“Christmas is coming” is the note that is sounded throughout our world from East to West and from North to South. With youth, those of mature age, and even the aged, it is a period of general rejoicing, of great gladness. But what is Christmas, that it should demand so much attention? This day has been made much of for centuries. It is accepted by the unbelieving world, and by the Christian world generally, as the day on which Christ was born. When the world at large celebrates the day, they show no honor to Christ. They refuse to acknowledge him as their Savior, to honor Him by willing obedience to His service. They show preference to the day, but none to the one for whom the day is celebrated, Jesus Christ.
I. CHRIST’S BIRTHDAY IS NOT KNOWN
The twenty-fifth of December is supposed to be the day
of the birth of Jesus Christ, and its observance has become
customary and popular. But there is no certainty that we are
keeping the veritable day of our Savior’s birth. History gives
us no certain assurance of this. The Bible does not give us
the precise time. Had the Lord deemed this knowledge essential
to our salvation, He would have spoken through His
prophets and apostles, that we might know all about the
matter. . . .
There is no divine sanctity resting upon the twenty-fifth
of December; and it is not pleasing to God that anything that
concerns the salvation of man through the infinite sacrifice
made for them, should be so sadly perverted from its professed
design. Christ should be the supreme object; but as
Christmas has been observed, the glory is turned from Him to mortal man, whose sinful, defective character made it
necessary for Him to come to our world.
II. THE WONDERFUL THEME OF THE INCARNATION
Jesus, the Majesty of heaven, the royal King of heaven,
laid aside His royalty, left His throne of glory, His high command,
and came into our world to bring to fallen man, weakened
in moral power, and corrupted by sin, aid divine. He
clothed His divinity with humanity, that He might reach to the
very depths of human woe and misery, to lift up fallen man.
By taking upon Himself man’s nature, He raised humanity in
the scale of moral value with God. These great themes are
almost too high, too deep, too infinite for the comprehension
of finite minds.
III. THE GIFT SEASON FOR GOD’S CAUSE
Parents should keep these things before their children,
and instruct them, line upon line, precept upon precept, in
their obligation to God—not their obligation to each other,
to honor and glorify one another by gifts and offerings. But
they should be taught that Jesus is the world’s Redeemer,
the object of thought, of painstaking effort; that His work is
the grand theme which should engage their attention; that
they should bring to Him their gifts and offerings. Thus did
the wise men and the shepherds.
IV. A DAY OF GLADNESS AND REJOICING
As the twenty-fifth day of December is observed to commemorate
the birth of Christ, as the children have been instructed
by precept and example that this was indeed a day
of gladness and rejoicing, you will find it a difficult matter to pass over this period without giving it some attention. It can
be made to serve a very good purpose.
The youth should be treated very carefully. They should
not be left on Christmas to find their own amusement in vanity
and pleasure-seeking, in amusements which will be detrimental
to their spirituality. Parents can control this matter by
turning the minds and the offerings of their children to God
and His cause and the salvation of souls.
V. NOT TO BE IGNORED WITH CHILDREN
The desire for amusement, instead of being quenched
and arbitrarily ruled down, should be controlled and directed
by painstaking effort upon the part of the parents. Their desire
to make gifts may be turned into pure and holy channels,
and made to result in good to our fellow-men by supplying
the treasury in the great, grand work for which Christ
came into our world. Self-denial and self-sacrifice marked
His course of action. Let it mark ours who profess to love
Jesus; because in Him is centered our hope of eternal life.
Youth cannot be made as sedate and grave as old age,
the child as sober as the sire. While sinful amusements are
condemned, as they should be, let parents, teachers, and
guardians of youth provide in their stead innocent pleasures,
which shall not taint or corrupt the morals. Do not bind down
the young to rigid rules and restraints that will lead them to
feel themselves oppressed and to break over and rush into
paths of folly and destruction. With a firm, kindly, considerate
hand, hold the lines of government, guiding and controlling
their minds and purposes, yet so gently, so wisely, so
lovingly, that they still will know that you have their best good
in view. . . .
VI. THE EMBLEM OF THE EVERGREEN
On Christmas, so soon to come, let not the parents take
the position that an evergreen placed in the church for the
amusement of the Sabbath-school scholars is a sin; for
it may be made a great blessing. Keep before their minds
benevolent objects. In no case should mere amusement be
the object of these gatherings. While there may be some
who will turn these occasions into seasons of careless levity,
and whose minds will not receive the divine impress, to other minds and characters these seasons will be highly
beneficial. I am fully satisfied that innocent substitutes can
be devised for many gatherings that demoralize.
Christmas is coming. May you all have wisdom to make
it a precious season. Let the older church members unite,
heart and soul, with their children in this innocent amusement
and recreation, in devising ways and means to show
true respect to Jesus by bringing to Him gifts and offerings.
Let everyone remember the claims of God. His cause cannot
go forward without your aid. Let the gifts you have usually
bestowed upon one another be placed in the Lord’s treasury.
. . . In every church let your smaller offerings be placed upon
your Christmas tree. Let the precious emblem, “evergreen,”
suggest the holy work of God and His beneficence to us;
and the loving heart-work will be to save other souls who
are in darkness. Let your works be in accordance with your
faith. . . .
Let there be recorded in the heavenly books such a
Christmas as has never yet been seen, because of the donations
which shall be given for the sustaining of the work of
God and the upbuilding of his kingdom.1
VII. INTERCHANGE OF HOLIDAY GIFTS
The holiday season is fast approaching with its interchange
of gifts, and old and young are intently studying what
they can bestow upon their friends as a token of affectionate
remembrance. It is pleasant to receive a gift, however small,
from those we love. It is an assurance that we are not forgotten,
and seems to bind us to them a little closer.
VIII. MAKING MELODY AND PRAISING GOD
Brethren and sisters, while you are devising gifts for one
another, I would remind you of our heavenly Friend, lest you
should be unmindful of His claims. Will He not be pleased if
we show that we have not forgotten Him? Jesus, the Prince
of Life, gave all to bring salvation within our reach. . . .
It is through Christ that we receive every blessing. . . .
Shall not our heavenly Benefactor share in the tokens of our
gratitude and love? Come, brethren and sisters, come with
your children, even the babes in your arms, and bring your
offerings to God according to your ability. Make melody to
Him in your hearts, and let His praise be upon your lips. . . .
IX. NOT FORGETTING GOD
While urging upon all the duty of first bringing their offerings
to God, I would not wholly condemn the practice of
making Christmas and New Year’s gifts to our friends. It is
right to bestow upon one another tokens of love and remembrance
if we do not in this forget God, our best friend. We
should make our gifts such as will prove a real benefit to the
1 Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Dec. 9, 1884.
Ibid., Dec. 26, 1882.