December 14, 2017
December 14th, 2017
Dear Brethren and Co-workers,
Thank you for your faithful support of this Work. Many of you have been co-workers for many years, and some of you have taken an additional step, becoming baptized members of the family of God. Whichever category you may be in, we appreciate your prayers and financial support and pray for God to bless you.
It is that time of year again. “Tis the season to be jolly!” Office parties celebrate with eggnog and mistletoe. Trees, lights, and a chubby man with reindeer decorate homes. Holiday shoppers jostle with one another, struggling to figure out what to give Uncle George and the neighbor who gave them something last year.
How often we hear the refrain, “Put Christ back in Christmas!” My dear friends, as shocking as it may sound, Christ was never in Christmas, and this is really not disputable. Even a casual search on the Internet or at a local library verifies this, and virtually every year at this time there will be articles in newspapers reminding us of this truth if we have ears to hear and eyes to see.
Why is it that people who claim to follow Christ will perpetuate the lie, not only to one another, but to their very own children and grandchildren, when Jesus stated explicitly that we are not to bear false witness (Matthew 19:18)? Further, Jesus chided the people of His day, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Please bear with me as we clarify only a few falsehoods told at this time of year.
- The Bible does not reveal the exact date of Jesus’ birth. December 25th was chosen because it was known as the birth of the sun god, Mithras, when days begin to lengthen.
- Nowhere in the Bible do we ever read of anyone celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Yes, we read of Jesus’ birth, but not His yearly birthday. “As late as 245 Origen, in his eighth homily on Leviticus, repudiates as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ ‘as if he were a king Pharaoh’” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed.).
- We know that whatever day Jesus was born, it was not in the winter. Shepherds brought their sheep in from the field prior to the cold rainy season. Compare Luke 2:8 and Ezra 10:9. (The 20th day of the 9th month on the Hebrew calendar falls sometime around early to mid-December.) As Adam Clarke’s Commentary explains regarding Luke 2:8, “On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up.”
- The wise men did not arrive on the night in which Christ was born. They did not find Him in a stable, but in a house, and there is no mention of Joseph being there (Matthew 2:11). “The reference to the child suggests that this may have been a considerable number of months after His birth. The Magi probably told Herod when they first saw the star, and his killing of the children two years old and under (v. 16) suggests that there was a fair period of time involved” (The New Bible Commentary Revised).
- The Christmas tradition of giving gifts to one another does not come from the example of the wise men. They gave Jesus gifts because He was born to be a King, as this was proper protocol. This is a custom to this day when appearing before a king or ruler. Rather, the tradition of gift-giving goes back to another ancient heathen tradition, as shown by this quote from the highly respected Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity: “The Christian church took over many pagan ideas and images. From sun-worship, for example, came the celebration of Christ’s birth on the twenty-fifth of December, the birthday of the Sun. Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival of 17-21 of December, provided the merriment, gift-giving and candles typical of later Christmas holidays” (p. 131).
Dear Brethren and Co-workers, are you offended because I tell you the truth? I sincerely hope not. However, I know that telling the truth may cause some to stumble and decide to no longer support this Work. If we are the true servants of God, we must not be afraid of the truth. Remember when Jesus explained to His followers that they must eat of His flesh and drink of His blood? We are told, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). They did not understand what He meant by this statement. While disputing with the Jews on another point, He told them, “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me” (John 8:45). And the Apostle Paul faced the same problem, even among some in the Church of God: “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16).
Most people really do not understand what they are doing at this time of year. They simply carry on traditions handed down by parents and society in general. I grew up doing so, and I still remember trying to sort out this Santa thing at the age of six while living in a one-room house in Alaska.
The god of this world (Ephesians 2:2) knows what he is doing. He appeals to all our senses. Beautiful music plays everywhere. It is nearly impossible to avoid it. There is the smell of evergreen and eggnog. Children eagerly open presents wondering what is inside. Special foods and dinners satisfy the palate. And who can deny that at least some of the light displays are beautiful to the eyes? But one must ask, “What has all this to do with Christ?” And, “Does all of this please our Savior?” (See Deuteronomy 12:29-32 and Jeremiah 10:1-5.) Christ and the Apostles observed the biblical Festivals, not counterfeit Christian holidays.
Is it not interesting that at this time of year, people will give presents to just about everyone except the One they think they are honoring? Christ is forgotten! We should not give to Christ for the purpose of celebrating Christmas, but neither should we neglect Him. Because many are deceived and still observe Christmas customs, their donations drop off at this time of year.
Dear Brethren and Co-workers, we still have a great Work to do. God is not calling everyone today (John 6:44; Matthew 13:10-17), and I often ask the question, “If God is not calling everyone, why is He calling anyone?” The clear answer is He has called us to do a Work! We must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God and warn our peoples of the consequence for rejecting God and His commandments. We must do what we can do, but in the end, it will be God doing it through us. As our predecessor Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong used to tell us, “We must work as though it all depended on us, but pray as though it all depends on God.” In the end, God will do through us far more than we can ever imagine, and He will reward us far more than we can imagine.
Thank you again for your faithfulness. May God truly bless you!
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
Gerald E. Weston
P.S. Please remember that any contributions dated in December that are postmarked on or before 12/31/2017 will be counted as 2017 donations, and may be tax-deductible in 2017, even if we receive them in January 2018. So be sure any December donation is dated and postmarked no later than December 31. If you prefer to use our online donation system found at www.lcg.org/donations.shtml, the cutoff for 2017 donations will be 11:59 p.m., December 31.