The asking of such a question may shock many of us. We think that Christmas and Easter are our key Christian festivals and so there can surely be no problem with them. But is it all so straight-forward? Can our acknowledgment of Christmas and Easter actually be harmful to our living for Christ?
Let us immediately go to the heart of the issue, and the heart of the issue is that the birth, death and resurrection of our LORD are at the very heart of our faith. Without them we have no faith. So you say isn’t it great that we have Christmas and Easter to mark these monumental events? The answer to that is probably “yes” and “no”.
What are they good for?
“Yes” it is because the situating of these events in our calendar necessitates us having to “trip over” the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. We are therefore forced to be aware of how major these matters are. Every occurrence of Christmas declares to us that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14b). Every Good Friday tells us how Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God (1 Peter 3:18). And as Easter Sunday comes we rejoice in the great fact that He was raised to life for our justification (Rom. 4:25b).
These “feasts” in our calendar also give us a window of opportunity to mention to people outside the church that the coming of Christ and His dying for our sins are major matters for them to consider in their lives. Let us be diligent in seeking these evangelistic opportunities.
Why are they no good?
On the other hand we can say “no” because we should be “tripping over” these events every day and in particular on every Lord’s Day. So the danger is that we think of Christmas as our “big time” to remember the incarnation and Easter is the “big time” for the cross and the empty tomb. We give lots of attention to these events at these times. And then when they are over they slip from our minds.
If this is the case it is an appalling situation. And if this is the case it is causing a big problem as regards to our living for Christ. If we can be so bold, we can carefully say that every day is Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. We live for a Saviour who came, lived, died, and rose again. If we spend even just one day minimising these issues then we have “lost the plot” as regards to living for Christ.
Overall then perhaps we can say for ourselves as believers that we can use Easter and Christmas for God’s glory, but certainly should not rely upon these feasts for the prompting and maintaining of our faith.
Why do we not need these feasts?
At this point the question might be raised about how God gave feasts in the Old Testament. In this realm we most particularly remember the Feasts of Jehovah in Leviticus 23. If the believers then had their “church calender” why should we not have one as well? In answer to that it must be stated that we now live in a different age. This is now the age of the Spirit when the Spirit indwells believers. The change which took place on the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 2) is revealed by our Lord when He said to His disciples, of the Holy Spirit, He lives with you and will be in you (John 14:17b). Jeremiah states the difference when he says:“This is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest”(Jeremiah 31:33-34).
Accordingly, we do not need the outward prompts from a structured calendar to remind us of God’s great workings. Rather we have things upon our hearts written by the Holy Spirit to continually remind us of God’s great workings. Therefore, we have no need of Christmas or Easter or any other festivals.
This point is also established by the silence of Scripture as regards to the celebrating of Christmas and Easter. We search the Scriptures in vain to find any statute which directs us to have Christmas and Easter or any other festival in the church calendar.
So let us use Christmas and Easter for the bringing of the reality of the Christian faith before those around us. They can also be used to focus us on the key issues of the faith. However, let us never rely upon them for the building of our faith. And as we unpack these things into our lives perhaps we can think once-and-for-all of ridding ourselves of restricting our singing of certain hymns to Christmas and Easter. Surely, the great truths expressed in Hark The Herald Angels Sing and Once In Royal David’s City etc are too wonderful to be restricted just to a fortnight each year!
(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter from June 2009 and originally published at Venabling on October 12 2015)