Clinton D. Hamilton
This season of the year to many is a joyous occasion that brings the whole family together in a festive spirit. To others this is a prosperous business season with sales on the boom. Commercialism is evident on every hand. Irreverence for things divine and holy can also be observed in the nature of the parties held, the activities engaged in and the spirit which people have their so-called "fun." Still another group devoutly worship and have reverence for a day that they consider holy for they believe Christ was born on December 25. This great divergence of views is not uncommon in our complex and often materialistic society.
There is still another point of view that should be studied. What does the New Testament teach- about Christmas? Since the word Christmas does not occur in the Bible, it is rather evident that it has its origin somewhere else. The idea of the mass of Christ, from which the word Christmas comes, is not in the Bible. In fact, the New Testament knows nothing about masses of any description or kind.
Different dates have been set through the years for the observance of Christmas: January 6, March 25, and December 25. The last date has been observed for some years, but previous to the fifth century A. D., there was no general observance of Christmas at all. Since the observance of such a day has its origin years after the completion of the New Testament, one is forced to conclude that it is not a day designated by the Lord, but is one of human origin. To a Christian this means that it cannot be observed by the authority of Christ.
Details of the birth of Christ are given in the New Testament together with a picture of the joy and happiness attending the event of deity being clothed with flesh. One cannot tell from the scriptures the exact day of His birth. Emphasis in the New Testament is placed on His sacrifice for men, His resurrection and ascension to heaven to mediate for men. Accordingly, Christians, under direction and guidance of the apostles, met on the first day of the week to observe the memorial supper He left (Acts 20:7; 2:42; I Cor. 11:20-33). This supper showed forth His death. We are likewise to observe the memorial showing forth His death and anticipating His second coming.
Divine authority for the observance of any day other than the first day of the week is lacking. When one calls on another to celebrate Christmas as a holy day set apart by the Lord, he is calling on men to observe a day not commanded by the Lord. Those who observe such a day do so without divine authority. Every Christian rejoices in the birth of Christ; it was essential to His earthly ministry and His death. It is not irreverence when we refuse Christmas as a holy day, nor is it a refusal to rejoice in His birth. We are seeking to do what He instructed. This is the reason Christians meet each first day of the week to observe the Lord's Supper. We are commemorating His great triumph over the devil and His great sacrifice for the sins of men. Christians want no man to judge them in respect of holy and feast days observed by human authority alone (Col. 2:16).
Any time of the year is appropriate to emphasize the spirit of giving so wonderfully illustrated in the life and death of Christ. Christians are happy to commend this spirit to men any time of the year. The exchange of gifts, the reunion of families, the stressing of the holy and noble purpose of life are certainly right within themselves and for this reason Christians engage in them. But it should be clearly understood that this is done as no observance of a holy day or as in honor of the actual birthday of Christ.
Let no Christian be guilty of doing the very thing the apostles warned the early Christians against: the observance of days and years without divine authority.