Title: Christmas Cards and Christians
Purpose: To help Christians understand Christmas
- Matt 1:18-25
- Man who changed skin color to truly learn what it was like to be Black, wrote “Black like me” - Wanted to truly understand what it was like.
- That is what the journey Jesus took to earth was like
- We call it the incarnation. So many celebrate it this time of year
- Christmas means so many different things to so many people
- All kinds of people come together to sing (glad, warm happy time)
- Some object to Christmas and will have nothing to do with it
- Some will only observe in secularly, others vice versa, (pointing to Romans 14)
- Where did this all start?
I. History Lesson
- Christmas actually existed before Christ, though it was not called that
- Ancient Germans and Celtic tribes held a festival honor the winter solstice
- Sun, moon, starts, planets all worshipped
- This was to ensure the return of spring
- This period of worship was called the “Yule Season”
- Used holly and mistletoe, evergreen tree & wreaths (signs of perpetual life in the winter)
- All of these pre-Christian relics are still with us, just Christian-ized.
- Word “Christmas” - 11th century from medival “Christ Mass” of Catholics
- Celebrations of Brith of Christ (individual instances) as early as the third century
- Some feel it was a reaction of gnostisicm, to emphasize the humanity of Jesus
- Certain bishops of the church ordered the celebration of the Nativity in the 5th century
- Dec. 25th was used
- Became mixed with the pagan baggage of winter solstice
- We don’t know the date when Jesus was born (probably not Dec 25)
- Birth not celebrated under the direction of the Apostles in the early church
- Many of the symbols in Christams were actually carried over from Pagan practic
II. An informed, balanced response
- I don't believe it proper to reject Christmas and force others to do the same
- If a person is going to reject Christmas outright, they also need to reject the Christmas vacation, bonus, and all the other things that comes with Christmas.
- Don’t ban it, but do understand it
- It would fall under the category of traditions of men (but don’t bind it - Matt 15:6)
- Need to distinguish between “holiday” and “holy-day”
- To view it as a “holy day” is to give the day a meaning God does not
III. Ask the question you should for everything in life. What would Jesus do?
- But Christmas didn’t exist!
- But there is Hannukah “Feast of Lights”, also known as the “feast of dedication”
- Had its origin in the intertestamenal period (400 yr period)
- Temple was captured by Antiochus Epiphanes (sacrificed a pig on altar)
- Judas Maccabees recaptured it and "rededicated" in in 164 B.C.
- To commemorate it, they had the feast of dedication
- Is not mentioned anywhere in your O.T., it has excess baggage as well, just as Christmas does
- So what! Jesus rebuked the people for teaching as doctrine the commands of men
- However, this feast *is* mentioned in the N.T. (John 10:22-24)
- Question: What did Jesus do?
- First, look at what he did NOT do
- He did not condemn their practice
- He did not boycott the celebration
- What he DID do
- Attended the festival
- Used it as an opportunity to teach
- See I Cor. 9 - "All things to all men"
NOTHING IS DEMANDED OR DENOUCNED IN REGARD TO THE OBSERVANCE OF CHRISTMANS AS A *HOLIDAY*
- It may be the only time of year where you maight reach someone
- Use it to teach, and remind people about the true meaning of the incarnation
- That said, I want to use this as an opportunity to teach:
- I received an interesting bit of e-mail concerning Christmas cards which served as the basis for this little object lesson
- This is a time of year when we send Christmas Cards
- It is the one of the few practices not originating in paganism
- Began in 1840’s when young artists would send their work to family & friends to greet
- Today they are for uniting lost lost friends & relatives, reflect on past, and present, future
- Have those tear jerker hallmark commercials and movies
- A Christmas Card is a good illustration of how a person becomes a Christian and lives a Christian life:
I. Have to have a mailing address to mail it
II. Need a Stamp on the Envelope for it to be delievered
- Everyone needs to know where they are going
- Phil 3:14-17
- 2 Tim 4:7-8
III. The stamp must be cancelled and post-marked to show the stamp was bought
- Stamp is bought with a price - Jesus has purchased our stamp
- I Pet 2:21-24
IV. Another item sometimes found on a card (not always) is the return address
- Our sins have been cancelled by Jesus
- I Cor 6:19-20 - The debt we owed we boutght by Jesus at the cross
- Rev. 7:14-17 - Washed robes in the blood
- We put them there, but don’t want them to be returned, but delivered
- We become a new people (Rom 12:2) Trasnformed, do not return
We enjoy getting Christmas Cards, reflect on these things this season
Don’t forget that the birth has no meaning without the death.
Use this as an opportunity to teach kids, family and friends