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CELEBRATING ADVENT & CHRISTMAS TODAY

Not finding Advent and Christmas explicitly named in the Bible, many of our Evangelical forebears refused to celebrate it. Some of my heroes, the Calvinistic Baptists of the 18th century, are a good example in this regard. But while we must learn from the past—a deep-seated conviction I live my life by—we don’t live in those days. It is today we must seize for Christ. And it is Scriptural to set apart days—even seasons—to reflect on God’s goodness and mercy, and to seek his face. And the Advent—blessed are all those who long for Christ’s appearing—and Christmas seasons are a marvellous time for such reflection and such seeking.

PS It is very interesting that many of those remarkable brothers and sisters of the 18th century were adamant about celebrating the Fifth of November—the anniversary of England’s deliverance from the Gunpowder plot in the first decade of the seventeenth century and then of the landing of William III in England in 1688, “King Billy,” who brought religious toleration.

I think, for example of Caleb Evans’ great sermon on British Constitutional Liberty given on November 5, 1775 or Evans’ The remembrance of former days (Bristol, 1778).

Was that hypocrisy? Not at all. I simply think Advent and Christmas are more important than November 5—though I do value religious freedom (see previous post!).

What are some of your family's holiday traditions. My family is young and we are trying to think carefully about how the Christmas season will be observed in our home. We want to confront materialism and hope in the gospel. How is this done in your home?

Ben, My tradition is liturgical, and I've maintained many of those traditions, with the accompanying explanation of the symbolism, such as advent wreaths and advent calendars. Frequently, a good advent calendar has the prophetic verses on the inside door to remind us of our expected hope. Some friends only open one gift on Christmas, then continue through the 12 days of Christmas (if you have that many gifts). We usually purchase only one gift for Christmas for my child. This year we will celebrate St Nicolas' Day on the traditional Dec 6 rather than to associate it with Dec 25. Also, Boxing Day has its roots, as I understand it, as the Feast of Stephen, so why not do some real "alms-giving and taking care of widows" like the first martyr? Merry Christmas!

My wife and I are trying to celebrate Advent this year for the first time and finding it both interesting and a bit daunting. Any good websites or resources you can offer for us to check out would be greatly appreciated!
And thanks for the great website!

Dear anon and Ben:

I actually know of no websites--not because none exist--but because I have not checked for them. Nancy Woods' ideas are excellent. We also use an advent calendar, take time to view family films that honour the values associated with Christmas, so spend time together as a family--always worship on Christmas eve at our church, making sure that comes before all else. On Christmas Day we eat togther, read Scipture and a poem by a Christian author before we open any presents.

Hope these notes are of some value.

Thank you for your input on my question above (Anonymous). Actually, we live in North India where the Christmas holiday is not celebrated. Most Indians are quite interested in "our holiday" and so they ask many questions. So this year we set up an advent "wreath" using Indian diyas (small candles in tradtional clay pots). Still, it kind of feels like we are making this up as we go a long.
Thanks again,
TJ

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