I have religious friends and kinfolk who beleive in good conscience that Christmas can be celebrated, but only – as the traditional term in the prayer between the Lord’s Supper and collection goes – “separate and apart” from any religious connotation.
It’s okay, in other words, to exchange gifts and take your children to sit on Santa’s lap at the mall – but it is condemned by the silence of scripture to mention the gifts of the visiting Magi, or to talk about St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra.
The logic of this conclusion simply escapes me.
Jesus celebrated traditions that predated His incarnation. He went to temple … well, to synagogue. Nowhere in Old Testament scripture is synagogue required, authorized or condemned. Does Jesus stand condemned for violating the silence of scripture?
He also clearly opposed the then-current teaching about keeping the Sabbath – which was, scripturally, to be kept holy to the Lord – in order to heal a man on that day of rest. He even seemed to advocate rescuing an unfortunate animal on the Sabbath; for He is Lord of the Sabbath, and it was made for man – not vice-versa. Does Jesus stand condemned for violating the clear instruction of scripture?
When angels in heavenly host sang so loudly at the birth of the Savior-King that shepherds could hear them in their fields that night, were they in violation of keeping heaven’s silence? Or if they had withheld their praise and celebration, would the rocks and stones themselves begun to sing – as Jesus said during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem years later?
And when we give gifts, do we not imitate our Lord Jesus, His Father and His Spirit – who have made an eternal career of gifting mankind with what we need most? Do we not mimic the generosity of the Christ who gave up everything in heaven to be born, live, teach, die and live again among us?
Christmas a merely secular holiday?