Advent: Why celebrate?

Some Christians insist that Christmas has pagan origins and that we should not celebrate it.
So, why do we?

The first Advent Sunday this year falls on today – December 3, 2018. “Advent” comes from the Latin “Adventus Domini” which means “arrival of the Lord.” 

I have a personal story to share with you as we begin this season of Advent.

Several years ago, I got a phone call from an earnest Christian family; both husband and wife wanted to know more about our church and the Christianity we practise. They had heard that I was an ex-Catholic turned Reformed Protestant pastor – and they wanted to know more; they themselves were disenchanted former Catholics.

The initial call was followed by a series of telephone “interviews” and a face to face meeting. All this led to them and their two children coming to worship and fellowship with us.

One and a half years into their fellowship with us, they confronted me with a strong objection: I should not allow Christmas to be celebrated in our church. (“Strong” is a bit of an understatement here, they were in fact very adamant about it.)

They proffered the “standard” arguments – the tree, Santa Claus, the 25th, and the “fact” that Christmas has pagan origins, etc. – to support their objection.

Well, after many unfruitful hours of pastoral discussions, it was clear that they were not about to change their minds. So, they left, and we continue to prepare for Advent and to celebrate Christmas.

So, why we do celebrate Christmas? 

First, let me say that I do empathize with some of their objections, especially some “celebrations” carried on by unsaved people. But that itself should not prevent us from celebrating God’s great gift intended for our salvation.

True, neither Jesus nor the apostles commanded that we celebrate the birth of Christ. We are given only two ordinances by which to remember Him: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. However, Jesus also never told us not to celebrate His birth.

For me personally, I celebrate – usually very quietly – because I am thankful to God for His faithfulness in fulfilling all His great promises regarding the “arrival of the Lord”. And I praise Him for the “mystery of godliness”

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. – 1 Tim 3:16

We celebrate because He was manifested, and we want gratefully to proclaim Him among the nations.

Pastor Robert Chew