Like many small Messianic congregations, the congregation I attend rents space from a larger Protestant church.
A few weeks ago, a member of the church who is organizing the church’s Christmas service contacted me and asked if we Messianics would be willing to partake in the Christmas service.
How would you respond?
Her request was that we play some Hebrew songs, sound the shofar, and maybe do some dancing if that was our thing. Show the Jewish side of Christmas, she said.
I had mixed feelings about this.
Primarily, we, and indeed most Messianics, do not celebrate Christmas. It’s not biblical, its connections to Messiah’s birth are dubious, and the paraphernalia associated with the holiday have less to do with Christ and more to do with old world religious rites.
It’s my conviction that the people of God ought not celebrate this holiday, and our taking part in the service would send the wrong message.
On the other hand, I gotta to step back and look at this from a bigger perspective: an outsider would totally laugh at us little groups squabbling with each other over what days we celebrate, what foods we eat, and all the divisions to the Nth degree that we inflict upon ourselves. In that regard, the evil one has us right where he wants us, I think.
I mean, aren’t there bigger things to worry about? How about personally living a righteous life in private and public? How about peace and unity among Messiah’s disciples? While we’re squabbling about holidays, couldn’t we be busy, oh, I don’t know, feeding the poor, helping widows and orphans? And yet we spend 95% of our time arguing about times and seasons and theologies.
That’s not really the religious life I’m looking to live.
On top of that, the woman who approached us to take part in the Christmas service was humble, sincere, and showed nothing but kindness to us. The last thing I want to do is go in there shouting all Zany Zealot commando-style, “Christmas is pagan! Christmas is pagan!”
So, I, personally, was completely torn about this issue.
The other leaders in our congregation spent a few weeks mulling this over in discussion and prayer. We ended up declining the invitation. Today I sent out the following message to the woman who is organizing the Christmas service, names anonymized:
Our congregation has given much thought and prayer to your invitation to take part in the Christmas service.
The reason we were hesitant to accept is, for Biblical reasons, Messianics do not celebrate Christmas. By all means we honor Messiah's birth, which likely took place during the biblical Feast of Tabernacles. But because December 25th was chosen to overwrite previous pagan winter solstice celebrations, Messianics instead celebrate his birth during Tabernacles, and we do so without the non-Biblical paraphernalia (trees, holly, wreaths, etc.) associated with Christmas.
It's for these reasons we must respectfully decline your invitation.
Thanks for contacting us, Rachel. All of us -- myself, Bryan, Jesse -- recognized sincerity and humility in you. We honestly thank you for the kindness you've shown us.
Be blessed in Messiah Yeshua.
I wanted to be careful in my criticism. I wanted to avoid fixating solely on the negative. I also wanted to make it clear we are not denying the miraculous birth of Messiah, which the gospels record being met with angel-singing and rejoicing. At the same time, I wanted to stand for my convictions. I hope my letter portrayed those things.
What would you do, fine Messianic blog reader, if a church asked you to participate in their Christmas service?