Memories of being a child and the excitement of the morning and opening gifts. Being a parent and watching excited children open gifts. Being with family, eating good food, snow, cold, a tree, decorations, and the list goes on. Many will awake on Christmas morning, open presents and eat a great meal. Travel the circuit to see all the family, and repeat the same event over again.
But here is the question to ask ourselves; does our Christmas look anything different than the holiday celebrated by the world? Are we celebrating the birth of a Savior, or is he but a plastic figurine on the mantle?
5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6b 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.
Since there was no Christmas celebration when Paul wrote this, it would have to mean something else. In this case there was contention about following Jewish tradition and what would be the Sabbath day. This would be the seventh day of the week. For some, this is Saturday, for others it may be Sunday. Who is right or who is wrong? Paul answers that, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
It is not the specific date, but the conviction, the heart’s intent. Whichever day one chooses is not the problem, it is what you do with that day. “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord…” And add to that Exodus 8:20, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Whatever day you choose, then be committed to it. It is the Lord’s day and it shall be holy.
I would not say these verses from Romans 14 are specific for Christmas, but we can learn from them. If you are going to choose a day to celebrate Christ’s birth, then regard the day for that. And if Christmas which comes on Dec. 25 is that day, then rejoice in Jesus and praise God. If a man does not hold the day sacred to Christ’s birth, then do not claim it as a day for Christ, just go have a merry holiday with the rest of the world.
A Christian claims Christ, but a Christian’s Christmas celebration looks nothing different than the world’s. Should there be a difference? Yes, must be the answer. Where should we start then? If we are persuaded in the day and do it in remembrance and celebration of Christ’s birth what shall we do next? We shall not put Christ back in our holiday, he is bigger than that. But we must take action.
Remember when Jesus went into the temple and found the temple was being dishonored by folks making it more of a market place? He threw over the tables, and called them out for their actions. It’s time we get our priorities straight when it comes to celebrating the birth of Jesus, and there may be some tables that require toppling. This direction may scare some, this would make an unpopular Christmas. I don’t like it either, it scares me because I too may fall miserably short of what I feel God is leading in.
Our first inclination will be to call for excuses. To give reason why we do what we do, that it is for good. I will not say it is wrong, I shall not judge, for God shall be the judge. Moreover, in the middle of all the good we believe we do, is there room for Jesus? Probably not. So we must start instead with Christ on Christmas, then see if anything else fits.
Do not make Him fit into our Christmas, we must fit our schedule and our time into His day if we have been persuaded to make it such. The world wants to simplify Christ. Man wants to compare Jesus, and our relationship with Him, to things found in this world, to the holiday cheer and decorations. There is no true comparison, there is just the story of his birth…
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Born this day, a Savior, Christ the Lord. That is not a sentiment. That is not a holiday. It is not a tree, decorations, presents or food. It is a divine presence, God in the flesh.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
From heaven came praise! Want to celebrate the birth of a Savior, sing out praise and worship to God. Ever woke up on Christmas morning singing praises for a Savior, thanking God for such love, that He sent his Son to this earth? Most have not, they are worried if the ham in the oven will cook in time and wrapping those last few presents. That is not Christmas, that is a holiday of man’s design.
If you are persuaded in your own mind of the day in which to call Christmas, and have chosen to make it above other days as a time of praise to God and celebration, then this is the Christmas story, this is the day’s meaning. It is nothing else and I don’t care what the world says about it, I do not worry what any man would say to the contrary, for I contend it is a simple truth: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Although our society has muddied the message of Christmas through consumerism, myths and empty traditions, we should not let these distract us from appreciating the real meaning of Christmas. Let us take advantage of this opportunity to remember Him, worship Him and faithfully witness of Him. And if there is time (I am sure there will be), enjoy giving to others, enjoy fellowship with family and friends, enjoy the ham and desert, enjoy the holiday. But do that after, not before.
I pray we all celebrate this Christmas morning with eyes like a child, to stand in wonder and amazement over God’s majesty and love.
Chaplain Gerald J. LeFevre
Surry County Sheriff’s Office
Interim Pastor Copeland Baptist Church
Gerald LeFevre is chaplain at the Surry County Sheriff’s Office and serves as interim pastor at Copeland Baptist Church.