Christmas is a season of celebration. Domenic Marbaniang offers a few guidelines for a celebration that is godly.
estivals open up opportunities to open the box of history and thank God for His goodness revealed to us in a particular historical event. It offers us reasons to celebrate His intervention in our world and revives our hope that He still is in control no matter how dark times are.
The word “celebrate” comes from the Latin celeber or celebr meaning “frequented or honored”. Thus, to celebrate means to commemorate or honor an event or an accomplishment. People usually celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, feasts and festivals, or achievements.
Celebration originates in God. Zephaniah 3:17 talks about God rejoicing over His people with singing. Jesus, in His parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and the Lost Son, pictures heaven as filled with rejoicing every time a lost soul is won to the Lord.
Now, there may be disagreements among Christians regarding dates, events, and days of celebration; yet, celebration, in some form or the other, is present among Christians all over the world. However, one must be careful to not depart from the simplicity that is in Christ when it comes to New Testament Celebration.
The Simplicity of Christ’s Foundation
From the beginning, the Church has faced the threat of being led astray from the simplicity of Christ’s foundation. The threat came not only from heathenising contexts, (for instance, compromise between Christ and Belial in Corinth), but also chiefly from Judaisers who tried to understate the superiority of the New Covenant above the Old. The Church today faces both these threats and must guard against them.
First, there is the danger of compromise with the world. The Church faces this problem when it tries to celebrate in the way that the world does and thus lets the world define the meaning of celebration for it. This is as impossible as the impossibility of putting light and darkness together (2 Cor. 6:4-5). When the world dictates celebration, then worship turns into entertainment or idolatry, faith turns into a ritual, celebration becomes commercial, and the result is diminishing of the spirit. Under the false pretence of “contextualisation” and “incarnation”, the world invades the Church, the “Christianness” of the celebration is lost, and faith is enslaved by cultural identity. The Christian in context is a reality; the Christian consumed by context is a tragedy.