Counsel of Chalcedon
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A Reformed Pastor's Thoughts on the Observance of Christmas

The last two weeks of each year are not easy ones for many Reformed Christians. Our culture's Christmas observances make us feel extremely uncomfortable. We loathe the materialism and worldliness associated with Christmas. Moreover, we wonder why so many churches feel the need to modify their worship services and physical appearances in order to "celebrate" the season. We are often questioned as to why our church doesn't hold candlelight vigils on Christmas Eve, perform Christmas cantatas one Sunday near Christmas, or decorate a Christmas tree in the narthex. Most Christians cannot imagine what could be wrong with these innocent traditions. Reformed Christians who have opted out of Christmas observance at all levels are viewed with intense suspicion by family members and friends. In addition, differences of practice within the Reformed community often cause us to view one another with a censorious attitude or hurt feelings. It has been my observation that many Reformed Christians experience anxiety and uncertainty respecting the Christian's proper attitude toward Christmas. As a Reformed pastor who has struggled with the issue, I have a few thoughts to share with you on the subject. The majority of them are mainstream Reformed principles respecting the inappropriateness of observing Christmas as a religious holiday. It is also my conviction, however, that Scripture nowhere forbids family gatherings, feast days, giving of gifts, and home decoration. These are matters of preference or taste that are not under the province of the regulative principle of worship, and provided they are observed according to the general guidelines of modesty, sobriety, and good taste taught in the Bible, are legitimate for the Christian to enjoy as one of God's many gifts to his people and an expression of the Christian liberty granted to us through Christ Jesus.