My buddy Pastor Michael Lefebvre did great little piece on holidays and Holy Days. Christmas can be a situation where we all cry foul based upon our historical heritage and doctrinal differences. But I thought this was good.
I will leave you with a teaser…..
I am one of those pastors who still believes the church should not include these holidays in the worship calendar. But I also don’t want to maintain that distinction in stubbornness or merely out of fondness for “old style presbyterianism.” So, I thought I’d take a couple of paragraphs–speaking for myself at least–to explain why I still believe this is a matter of biblical conviction.
First of all, there is one religious calendar that goes all the way back to the creation: the weekly religious calendar. God appointed the sabbath day as a religious day to be observed weekly. The Ten Commandments reaffirm that this weekly day of worship sets the cadence of life for God’s people. The New Testament also continues to call us to weekly sabbath (or, Lord’s Day) worship (more on this, later). The weekly religious calendar is biblical, and continues in force.
The annual religious calendar is also biblical in its origin. The annual calendar was not instituted at creation, but it was added with the Levitical Laws at Sinai. There were seven holy days originally instituted in Israel’s yearly calendar (Lev. 23). Three of those festivals involved mandatory pilgrimages to the Temple: Passover, Pentecost, and Booths (Deut. 16).
All of these holy days–the weekly sabbath and the annual festivals–were anticipatory celebrations. Even though they each looked back to a day that demonstrated something about the saving work of God, they also looked forward to the fulfillment of that great work. The sabbath looked back to God’s rest after creation; it also looks forward to creation’s rest after consummation. The Passover looked back to the lambs slaughtered so that Israel could escape Egypt; it also looked forward to the Lamb of God who would, once and for all, truly deliver God’s people from the bondage of sin. The nature of holy days in Scripture is consistently to look back upon an event that demonstrated something about God’s saving work, in order to look forward to the fulfillment of the promise demonstrated.
What do we do with the festivals, then, when their fulfillment has come in Christ? The way I have laid out my case in the above paragraphs should make it obvious what I believe the answer should be. But let me try to be fair in how I explain both the answer I represent (i.e., the festivals are over) and that of another perspective (i.e., that the Levitical festivals continue, and what this has to do with Christmas).