Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Christ-Mass" Thoughts from Spurgeon

Emphasis in the original for the first paragraph. Other emphases added to show my points of greatest agreement.
"We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas. First, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be sung in Latin or in English; and secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Savior's birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. ... It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it. ... Probably the fact is that the "holy" days were arranged to fit in with the heathen festivals. We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Savior was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December.
Nevertheless since, the current of men's thoughts is led this way just now, and I see no evil in the current itself, I shall launch the bark of our discourse upon that stream, and make use of the fact, which I shall neither justify nor condemn, by endeavoring to lead your thoughts in the same direction. Since it is lawful, and even laudable, to meditate upon the incarnation of the Lord upon any day in the year, it cannot be in the power of other men's superstitions to render such a meditation improper for to-day. Regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for the gift of His dear Son."
"Joy Born at Bethlehem," December 24, 1871
THIS is the season of the year when, whether we wish it or not, we are compelled to think of the birth of Christ. I hold it to be one of the greatest absurdities under heaven to think that there is any religion in keeping Christmas-day. There are no probabilities whatever that our Savior Jesus Christ was born on that day and the observance of it is purely of Popish origin; doubtless those who are Catholics have a right to hallow it, but I do not see how consistent Protestants can account it in the least sacred. However, I wish there were ten or a dozen Christmas-days in the year; for there is work enough in the world, and a little more rest would not hurt laboring people. Christmas-day is really a boon to us, particularly as it enables us to assemble round the family hearth and meet our friends once more. Still, although we do not fall exactly in the track of other people, I see no harm in thinking of the incarnation and birth of the Lord Jesus. 
"The Incarnation and Birth of Christ," December 1855

So what's the final point? That there's no reason I see to participate in a cultural mandate, except to capitalize on the fact that other people are more (superstitiously, as Spurgeon put it) receptive to hearing messages about Christ on this day and in this season than in others throughout the year,

...and do what? Preach the Gospel, of course. There's no greater way to spend any day no matter what time of year it is, this side of eternity. There is no purpose in marking this one day as an auspicious holiday for my family, since to me EVERY day is a celebration of Christ's redeeming work on the Cross, His human birth being an incidental necessity to that end, and EVERY day is a day worthy of spending meditating on His goodness and how to serve Him better. The purpose of Christmas, then, as with Pearl Harbor Day, 9-11, 4th of July, Halloween, Valentine's Day, and any other day of celebration or tragedy, is in its utility in reaching people through the avenue of a subject that their minds will by custom and tradition be conditioned to thinking about, more then than at any other time.

The idea that Christ should be celebrated on only ONE day of the year is an abominable absurdity. In a theological sense, I abhor the whole concept of the "present economic arrangement called Christmas." But that doesn't mean I don't find some redeeming value in the fact of its existence. The great expository preaching I've heard on the radio this week is a testament to Spurgeon's insight in the second and third paragraph quoted.

~ Rak Chazak

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