Christian Pilgrim


Christmas: Satan's Greatest Festival

In the church we are continually being told that Christmas is the biggest Christian festival of the year, one of the best opportunities for evangelism, as many people who would not normally come to church enter its doors. So, we are told, we should get out there and make it as joyous a festival as possible. I’m sorry but I don’t agree.

Firstly, having worked in a hospital toxicology laboratory for fifteen years investigating potential suicides, I know that at the end of December my workload would always increase fivefold. There are so many people out there who absolutely hate Christmas. The pressure gets to them so much that they decide to at least attempt to end their lives. The church needs to wake up and do something about this. It is no good just asking people along to the meetings, neither is it much better when the church arranges free meals for lonely people, just for a day or two over the festive period. Far more needs to be done.

I did know someone who was actually thrown out of his lodgings over Christmas, because the supposedly “Christian” family he was lodging with needed his room to put up visiting family members. He ended up sitting on a bench in the local bus station reading his Bible. Of course God will not forsake us like this.

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”  (Psalm 27:10)

Secondly, it never ceases to amaze me that on the Sunday in Christmas week, the vast majority of churches, at least in the UK, shorten their usual services, many severely curtailing the sermon or dispensing with it altogether, and they cancel all their other midweek meetings.

Surely, Satan is so very happy with all this. The preaching of the gospel, sermons and the usual church activity are all stopped for a week so that the regular church-goers can go and worship their cosy little families instead. No wonder the suicide rate soars. There are so many people in this world who don’t have a family. I remember hearing the actress Thora Hird on the radio programme Desert Island Discs (many years ago now) saying that she was saddened that she got so many letters from people who didn’t even have, as she said, a “second cousin three times removed.” Hers was the only friendly face they ever saw (on their television sets), so they wrote to her.

We are living in a sad world. Far sadder than we want to admit. And what is the church doing about it all? Perpetuating the whole thing by believing that Christmas is a Christian festival, an opportunity for evangelism, a great festival to be enjoyed.

But this is not true. The church needs desperately to blow its own cobwebs away. We need to realise that Christmas is not a Christian festival at all, but a later imposition which the church invented to counteract the pagan winter solstice. It is not in the Bible at all. Oh yes, the Incarnation is there, and a good sermon on the Incarnation is a wonderful topic to preach on, but we are never in the Bible told to remember the Lord’s birth in a festival of any kind. We are told to remember his death in the Communion or Lord’s Supper, but nowhere in the Bible is there a specific call to remember His birth in any way (other than that we should remember all of His life as we can do so from Scripture). Certainly there is no specific date mentioned.

So rather than the church perpetuating the misery of Christmas, it should be proclaiming the truth that you don’t have to celebrate it, the pressure’s off, you can live with a clear conscience by not joining in with everyone else. The burden is removed. Of course we can then go on to tell these poor people that the far larger burden of our sins can also be removed in Christ. That is the true message we should be proclaiming, not trying to force people to celebrate a worldly festival in the name of Christ, but telling people about the freedom from our sins that can be found in Him. This is true joy.

In Charles Dicken’s novel “A Christmas Carol,” the character Ebenezer Scrooge was a miserable, stingy old man who supposedly realised the errors of his ways and became so generous. But if you actually read the novel, Scrooge had Bible texts all over his house. He was a caricature of a Bible-believing Christian. The character Tiny Tim was the universalist Dickens wants us all to be: “God bless us, everyone!” Dickens was extremely anti-Christian. This is of course the message of the world as well, hence the popularity of the novel. But we should not be taken in by such worldly nonsense. We should stick close to our Bibles. Trust in Christ. Not be taken in with worldly ideas, worldly festivals which have no warrant in Scripture. This is the way we should walk in, despite the world.

Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.”  (Jeremiah 10:1-5).