Eight Points in Preparing for Christmas
By CCD contributor: Hu Zhiwei , December 23, 2017 04:12 AM
Recently churches across China are busy preparing for Christmas celebrations. Christmas has been a traditional Christian festival for centuries in China. Not only churches, but also schools, commercial streets, and industries are eager to make preparations for Christmas activities.
Can Christmas be observed according to biblical principles in the era dominated by trends? Is church culture occupied by worldly culture?
December 25 represented the birth of Mithra, the sun-god for ancient Persians, and marked the Winter Solstice in the Roman calendar. The pagans who worshiped the Syrian sun-god Apollo regarded the day as the hope of the spring and the beginning of renewal. For this reason, the Roman church eventually chose this day as Christmas, a precious gift to Jesus.
However, Christmas is constantly consumed by secular culture. The deepest impressions of most young students and children for Christmas are things like Santa Claus, Christmas presents, sledges, and deer...But for the church, what should be paid attention to in preparations for Christmas?
The following Bible passages may give some hints.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:8-20)
Remember the message that came from the heaven
Verse 9 mentions a few words:"an angel of the Lord", "the glory of the Lord", and the "fear" of shepherds. The angel of the Lord came from Heaven. The glory of the Lord reflects God's majesty, holiness, authority, and sovereignty.
The shepherds were terrified when the glory of the Lord shone around them. Their terror was fear. Christmas is a message from Heaven, not just a holiday of the earth. So prepare a heart of fear for the day.
Remember the good news of great joy for all the people
Lots of performances like sketches, plays, and dances are shown on Christmas and audiences burst into laughter at funny shows.Except enjoying ourselves, don't forget that the annual festival brings great joy for all the people. The angel told shepherds not to "be afraid."
There should be no fear but joy. Ponder over how to present great joy during the celebrations.
Remember it's the savior, not Santa Claus
At the mention of Christmas, many people's first impression is Santa Claus.
The legend of Santa Claus was a western folktale that Saint Nicholas, a kind-hearted and generous man born to a Christian family, donated all of his inheritance to the poor after his parents' death, joined a church, and dedicated all his life to social service. He became a priest and in the end, a bishop.After his death, he was called a saint, an old man wearing a red hat with gray beard.
It is often considered that Santa Claus is the center of Christmas, and even the image of Santa Claus appears in front of some churches.
However, Christmas focus is the savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Santa Claus and the savior are totally different: the good man gave people presents but was unable to save their lives, while the savior who descended from heaven to earth gave the world salvation and eternal life.
Remember the sign of the savior
The angel also told shepherds a sign:"a baby lying in a manger". So some churches have mangers at Christmas.
His image as a baby lying in a manger subverted Jews, shepherds, and us. His incarnation showed humility and self-sacrifice.
The church needs to reflect on one thing: are you willing to be the manger that welcomes his birth?
Remember to worship God with angels
Luke 2:13-14 claims that a great company of the heavenly host gave praise to God with the angels. Although it was unknown how their faces looked, I believe that they were worshiping God.
Christmas is a holy day to worship and praise God with angels. Worship Him with angels in every service and performance.Worship never stops.
Remember it's a day to inspect and witness
Hearing the good news, the shepherds took action: searching for Jesus, seeing him and spreading what they were told.
The church needs the reflection: Have you found Jesus and seen him? Have you let other people hear Jesus?
Remember the message worthy to ponder
Verse 19 says that Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Mary constantly thought about everything about the baby.
Do you have a heart like Mary that wondered at Jesus Christ's birth?
You may be deceived by the date and think that Jesus was born on December 25. Keep your mind focused on his birth for you every day!
Remember it's a day for the glory of the Lord
Verse 20 tells that the shepherds glorified and praised God. Christmas is for the glory of God. The church should bear in mind that every preparation is to glorify God rather than exalt men.
Avoid excessive praise for people owing to their great shows and remember that it's a day for the glory of the Lord. Just praise God.
- Translated by Karen Luo
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