People are always decrying Christmas for its commercialism, whether it is Santa Specials on steam railways like this one, or big businesses with billions over turnover. Equally, there are those who dismiss Christmas as purely pagan. The danger with this type of argument is that if it is taken to extremes it questions the sovereignty of God. In Genesis Chapter 1 every stage of creation as being good or very good, yet if you accept everything that is coming from those who attack traditional Christian festivals for their alleged pagan origins seem to give the impression that Adam and Eve were confined to the Garden of Eden because everything outside was pagan and demonic. True, a lot of pagan imagery reflects the seasonal variations but God created the seasons. So one can argue that the pagans have borrowed their imagery from God’s creation in the first place, in that case the Church is only reclaiming what was rightfully theirs anyway. When people hear the teaching that everything is pagan they become very fearful of offending God in some trivial that they lose their freedom in Christ.
A second thought concerning Christmas is about the shepherds. Apparently, by the time of Jesus’ birth shepherds had become very low status and looked down upon by other Jews. Interestingly in Genesis chapters 46-7 when Joseph met with his father and brothers in Egypt, Joseph told his brothers that “Shepherds were detestable to the Egyptians,” It would appear that when the Israelites entered the promised land and settled down they forgot how their ancestors originated their wealth. The Jewish religious leaders claimed they were the sons of Abraham when they confronted Jesus who questioned that they were true sons of Abraham. In John chapter 8 verses 39-41 Jesus said “If you were Abraham’ children, then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God, Abraham did not do such things.” If you accept that the “Angel of the Lord” who met with Abraham in Genesis chapter 18 was actually the pre-incarnate Christ then Abraham gave hospitality to Christ himself. Whereas the priesthood and most of the other religious leaders did not even entertain the thought that Jesus could be the Messiah. So when the birth of Jesus was announced to the shepherds that night maybe it was because they were continuing in the same business as Abraham.
David Rose, 2017.