Presbyterian And Reformed Ambivalence About Christmas
By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog:
The Reformation reception of Christmas was mixed. The Lutherans embraced it and you will take their Christmas tree when you pry it from their cold, dead fingers. The Anglicans embraced it too. Those of the Reformed tradition, however, who embraced the regulative principle and who largely shed the medieval church calendar, were much less receptive to Christmas. ...
The Christmas season is nearing its climax. As the shopping ebbs and the work schedule slows a bit (for some anyway—remember in your prayers your local police and firefighters as this can be a difficult time for them) it gives us opportunity to think a bit about what we are doing and why. Tomorrow evening, on Christmas evening (as observed in the West anyway. Christians in the Eastern traditions keep a different calendar) and on Christmas morning congregations will gather for worship services. Many Christians, especially those with roots in Northern Europe, have Christmas trees in the their homes and sometimes in church buildings. For some it is a joyous time to remember the incarnation and birth of Christ our Lord. For others, however, it is a sad time as the sense of loss and loneliness is especially intense. Of course, we all struggle with the commercialization and sentimentalizing of the holiday.
There are a number of reasons, however, for confessional Reformed and Presbyterian churches to be ambivalent about the Christmas holiday. First, there is no evidence that our Lord was born this time of year. The tradition of associating his birth with 25 December dates the 4th century.