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Not quite Christmas.

Posted by Gary Pauley on

Seems whenever a holiday rolls around with a Christian theme (Easter, Christmas) some conversation will take place about the historical ties of that holiday to some pagan celebration. I personally don’t see what difference all of that makes to us today. Much of the historical trivia is uncertain and disputed. If it is that difficult to get to the historical truth, what difference does it make to people today who are completely unaware of it all? My Christian faith is really unaffected by the observance or non-observance of these holidays. They are cultural artifacts that have nothing to do with core Christianity. 

So in one of these conversations you might see me looking generally disinterested or change the subject politely. I will not argue for one view of Christmas origins over another—because I don’t care. 

On the other hand, when I hear discussions about the historicity or relevance of the nativity event described in Matthew and Luke’s gospels, you will see me engage. 

If Christmas at one time, in some places and for some people had spiritual significance, that is great. Over time it has been hijacked for commercial purposes. That is unfortunate, but “rescuing it” is not within the scope of Christian mission as I see it. A proper handling of the historical event of the birth of Christ is a different matter. The advent of Christ in time and human history fits within the purposes of God. Those purposes are made clear in the accounts: “…to save his people from their sins.” Contemporary hijacking of the advent of Christ for current political, social, or ideological purposes need to be challenged. Even if Christ’s birth “means different things to different people,” it does not follow that those impressions are valid understandings of what the event means in Scripture. 

On Sunday, December 19th I will survey some of the ways the nativity story has become an opportunity for readers to promote their own personal agenda—and in the process to miss God’s agenda. 


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