Gospel Order

Do You Really Need To Celebrate Christmas?


Do you really need to celebrate Christmas?

I know, it sounds silly to ask since most people today who profess to believe in Christ will answer in affirmative without a second thought. But seriously, if we look and search deeper about the origin behind this popular tradition or custom and compare it in the Word of God, we will be surprised to learn that Christmas and most holidays that the world observe and celebrate now were not sanctioned in the Bible. For example, according to the article entitled Christmas Day in the United States in timeanddate.com, it says that "the Bible does not give a precise date for the birth of Jesus". Please read the excerpt below.

Background. The original meaning of Christmas is a special church service, or mass, to celebrate the birth of Christ. The story of the Nativity, or the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, are particularly important in religious celebrations of Christmas. However, many traditions that are around today have their roots in pre-Christian winter festivals. These include the importance of candles and decorations made from evergreen bushes and tree, symbolizing everlasting light and life. In Roman times, a mid-winter festival was held. This was a relaxing time with a lot of parties and merry making. It was also common to give other people small gifts, such as dolls for children and candles for adults. This festival culminated with the celebration of the winter solstice, which fell on December 25 in the Roman calendar. In Scandinavia, a festival called Yule and lasting up to twelve days was held in late December and early January. In this time people burnt logs and held parties. These customs have influences how Christmas Day is celebrated today in the United States. The Bible does not give a precise date for the birth of Jesus. It is also unclear when December 25 became associated with the birth of Jesus, although it may have been around two hundred years after his birth. In the early centuries of Christianity, the anniversary of the birth of Jesus was not a cause for celebrations. The idea of turning this day into a celebration started in the early Middle Ages in Europe. During Reformation and up until the middle of the 1800s, Christmas was often not celebrated because partying and merry making was seen as unchristian. From about 1840, celebrating Christmas became more widespread. December 25 was declared a federal holiday in the United States in 1870. Since then Christmas Day has become a steadily more important holiday. – Article: Christmas Day in the United States

As we go further, I pray that the Lord will touch you as he touched me in viewing this subject in a new perspective (both historically and biblically) leaving behind the usual custom and tradition that we hold and hence, will be blessed and approved of God. Didn't God say to us that "My thoughts is not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways"? (Isaiah 55:8).


Christmas Tradition - Where it originated?

Now, let us quote from Catholic books and historical records where Christmas originated and what was the significance.

Several traditions and customs in the liturgy of the (Catholic) church originated in the church of Rome like the three masses on Christmas day, the procession for the veneration of the cross on Good Friday and many of the liturgical vestments (stole, alb, tunic, cope). The date of the twenty-fifth of December as the day of the celebration of the birth of Christ is also a Roman heritage. On that day pagan Rome celebrated the feast in honor of the never dying sun (natale solis invicti) which was transformed by the Christians into the feast in honor of the birth of Christ. – Liturgical Year, Vol 1, p. 13-14.


Christmas - Word Meaning

In English we have word “Christmas”, which derives from the old English “Crist maesse”, literally translated Christ’s Mass. In this word the specific aspect of this feast is not indicated but rather the form of its celebration, namely, the Mass, the Eucharist. – ibid, Christmas Season, p. 116.

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The MASS, The EUCHARIST - Meaning

Canons concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist (September 5, 1551)
Canon 1. If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist are contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ, but says that He is in it only as in a sign, or figure or force, let him be anathema.
Canon 2. If anyone says that in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denies that wonderful and singular change of the whole substance of the bread into the body and the whole substance of the wine into the blood, the appearances only of bread and wine remaining, which change the Catholic Church most aptly calls transubstantiation, let him be anathema.
Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass (September 17, 1562)
Canon 1. If anyone says that in the mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God; or that to be offered is nothing else than that Christ is given to us to eat, let him be anathema. -- Council Of Trent

The Mass a True Sacrifice. Since the first century of her existence, the Church has considered the Mass a sacrifice. The earliest manual of the liturgy (before 90 A.D.) has this directive for the attendance of Sunday Mass.
"On the Lord's own day, assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks. But first confess your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure. However, no one quarreling with his brother may join your meeting until they are reconciled; your sacrifice must not be defiled (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, 14)."
Why is the Mass a true sacrifice? Because in the Mass the same Jesus Christ who offered Himself on Calvary now offers Himself on the altar. The Priest is the same, the Victim is the same, and the end or purpose is the same.
The Priest is the same Jesus Christ whose sacred person the ordained priest represents and in whose Name he offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
The Victim is the same, namely the Savior in His human nature, with His true Body and Blood, and His human free will. Only the manner of offering is different. On the Cross, the sacrifice was bloody; in the Mass it is unbloody because Christ is now in His glorified state. But the heart of sacrifice is the voluntary, total offering of oneself to God. Christ makes this voluntary offering in every Mass, signified by the separate consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Redeemer.
The end or purpose is the same, namely to give glory to God, to thank Him, to obtain His mercy, and to ask Him for our needs. But, as we have seen, whereas on Calvary Christ merited our salvation, it is mainly through the Mass that He now dispenses the riches of His saving grace. -- Pocket Catholic Catechism, John A. Hardon, S.J., An Image Book, Published by Doubleday Copyright © 1989 by John A. Hardon, All Rights Reserved

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The Scriptural ordinance of the Lord’s Supper had been supplanted by the idolatrous sacrifice of the mass. Papal priests pretended, by their senseless mummery, to convert the simple bread and wine into the actual “body and blood of Christ.”—Cardinal Wiseman, The Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Eucharist, Proved From Scripture, lecture 8, sec. 3, par. 26. With blasphemous presumption, they openly claimed the power of creating God, the Creator of all things. Christians were required, on pain of death, to avow their faith in this horrible, Heaven-insulting heresy. Multitudes who refused were given to the flames. - The Great Controversy, p. 59


JESUS OFFERED ONE SACRIFICE FOR SINS FOR EVER

Heb 10:11-14 "And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man (Jesus Christ), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.


Christmas and Easter - STRICTLY RELATED

The document of the Roman Calendar clearly affirms and underlines the priority of the celebration of the Easter mystery by saying that the Christmas season is “second only to the annual celebration of the Easter mystery” (No. 32). Historical and theological reasons are the basis for such a statement. Christmas and its season developed only in the 4th century while Easter and its season was much earlier. … The Nativity therefore must be seen as strictly related to Easter. From the point of view of popular appreciation Christmas has still priority over Easter and it will need much time, patience and effort to change this. – Liturgical Year, Vol 1, p. 115.

The widely accepted theory is from the history of religion which considers the pagan feast “Natale solis invicti” (Birthday of the invincible sun) as the basis of the Christian Christmas feast. That pagan feast was introduced by the Roman emperor Aurelian in 274 to be observed on December 25, the day of the winter solstice. The festival wanted to celebrate the power of the sun-God that apparently seems to fade away in winter time (cold weather, short days) but gains again strength; that is why it is called “the invincible sun”, the sun that cannot be overcome. The Christians accepted this pagan feast but gave it a Christian content: it became the birthday of their true and invincible Sun Jesus Christ. It seems that such Christianization process was not easy because even hundred years later Pope Leo the Great (440-461), In his Christmas sermons observed that there are still Christians who do not observe this day as holy because of Christ but because of the sun. From Rome at the feast of the Nativity of the Lord spread rapidly to other places. At the end of the fourth century we have testimonies from Africa, Spain, the Church of Milan and the churches of the East. In the fifth century followed the churches of Gaul (France) and Egypt and in the in the sixth century Jerusalem and Palestine. – ibid., p. 118.

Our Sunday Visitor (February 5, 1950): Practically everything Protestants regard as essential or important they have received from the Catholic Church... The Protestant mind does not seem to realize that in accepting the Bible and observing the Sunday, in keeping Christmas and Easter, they are accepting the authority of the spokesman for the church, the Pope. New


It is admitted by the most learned and candid writers of all parties that the day of our Lord’s birth cannot be determined, and that within the Christian church no such festival as Christmas was ever heard of till the third century, and that not till the fourth century was far advanced did it gain much observance. How, then, did the Romish Church fix on December the 25th as Christmas Day? Why, thus: Long before the fourth century, and long before the Christian era itself, a festival was celebrated among the heathen at that precise time of the year, in honor of the birth of the son of the Babylonian queen of heaven; and it may fairly be presumed that, in order to conciliate the heathen, and to swell the number of the nominal adherents of Christianity, the same festival was adopted by the Roman Church, giving it only the name of Christ.
This tendency on the part of Christians to meet paganism halfway was very early developed; and we find Tertullian, even in his day, about the year 230, bitterly lamenting the inconsistency of the disciples of Christ in this respect, and contrasting it with the strict fidelity of the pagans to their own superstition.... Upright men strove to stem the tide, but in spite of all their efforts, the apostasy went on, till the church, with the exception of a small remnant, was submerged under pagan superstition.
That Christmas was originally a pagan festival, is beyond all doubt. The time of the year, and the ceremonies with which it is still celebrated, prove its origin. In Egypt, the son of Isis, the Egyptian title for the queen of heaven, was born at this very time, “about the time of the winter solstice.” The very name by which Christmas is popularly known among ourselves-Yule day-proves at once its pagan and Babylonian origin. “Yule” is the Chaldee name for an “infant” or “little child;” and as the 25th of December was called by our pagan Anglo-Saxon ancestors, “Yule day,” or the “Child’s day,” and the night that preceded it, “Mother night,” long before they came in contact with Christianity, that sufficiently proves its real character. Far and wide, in the realms of paganism, was this birthday observed.
This festival has been commonly believed to have had only an astronomical character, referring simply to the completion of the sun’s yearly course and the commencement of a new cycle. But there is indubitable evidence that the festival in question had a much higher reference than this-that it commemorated not merely the figurative birthday of the sun in the renewal of its course, but the birthday of the grand Deliverer.
Among the Sabeans of Arabia, who regarded the moon, and not the sun, as the visible symbol of the favorite object of their idolatry, the same period was observed as the birth festival. Thus we read in Stanley’s “Sabean Philosophy:” “On the 24th of the tenth month,” that is December, according to our reckoning, “the Arabians celebrated the birthday of the Lord-that is, the moon.” The Lord Moon was the great object of Arabian worship, and that Lord Moon, according to them, was born on the 24th of December, which clearly shows that the birth which they celebrated had no necessary connection with the course of the sun.
It is worthy of special note, too, that if Christmas day among the ancient Saxons of this island was observed to celebrate the birth of any lord of the host of heaven, the case must have been precisely the same here as it was in Arabia. The Saxons, as is well known, regarded the sun as a female divinity, and the moon as a male. It must have been the birthday of the Lord Moon, therefore, and not of the sun, that was celebrated by them on the 25th of December, even as the birthday of the same Lord Moon was observed by the Arabians on the 24th of December.— “The Two Babylons,” Rev. Alexander Hislop, pp. 92-94, 7th edition. London: S. W. Partridge & Co.


Christmas - Not Observed in Early Church

It is now generally granted that the day of the nativity was not observed as a feast in any part of the church, east or west, till some time in the fourth century. If any day had been earlier fixed upon as the Lord’s birthday, it was not commemorated by any religious rites, nor is it mentioned by any writers. If any day had been earlier fixed upon as the Lord’s birthday, it was not commemorated by any religious rites, nor is it mentioned by any writers. The observance of the 25th December is ascribed to Julius, Bishop of Rome, A.D. 337-352. — “The Life of Our Lord upon the Earth,” Samuel J. Andrews, p. 17. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891.

Early celebration: Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii inMigne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday; Arnobius(VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the "birthdays" of the gods. – Article: Christmas, Catholic Encyclopedia


A Pagan Celebration Christianized. It is not until the fourth century that a calendar mentions the celebration of the Lord’s nativity. This was the Christianization of the pagan feast sol invictus—“the invincible sun”—introduced in 274 by the emperor Aurelius (270-275) and celebrated in Rome on December 25. The sun wanes continually from the end of June until the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. As if to vanquish darkness, however, the sun wins out over the long, dark days by shining a little longer each day until its brightest and most glorious moment at the summer solstice. The substitution of one feast for another was easy for those who, having once participated in the pagan feast, became Christians. The prophet Malachi had said that one day “the Sun of justice” (Mal 3:20) would arise, and Jesus called himself “the Light of the world” (John 8:12). The true Sun, the “vanquisher of darkness,” is the one who has triumphed over sin and death. After the Peace of Constantine (313), the feast of Nativity of the Lord also supplanted altogether the pagan celebration of the Sun. From the beginning, it also had a definite paschal dimension that is somewhat overlooked today. About the same time, as a Christianization of the celebration of the winter solstice observed in Egypt and Arabia on January 6, the feast of Epiphany came into being… The East gradually adopted the feast of Christmas somewhere between the end of the fourth century and the first half of the fifth. -- Days of the Lord, The Liturgical Year, vol. 1, page 191

CHRISTIANIZE - meaning:
Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Chris·tian·ize (krĭs′chə-nīz′)
tr.v. Chris·tian·ized, chris·tian·iz·ing, Chris·tian·iz·es
1. To take over or adapt in the name of Christianity: pagan monuments Christianized by early missionaries.
2. To convert to Christianity.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Christianize

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In the course of the fourth century two movements or developments spread over the face of Christendom, with a rapidity characteristic of the Church; the one ascetic, the other ritual or ceremonia. We are told in various ways by Eusebius, that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own. It is not necessary to go into a subject which the diligence of Protestant writers has made familiar to most of us. The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church. – An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, By John Henry Newman, 359-360 (1846)


"THUS SAITH THE LORD" - If the Lord be God, Follow Him

Jeremiah 10:1-6 "Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the ways 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. Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might."

Deuteronomy 12:29-32 "When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."

1 Kings 18:21 "And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him..."


SPIRIT OF PROPHECY quotes for SDA

It is supposed that Christ was born on the 25th day of December, and for that reason it is celebrated as His birthday. But it is impossible for us to know upon what day He was born. You can know no more about that than the children of Israel could know where Moses was buried. The reason God has not revealed that fact is because you would have worshiped that day, as they would have worshiped the grave of Moses had they found it, and this is just what they have done with the day they supposed was the one on which Christ was born. {21MR 223.2}

Everybody is trying to find out how they can bring suitable gifts to one another. In the family the study is to know what next they can give. They have given something every year. Now what shall I give this year to the children, or to father and mother? But where are the Saviour’s poor? They are right before your doors. And He will say unto them on His left hand, “I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in: naked, and ye clothed Me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited Me not. Then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee? Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.” Matthew 25:42-45.

Now, why is this so? It is because there is so much selfishness. Jesus Christ identified Himself with His suffering poor, and when we do the works of benevolence we are doing it unto Christ. I want to know how many of us are doing this kind of work. How many will keep Christmas aright? The wealthy bring gifts to their friends but they are rich still. Then how can this be a sacrifice to them? Then what shall we do to please God? I will tell you. If you would keep this day as you should, you would call upon the needy poor, and if they are in want of anything, supply that want.

And when this is done, come and render an offering unto the Lord. It says to your own soul, Christ for my sake became poor that through His poverty I might be made rich. Jesus, by the offering of Himself, has brought this infinite Gift within our reach. You may bring a gift to Jesus that through your offerings others may go out in the vineyard and work to bring to God those for whom Jesus died.

This responsibility rests upon each of us, that we regard Christ as first and last and best in everything. The best offering we can make to God after we give ourselves is our property. Jesus gave Himself without reserve for us. I am so grateful that we have such a precious example in the Bible. When Jesus was born, and Joseph and Mary came to the temple to do after the usual custom, they were poor and they could not bring a great offering to God. They brought two turtledoves, according to the law. The Lord had provided by law for the poor that they might bring an offering of two turtledoves, and they brought their simple offering for the child Jesus, who was the Son of the living God.

When we bring an offering to God, what does He require? Is it a great gift? I will tell you what He requires; it is a gift according to what a man has, be it ever so simple. God will accept it according to that which you have. We can open our hearts to God whether we be rich or poor.

I am so thankful that when Mary came she came with turtledoves. I am so thankful that such an offering to God should be accepted in return for His great gift to us. Just a little offering—two turtledoves! How simple the offering! Yet it is precious in the sight of God.

But now Satan has managed to turn our offerings from God to one another, and thus has exalted self in His stead. He has interposed self in between the creature and the Creator, in order to shut out the large offerings as well as the little rivulets of personal offerings from flowing into the treasury of the Lord to carry forward His work of mercy and love to the world. He has turned in into a channel of selfishness, to purchase toys and trifles that will do your children no good, and to make larger gifts to one another. This is the work of Satan, that the great work of salvation might be hindered and God’s name might not receive the glory due to Him. We do not want the cause of God to go crippling along for want of means that are needed upon the right hand and upon the left. We want the little rivulets to be turned into the treasury. Let every one bring in an offering to God. Don’t you think that this is the way to observe Christmas? Don’t you think it is the best way, rather than that means should go into the treasuries of the ungodly?

We do not have the gratitude we ought to have for the gift of God’s Son. When Joseph and Mary were at the temple, while the smoke was ascending from off the altar, their prayers were going up with thanksgiving to God that He had provided them with an offering to bring to Him. But how is it with us when the children come to their birthdays? Do we make an offering to God for His goodness and care over the child for another year? Is this the way we do? Or do we go out and buy a present for the child and by so doing cultivate in the child a spirit of selfishness?

How much better it would be to teach the children, upon their birthday, that they should go to God with an offering upon that day. Teach them that they ought to lay up something to bring to God on their birthday, as a thank offering for His mercies over them through the year, and so keep God in their memory.

Anciently the parents were required to teach the children the statutes and commandments of God, when they should rise up and when they should sit down and when they should walk by the way. You may teach them what God has done for them, how God preserved them from death while other children were falling with disease, and that God will expect to be remembered by them and will accept an offering from their hands. This is the way we should instruct our children and set the example ourselves.

Satan is constantly at work to divert our minds from God, to bring us where we will glorify and honor self. Brethren and sisters, we want to have a change in this matter. It is serious business, this robbing God. There must be a change in this order of things. One of the greatest reasons for this state of things is this pride of dress, in the styles and fashions of the world. You want the first, the best, and last of everything to be given to Jesus Christ, and forsake this foolish spirit of fashion. This is the great day of humiliation before God. Your eternal welfare depends upon your course of action. You should weave this through the minds of your children, and impress them with the things of God. You have let your work occupy your whole attention.

You have been more concerned with your work and drive in your household affairs than with teaching your children, beautifying and adorning their hearts, and giving them a beautiful character.

Now there is a new year coming, and as the light is streaming from the open door, every one of us should thirst for more and more of its illuminating power because the earth is growing darker and darker every day. Many have not experienced the fullness of this light upon their heart. Fathers and mothers, it is your duty before your families to let the love of God into your hearts, that they may see that you are bound up with their eternal interests, that when they do anything that grieves you it grieves Jesus. Unless you are persevering in your efforts, unless you are working all the time, Satan will overcome you at last, for he never ceases his vigilance.

We are to war against principalities. It is not a war against flesh and blood, but against wicked powers in high places. How can you do this? By every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Just as sure as you look into that mirror that [remainder missing].— Manuscript 8, 1880.

Shall we have a Christmas tree? Will it not be like the world? We answer, You can make it like the world if you have a disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible. There is no particular sin in selecting a fragrant evergreen and placing it in our churches, but the sin lies in the motive which prompts to action and the use which is made of the gifts placed upon the tree.
The tree may be as tall and its branches as wide as shall best suit the occasion; but let its boughs be laden with the golden and silver fruit of your beneficence, and present this to Him as your Christmas gift. Let your donations be sanctified by prayer." The Review and Herald, December 11, 1879. {AH 482.2}

Let your Christmas tree be dedicated to God, and let its boughs be laden with offerings for Christ. Do not give as though it were a task, doling out your donations with a niggardly hand. Good works are no drudgery. In giving to us his Son, God has poured out to us all Heaven in one gift. Let us with an overflowing heart, with gratitude and joy because of Christ’s matchless love, bring him our offerings. Teach your children by your own example the blessedness of doing for Christ. Train them to go on errands of love for him, and in all their gifts to remember the gracious Giver. - {ST December 8, 1887, par. 16}

Our children have been educated to expect gifts from parents and friends upon Christmas. Christmas is celebrated to commemorate Christ’s birth. If we celebrate it only in seeking to give pleasure to our children and one another, our offerings are diverted from the true object. We should bring our thank offerings to the Lord, laying our gifts at the feet of Him who has opened the treasures of heaven to us.

The enemy plans that human minds and hearts shall be diverted from God and His cause, to praise and honor one another. God has been left out of the question, and positively dishonored. Christmas has been made a day of feasting, of gluttony, of selfish indulgence.

Now let every family consider this matter in all its bearings. Let the parents place it in all its wonderful significance before their children and friends, and say: “This year we will not expend money in presents upon ourselves, but we will honor and glorify God. We will testify of our gratitude to Him who gave His Son to die as our sacrifice, that we might have the gift of eternal life.” Let us show that we appreciate this gift, and respond as far as it is in our power with thank offerings. Let us celebrate Christmas by remembering God instead of remembering our friends and relatives with gifts which they do not need. - {EGWSROCHG 6.4}

The holiday season is at hand, and old and young are studying what they can bestow upon their friends as a token of remembrance. The world at large are devising gifts for earthly friends; shall we not remember our heavenly Benefactor? Will he not be pleased if we show that we have not forgotten him? While multitudes celebrate Christmas, there are few who show honor to Christ. The day is devoted to selfish indulgence, and the Redeemer’s great love and sacrifice awaken no response. Let it not be so with us. Let the precious tokens of his love call forth an expression of gratitude in free-will offerings for his cause.

God is not honored by the practice of bestowing costly presents upon a few favorites because it is the custom. These favorites are seldom the Lord’s poor. Many are really perplexed to decide what gifts they can select that will give pleasure to those who are abundantly supplied with the good things of this life. Thousands of dollars are needlessly spent every year on Christmas gifts. The means is lost to the cause of God. Not only so, but it gratifies vanity, encourages pride, and often occasions dissatisfaction and complaints because the gifts are not what was desired, or are not of the value expected. As Christians, we cannot honor a custom which is not approved of Heaven. All that we possess belongs to God, and he has made us his stewards. Let us not expend our means for idols to please the fancy and engage the affections of our friends, to the neglect of our best Friend,-the one to whom we owe everything. When tempted to purchase expensive ornaments or other needless articles, ask yourselves the questions “Can I do this to the glory of God?” Let not time and means be spent in preparing presents that will benefit neither giver nor receiver. Remember that God will call you to account for the manner in which you employ his gifts.

If all the means usually expended by our people at this holiday season were brought as an offering of gratitude to God, to be used in advancing his cause, what an amount would flow into the treasury. Who are willing this year to depart from the custom? Shall we not, old and young, forego the pleasure of making presents to one another, and let the money be invested in the Lord’s work? Shall there not be in heaven a precious record of self-denial for Christ’s sake? Our children have learned to regard Christmas as a day of rejoicing, and we should find it a difficult matter to pass over this holiday without some attention. It may be made to serve a good purpose. The youth should not be left to find their own amusement in vanity and pleasure-seeking. If parents will make the necessary effort, the minds of the children may be directed to God, to his cause, and to the salvation of souls. Their desire to make gifts may be turned into channels of good to their fellow-men, to sustaining the work which Christ came to do.

On Christmas let the members of every church assemble, with offerings from willing hands and hearts,—the fruits of love and gratitude to God. Let all exert their influence and ability to make these gatherings attractive and interesting. See how much means you can gather to advance the work of the Lord. Let those who have heretofore planned for self, begin now to plan for the cause of God. On similar occasions in the past, you have taxed your inventive powers to prepare something that would surprise and gratify your friends. Be as earnest and persevering in rendering to God that which is his due. Let the children learn the blessedness of giving, by bringing their little gifts to add to the offerings of their parents.

I present before you the European missions as the object of your liberality. These missions are in great need of funds. The work must go forward. Every penny that can be spared should be invested in the cause. Let us see if this Christmas cannot show thousands, yes, tens of thousands, of dollars flowing into the treasury. “God loveth a cheerful giver;” and if we with grateful hearts bring our gifts and offerings to him, “not grudgingly or of necessity,” his blessing will attend us, as he has promised: “I will open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing.” He will accept not only the gift, but the giver. And though it may have cost self-denial and sacrifice on our part, the approval of conscience and the blessing of Heaven will make this holiday season one of the happiest we have ever experienced. We may have such a spirit of love and joy in our hearts and homes as will make angels glad. - {RH December 15, 1885, Art. B, par. 7}

December 2015

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