Pastoral Letter December 2013

… the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1.14

Dear Friends,

Many bible–believing Christians are divided on the subject of Christmas. Should we celebrate or mark it at all? Well, we find ourselves with an evangelistic opportunity, so let us use it, but let’s not get carried away with the greed and commercialism of our times. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great Victorian Baptist preacher, was preaching in December 1871, when Christmas Eve fell upon a Sunday. I’m turning the rest of this letter over to his opening remarks that morning, as he was wiser than I will ever be!

“We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called ‘Christmas’: first, because we do not believe in the ‘mass’ at all, … and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Saviour’s birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. Fabricius gives a catalogue of 136 different learned opinions upon the matter; and various divines invent weighty arguments for advocating a date in every month in the year. It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it. Because the day is not known, therefore superstition has fixed it; while, since the day of the death of our Saviour might be determined with much certainty, therefore superstition shifts the date of its observance every year. Where is the method in the madness of the superstitious? Probably the fact is that the holy days were arranged to fit in with heathen festivals. We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December. Nevertheless, since the current of men’s thoughts is led this way just now, and I see no evil in the current itself, I shall launch the bark of our discourse upon that stream, and make use of the fact, which I shall neither justify nor condemn, by endeavouring to lead your thoughts in the same direction. Since it is lawful, and even laudable, to meditate upon the incarnation of the Lord upon any day in the year, it cannot be in the power of other men’s superstitions to render such a meditation improper for today. Regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for the gift of his dear Son.”

Amen! Oh, and Happy Christmas to you!

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