Oh Come Let Us Adore Him ...
It was 1992 when I wrote and first posted this essay as a
to my net families. I wrote it originally as a response to a debate that
raged on SDAnet the first Christmas that I was a part of that group over whether we as
and especially as Seventh-day Adventist Christians, should observe Christmas in celebration of
birth of Christ.
It was indeed encouraging to me when after posting this essay that year,
I received a
heart-warming letter in which the writer expressed thanks for the new
that had come to their home in regard to celebrating Christmas....and
they had, for the first time, been able to reconcile the observance of
Christmas with the facts of its pagan associations and its not being the
actual day of Christ's birth.
Each Christmas season since then I have sent it again to my net family,
as well as making it available year round on this section of our At
Issue pages, hoping that those who enter
the joy of the season may find some new thoughts about the holiday you
dear...and that those who may have had prohibitions or reservations about
celebrating Christmas may be encouraged to look at the day in a more
way...and join with us, and with the angels, in singing...
Joy to the world,
The Lord is come....
Reflections on Christmas...
...and solstice and pagans and Jews and Gentiles and times and seasons
angels' songs and Christmas trees--and a baby born in a stable.
On winter Solstice... Could one born in the tropics comprehend the long,
dark, winter arctic night? Or even we of temperate zones, in our
well lighted rooms--what can we know of the feelings of earlier tribes
watched the sunlit hours grow fewer and fainter each day, until there
solstice and the sun stopped its retreat and began to return. Those who
knew the Lord--that it was He who made the sun, and ordered the
seasons--these surely celebrated and gave Him thanks, and praised the Lord
they saw the sun returning. When they saw the season turning,
they worshiped Him.
But not all knew the Lord. Some saw only the things that were made--the
sun and the earth that provided their food. And they (some
some willfully) turned from worshiping the Lord to worshiping
those things the Lord had made. We call them pagans. At the
of the season they called solstice, they celebrated, and gave
and praised and worshiped those things that were but the signs of
turning of the year.
And then came Jesus. And Christians chose the solstice celebration and
appropriated it as a celebration of His coming. And some
think this was a very bad thing to do--for Solstice had
and Christ was not born at Solstice.
But think with me a little farther. Perhaps it should not be so quickly
First of all, did Pagans really *originate* the celebrations of
I tend to agree with C. S. Lewis when he observes that Satan does not
"originate" anything. He has no creative power. He only
perverts, he turns men from worshiping the creator to worshiping the
creation. But it is the function of the gospel to turn men's hearts
to worshiping the true God. So why should we think of Solstice as
only a pagan holiday which was "Christianized"? (This term
suppose, only a thin veneer of respectability which covers a pagan--and
therefore evil--heart.) Might we not better think of it as a holiday,
holy day--a day of celebration, praise, and
Christianity reclaimed--that is, removed its pagan heart--and redirected its
and worship back to the true Creator God?
It is true, Christ was not born at winter solstice as men count
turning seasons of the year. Yet Christ was born at winter
solstice--in the turning of the history of the world.
When "the light of truth seemed to have departed from among men,
faith had grown dim, and hope had well-nigh ceased to illuminate
future." when "the dark shadow that Satan had cast over the
deeper and deeper," when even the "priests who ministered in
had lost sight of the significance of the service they performed,"
"the deception of sin had reached its height," when all the
seemed, lived in an arctic winter darkness...
"When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His
Son". . .
"Wonder, O heavens! And be astonished, O earth!" (quotes from
Ages by Ellen White) Then it was that angels brought light and song
celebration to temple shepherds keeping watch...for Christ the Lord
born that day! It was "Christ-mas" day--the first glimmer of
"return of the Son", the beginning of God's
sacrifice"--that was to culminate at Gethsemane and Calvary and
forth on the resurrection morning in light more glorious than the
The gods of field and forest and star and sun and Roman Empire were
to be no gods. And the day of praise which they had usurped was
back to God. The day of celebrations for the sun's return was made a
of celebration for the coming of the Sun of Righteousness, the babe
Oh, yes, from our vantage point in history, we know that not all men
their full allegiance to the King of Kings. We know that
allowed pagan thoughts to infiltrate the church, causing a period
great darkness even in the church. We know that Christians today
not single minded in their worship. We even know that paganism is
arising again, that Christ is being outlawed from public schools
government property while neo-pagan and Gaia (earth) rituals are
encouraged. Solstice is once more being celebrated by some. So
be against pagan elements that have clung to (or grown upon) the
day called Christmas. Let's be against the secular
of Christmas. But please! Let's not let (or help) these same
squeeze Christ out of our Christmas!
If the celebration of solstice had not existed, would Christians have
started it? We just might have--we who lived in lands of ice and
and long winter nights--we just might have. Darkness is
We just might have cheered each other with tales of light and song
Bethlehem. I hope we would have. Maybe, in fact, we did. Our
day pagans (and their true leader) would like to take credit for
more than history actually records. Let us not glorify them.
never quite lives up to its own self-portrait.
There's a song that keeps running through my head, "Christmas helps
remember, to do what other folks hold dear." Not all the spending,
the over-spending, that goes on at Christmas has to do with
gratification of "lusts". This is the time of year when we can
our timidities and give to those we love. What if we sacrifice a bit
our selves. What if the merchant is enriched as well as our friend--it's
Christmas. God gave Himself to us. It is that thought that helps us step
outside ourselves and give a bit extra to each other.
At our house, we have a tree. It is a fir tree. (We can still get real
trees where I live--though we can't go out and cut our own as
we once did.)
It will die. And as it dies it will release its perfume. More than it
in its living, it will bless us in its dying. I see symbolism here
that looks beyond the manger to a life of blessing and a death of
We have lights on our tree--and an angel on the
top--the one my oldest
picked out the Christmas he was five. We will remember--stars and angels
and Bethlehem and Christmases past. Our tree trimmings all have history--some we made when our children were little, some were gifts from very
friends, some are merely decorative. Our traditions bind us as a family--and not just our visible family. We celebrate the birthday of our
For you who do not see beyond the commercialization or paganization of
Christmas, I pray that your eyes may be opened. May you see, and
feel, and know, along with those of us who celebrate, the peace and love
and joy and hope that is kindled anew with each remembrance of His
For you who sing the songs of Christmas...May your hearts open to his love
and peace in a new and joyfully intense way on this Christmas.
At Issue Editor