Know Your Bible

VOL. 10                                                                                                                                                                                December 11, 2011                                                                                                                                                                                NO. 46


 Let's Keep The Mass In Christmas?

I may seem to be a fuddy-dud or a scrooge in saying this, but Christmas is a national holiday that started out under the misguided influences of people who blindly accepted it as a proper time to celebrate the birth of Christ. Christmas, as a concept, has evolved and has meant different things to different people.

God's people have always tried to tell the truth that this is not the time Jesus was born, and that we should not go along with the lies that others are telling and singing when they say such things as "Christ was born on Christmas day". We have tried to honor the Lord's birth at all times of the year, but frankly too much is made of Jesus' birth in an incorrect time of year, and too little is made of His death which provides the salvation of mankind through consistent and persistent faith in Him. The Lord told us to do something to memorialize His death (1 Cor. 11:17f) and even tells us that is it to be done every first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2), yet the clear instructions are ignored while inconsistently insisting on a yearly human tradition be observed (and that on the wrong day). God did not tell us a day to observe a birthday party for Jesus, yet people insist on picking out a poorly chosen date, and acting like God is pleased with what they are doing to erroneously celebrate Jesus' birth. All the fuss about "keeping Christ in Christmas" is a lot about nothing. Christmas is not a divinely given command. It is a misguided human tradition. It makes no sense for Christians to tell people to "keep Christ in Christmas" when we would not equally demand that people "keep the Mass in Christmas".

The religious origins of the term for Christmas goes back to Roman Catholicism. The Roman Catholics adapted a Mass to coincide with an earlier pagan festival. Thus, the term "Christ-Mass". Protestants did not want to keep the mass in Christmas (a Catholic usage), so they retained the term "Christmas" while removing the mass as a practice. They wanted to keep the concept of celebrating Jesus' birth, but they dropped the Catholic concept of MASS. 

Through the years, the Catholics have wanted to keep the mass in Christmas. Protestants did not mind the term "Christ-mas" as long as one did not actually observe the "Mass" that Catholics had associated with the day. Thus, Christmas evolved to mean different things to Catholics and to Protestants. 

The term has evolved further. As different people found the holiday a fun time of family and color and personal traditions, it has been the tradition of many families who did not associate the time of year called "Christmas" to anything religious, to use the time to celebrate the blessings of family and children. Trees, and lights, and decorations, and gifts have just been a nice, enjoyable time of year for the family. Some associate it to the birth of Christ (without good Biblical reason to do so) and others, realizing it has no Biblical support, do not associate it to the birth of Christ. Some of these are Christians who see no biblical basis for supporting the error that Jesus was born in December, particularly, December 25. Others do not mind the term "Christmas", because it has come to mean nothing religious anymore. Just as the terms "Monday" and "Thursday" have lost their religious association to the pagan gods, Christmas is not viewed by many as an inherently religious term. It has religious origins, just as "Monday" and "Thursday" have religious origins, but the terms have lost religious associations, and the use of the terms themselves do not prove anything about what is believed about those terms.

Some Protestants are speaking out about how upset they are about the reference to "Christ" in Christmas, being dropped, but they do not want to confess that a MASS is built into the term, too. They simply ignore it, and then adjust to it, and then adopt it with a different connotation to what they choose to think about the day of Dec. 25. If they can keep the term and make it mean to them what they prefer it to mean, then why cannot others adopt the term and say it means fun and family? The truth is, this is exactly what has happened. Christ Himself was never associated with Dec. 25 as a holy day. If we should join the cry to keep Christ in Christmas religiously, then consistency demands that we also make an equal plea to get the MASS back in Christmas religiously.

While I do not like the ever increasing efforts to remove references to God, Jesus, or Christ from public displays, and have every American right to confess and profess the name of Jesus where I please, and while I defend the American right to profess God in any way an American feels compelled to profess Him, I am not at all convinced that GOD was ever honored by men adapting His name to a pagan holy day. I'm certain that when people say "Lord, haven't we done this in your name" (Matt. 7:21f), that the Lord will say it was all "lawlessness" and iniquity, done without His authority at all. A lot of what men say they are doing in His name, is not done by His authorization at all. The American way and the Bible way are often poles apart. Traditional religion and the Bible are often very different. 

I don't have an American gripe about people wanting to put Christ in Christmas. I have a biblical gripe that people don't seem to want Christ much at all in many other days of the year, but they pretend that it is important to God that we tell people Jesus was born on Dec.25. That is just plain wrong. Let's put Jesus in our hearts every day of the year. And if we are going to say anything about a day that matters to God, let's be sure to mention every first day of the WEEK (Acts 2. 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1,2). Do you want to put the MASS back in Christmas? Christ never was in Christmas. Men invented it according to their own will. Christ never was in the Mass. Men invented that too. Christ belongs in every heart every day of every year. Let us put Christ where He belongs and deserves to be, right there in your heart and mine. Only then will He be honored.

---Terry W. Benton

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How Do They Do It?

Every congregation has them. You know who they are.  They’re the ones who simply never miss an assembly. But more than this, they’re the ones who are always ‘johnny-on-the-spot’ when something needs done or someone needs help. These folks are the ‘backbone’ of the local church, and they are the ones primarily responsible for accomplishing the essential work of the congregation.

You’ve seen them when you know they’re feeling just awful; when their jobs and various responsibilities have them completely ‘covered up’; when they could easily be overwhelmed by personal grief or pain; when circumstances have them totally ‘swamped’; but they still manage to make time for the Lord. They push through their illness, they ‘keep on keeping on’ when many others would have given in and given up. And you wonder: How do they do it?

While the kind of individuals we’re describing here each have their own unique characteristics, it is clear that they all share this in common: their love and devotion for the Lord supersedes everything else in their lives. He is more important to them than their jobs, their families, or their hobbies. For them, minor aches and pains pale in comparison to the joy of doing His will. He is quite simply THE most important thing in their lives. And, they show it by how they live and what they do. For them it’s not mere ‘lip service’. It’s the real thing – heartfelt, devoted service to their Lord and Master.

One sister in her nineties who impressed everyone in the congregation with her faithfulness explained in these plain terms:  “If I can get up, get dressed, and get to the doctor – and I’ve been doing a lot of that these days – then I can also get up, get dressed, and get to church services.” Now, THAT’S what we’re talking about. THAT’S how it gets done!

We’re thankful for all our brothers and sisters who set such wonderful examples for the rest of us.  May their tribe increase!

---Greg Gwin

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Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

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