Why is it, Lord, that Your feet delay. Have you forgotten that this was the day?” Then, soft in the silence a voice he heard:
“Lift up your heart for I kept My word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times My shadow was on your floor.
I was the man with the bruised feet.
I was the woman you gave food to eat,
I was the child on the homeless street.”
A Treasury of Bible Illustrations.
III. They say that Christmas was a former heathen holiday.
I think that Christmas was a former heathen holiday. This argument is not important. The heathen people did something on every day. They had ceremonies about sowing and reaping, about the solstices, and new moons. So, if heathen people used the twenty-fifth of December for idolatry, why shouldn’t Christians now use it to honor Jesus Christ and His birth? No matter what day we use to remember Christ’s birth, it will be a day someone else
used for bad reasons. But, thank God, all days belong to Jesus Christ now, and no day belongs to heathen gods, including December 25th! December 25th should be used to honor Him, too, in one way or another.
Illustration 3: Early Christmas Happenings
Christmas was first celebrated in the year 98, but it was forty years later before it was officially adopted as a Christian festival: nor was it until about the fifth century that the day of its celebration became permanently fixed on the 25th of December. Up to that time it had been irregularly observed at various times of the year—in December, in April, and in May, but most frequently in January. Clovis, the first Christian King of France, was baptized on Christmas Day, 496. Gilles de Retz, of France, the original “Bluebeard,” was executed on Christmas Day, 1440, in atonement for a multitude of crimes, which included the killing of six wives, from which the popular nursery story is derived. The Pilgrim Fathers, who condemned all church festivals, spent their first Christmas in America working hard all day long amid cold and stormy weather, and commenced the building of the first house in Plymouth 1620.
It is a significant fact that no great battles were fought on Christmas Day. They have occurred on the 24th and 26th of December, but the anniversary of the advent of Peace on Earth has ever been observed by a cessation of hostilities.
In history Christmas has been a very remarkable day. It was on Christmas Day that Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the Holy Empire in the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelie. On Christmas Day, in the year 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
IV. They say that Christmas trees and decorations are an abomination.
Some people say that the Bible forbids Christmas trees in Jeremiah 10:3-4. But that Scripture does not speak of Christmas trees. It speaks of an idol made out of wood, covered with silver and gold. And the rest of the Scripture tells how elaborately and expensively the idol is made of silver and gold, and dressed in purple. [ Note: this passage could not be speaking of Christmas trees for two reasons (1) there was no Christmas and no Christmas trees in Jeremiah’s day (2) no one today worships a Christmas tree.] No, the Bible
does not forbid Christmas trees. [They are no more sinful than the bouquet of flowers that many people have in their homes and churches at Christmas time.] Is there any harm in decorating the house with holly, or mistletoe, or other evergreens? No more than decorating the house with pumpkins and cornstalks at Thanksgiving time! No more than decorating graves with flowers on Memorial Day! Surely God is not displeased if we pay attention to some of His natural beauties.
[ it is said that the Christmas tree came from the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther seeing stars shining through the leaves of a pine tree, which he brought into the house and decorated with candles, to remind him of the star that shone when Jesus was born. If that legend is true, then the Christmas tree is of Protestant origin.]
I love Christmas and Christmas decorations, and I do not think they are wrong. They are only an expression of the joy that is in my heart when I think how God became a man, how the Creator became a baby, how “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).
V. They object to Christmas because of worldliness and unchristian revelry that takes place during the holidays.
It is true that many people do not honor Jesus Christ at Christmas. I think they greatly sin. Sometimes people tell the silly lie about Santa Claus and deceive little children with aheathen legend, when they should tell about the dear Lord Jesus. I think that is wickedness.
A lie is always wrong and always hateful to God. Deceit is the poorest possible way to honor the birth of Jesus. Certainly to deceive little children with a lie about Santa Claus is a sin. No Christian ought to condone it. Yes, people often dishonor God at Christmas. I am sorry they do. I hope no Christian who hears this sermon will grieve God by such sins.
But we should not turn Christmas over to Satan and wicked people because some people sin at Christmas. Should we give up Sunday because it is often misused? There is more drunkenness on Sunday than any other day of the week. There is more revelry. Should Christians therefore give up Sunday and count it as the Devil’s day? Certainly not! There are a great many people who teach that baptism is essential to salvation. They give more honor
to the water than to the Blood of Christ. That is wrong. But should we, therefore, disobey
Jesus Christ about baptism because some have overstressed it and have held false doctrine about it? Certainly not! The second coming of Christ has been a greatly abused and perverted doctrine with many. False cults have greatly perverted the doctrine of Christ’s coming. People set dates. Should the rest of us, then, ignore the clear Bible doctrine of Christ’s imminent second coming because the doctrine has been abused? Certainly not!
And we should not ignore the Bible doctrine of the fulness of the Spirit simply because many people associate it with talking in tongues and with sinless perfection.
In the same way, we would be very foolish if we turned Christmas over to Satan and worldly people. If the world has a Christmas of wild parties, let us make it a day of Christian love and fellowship, and a day that honors Christ!
Do other people make giving of gifts a mere form? Well, it does not need to be for Christians. Christians can give gifts that really express love. Is it wrong to have a day of rejoicing? Is it wrong to have a Christmas dinner and send portions to others? No, indeed! When the remnant of Israel went back to the land from Babylonian captivity, under Nehemiah, the law was read and explained, and the people wept. But it was a time to rejoice rather than weep,
so Nehemiah said: “This day is holy unto the Lord your God: mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is
holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:9-10).
Then verse 12 says:
“And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them” (Nehemiah 8:12).
Since those Israelites honored God by having a day of joy and feasting and of sending portions to others because the worship of God had been restored, then Christians today are right to have a day of rejoicing over the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ!
Yes, I love Christmas! I feel near to God at Christmastime. I love the Word of God at Christmas. I urge sinners to accept God’s great Christmas gift of Jesus at Christmastime.
Let us have, then, a happy Christmas, and make Christ supreme on this day which we remember in honor of His birth!
Jesus Christ is the reason for the season. I find no fault in celebrating Christmas specially if you celebrate it remembering, honoring, worshipping the Lord, showing love to your fellowmen, and avoiding carnal and worldly things.