Hope no one’s worried that I’m going high church with the Advent themed posts.
I simply like the biblical themes which are addressed at this time of year and believe they are a helpful balance to the generally frenetic and sentimentalised rush the 25th.
Here’s an interesting on where Michael LeFebvre, a Presbyterian pastor, explains how his church don’t celebrate Christmas, yet he has a Christmas tree and gift-giving at home.
There is a helpful exploration of the implied continuities between the biblical feasts, fulfilled by Jesus, and the current ‘church year’, which then goes on to point out that a focus on this order always runs the risk of overwhelming God’s provision of Sunday by Sunday worship and the sacraments as the means by which faith is grown.
I love the Old Testament Law–including the Levitical Laws–because they elegantly express the profound promises accomplished by Christ. But I do not believe the church should re-implement the Levitical Laws, even after redressing them in New Testament language.
It seems an unfortunate irony to me that the church, today, places so much emphasis on the days of the “Christian calendar,” while our care to guard the holiness of the sabbath declines–the one holy day Scripture does call us to continue!
So, my pastorate might be out of step with much of the Christian world–even much of the Reformed world–when it comes to Christian “holy days.” But I hope this brief explanation shows that this position is not taken out of stodgy traditionalism. It is a conviction embraced in loving reverence for Christ who has removed the Levitical Laws, and he has denied the church any authority to adapt and reimpose them.
He then goes on to explain why he feels that having a tree and gift giving at home is permissible, and give some irenic observations about how to regard those whose practice differs from our own.
Civic holidays are different, though. Civic holidays are simply days to remember something important that happened a long time ago. Martin Luther King, Jr., had an important impact on our country, so America has a holiday to remember him. July 4th was also an important day that America remembers every year. If America also adopts a civic holiday to remember Christ’s birth, in principle there is nothing wrong (and much that is good) about that. And the church can (in my view) commend the state for recognizing the importance of Christ in this way.