A merry churchmas?
While growing up in the OAC, Christmas was viewed as a celebration by the “world”. The definition of “the world” in OAC terms refers to non-believers, i.e. non-OAC members irrespective of whether they are Christian or not. I remember how a “Priest” would preach that on Christmas day, the shopkeepers would gather their families around the table and they would start counting all their money. While counting all their money they would be singing “what a friend we have in Jesus”. Back then we believed that every day of the year should be regarded as Christmas because Christ was “born in us” daily.
Nowhere does the Bible say that Christ gets born in us daily. Christ does not get born in us daily, He was born as the Messiah only once (Matthew 1:16-25) and it is us that must get born again (John 3:1-8, 1 Peter 1:18-25).
Our old man that served sin (previous sinful way of life) is crucified with Christ so that sin won’t reign in our mortal bodies (Romans 6:6-14). When we are dead to sin then we become alive to God through Jesus Christ. If you don’t obey the sinful lusts of your body, you are a new man wherein the word of Christ dwells richly and the old man (old sinful way of life) is crucified (Galatians 5:24). The new man we put on is created in righteousness and true holiness, renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Ephesians 4:20-32, Colossians 3:1-17). If you return to your old sinful way of life then you crucify to yourself the Son of God afresh (Hebrews 6:4-6).
- Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11, Luke 11:3)
- Jesus taught us to deny ourselves daily, pick up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23-26)
- Jesus doesn’t need to offer up sacrifices daily like the priests, because Jesus did this only once when He offered up Himself (Hebrews 7:22-28, Hebrews 10:1-18)
In recent years the OAC’s stance on Christmas has changed slightly, and there are still varying opinions regarding Christmas. Many members believe Christmas is actually the day they were “sealed”.
Nowadays December 25th is celebrated in the OAC as the day of the covenant.
An OAC “Elder” wrote: “...I tell the world that Christmas is special because I commemorate the birth of the child Christ in my life. This is why we call it the day of the covenant in our Church...”
OAC Home Tuition Calendar (19 December 2016): “...On Christmas day we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and the fulfilment of the covenant God made with man. God was made flesh, even for us today, and the kingdom of God came within our reach, as He proclaimed it so by the words: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” [GAL 4:4-5; JOH 1:14; MAT 4:17]...”
OAC Home Tuition Calendar (22 December 2016): “...God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to save whoever believes in Him [JOH 3:16]. Christmas is the time when we think of our own beginning in Christ, the Church. We became members, individually, in the body of Christ. We are in Him who is true and this is the true God and eternal life.
[1 COR 12:27; 1 JOH 5:20]...”
OAC Current Teaching (25 December 2017): “...Today is a very special day and we will attend the Christmas services. So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." [LUK 2:15] How do we respond to the wonder of Christmas? We need to revisit the day we made a covenant with the living God – the beginning of our lives in Christ, the Church – our rebirth through water and the Spirit. [1 PET 1:23]...”
See how the focus is shifted from Christ to the OAC (“...in Christ, the Church...”)? Christ is not a Church, He is the head of the church (1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:22-32, Colossians 1:18)?
Coincidentally, the founding father of the OAC, Carl (Karl) George Klibbe was born on December 25th, 1852. Nowadays the OAC celebrates the day of the covenant on his birthday.
An OAC “Priest” wrote the following: “...Jesus is supposed to be the most famous human to walk the earth naturally. If so why was his actual birth date not recorded ? No dates of birth of ANY biblical figure is recorded simply because they were never born physically...”
An OAC “Underdeacon” wrote the following: “...Those who said jesus was human being, let them give me the verse that says he was born on the 25th December?...”
These statements by myopic OAC officers are blatantly ignorant and atheistic. There is archaeological evidence of biblical figures and they were not figments of the imagination. When I mentioned the arguments of these OAC officers to my wife, she laughed and said that if none of the biblical figures ever existed, then the persons who wrote the Bible must have had a very good imagination. My wife, still laughing, asked me if these OAC officers had been smoking something. Unfortunately this is no laughing matter and terribly tragic, the OAC officers mentioned above are serving a god of imagination.
Very little is written in the Bible regarding birthdays, and what we do read is not very positive. We read the following in the Bible:
- On the Pharaoh’s birthday, the chief baker was hanged (Genesis 40:20-22)
- Job cursed the day he was born (Job 3:1-5)
- Jeremiah cursed the day he was born (Jeremiah 20:14-18)
- On Herod the tetrarch’s birthday, John the Baptist was beheaded (Matthew 14:6-11, Mark 6:21-28)
Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.
The celebration of birthdays was regarded as a tradition that justified the flesh, which is why early Jews and Christians did not celebrate birthdays as these were pagan customs.
Jesus was not born in December though; December in the Northern Hemisphere is winter.
During winter the shepherds kept their flocks in stables or indoors at night, the shepherds wouldn't have been abiding in the fields at night to keep watch over their flocks during winter. Besides, what would their flocks have been grazing on anyway in the middle of winter out in the fields?
First century homes in Judea had an upper level that served as a guest chamber, and a lower level that served as the living and dining rooms. Vulnerable animals would also be brought in to the lower level at night to protect them from the cold.
|Jerusalem in winter|
December to February is winter in Israel, which means temperatures of between 5º-18º Celsius in Tel Aviv. It may get colder around Jerusalem and the Ramat Hagolan mountains down to a level of 0º Celsius at night.
Luke 2:8-11 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
The flocks were out in the field at night because it wasn’t winter, thus Mary likely gave birth to Jesus where some of the animals would’ve been brought in during the winter. Bear in mind that a manger is a container (usually in a barn or stable) from which cattle or horses feed; a feeding trough.
Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
According to Strong’s, the word “manger” is translated from the Greek word phatnē and is defined as:
(to eat); a crib (for fodder): - manger, stall.
The birth of Jesus was a BIG deal, not a daily occurrence! His birth was announced by means of a star to wise men in the east that came to worship Him (Matthew 2:1-2). His birth caused an angel, a multitude of heavenly host and shepherds to glorify and praise God (Luke 2:8-21). The Bible is littered with verses that alluded to the great day that Jesus was born although the exact date was erased from history in order to protect Him from Herod who wanted to kill Him.
The birth of Jesus is part of the foundation of Christianity; namely His birth, His death and His resurrection. Times and dates are of no consequence but the birth of Jesus was important, because it’s important to know and understand that God became man and paid the highest sacrifice for us on the cross of Calvary, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. This would not have been possible if Jesus was never physically born.
Christmas was unknown in the early church, Christmas as a celebration was only introduced sometime after 300. However, during the time of Jesus there was another feast that took place in winter. Although this festival is not mentioned in the Old Testament, its origins occurred between the last book of the Old Testament and the first book of the New Testament.
John 10:22-23 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.
The feast of the dedication is known as Chanukah (Hanukkah) or the festival of lights and remembers the dedication of the Temple by Judah Maccabee after he had conquered the armies of the Syrian oppressor, Antiochus Epiphanes, who had polluted the Temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar.
The events took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea, now known as Israel. It begins in the reign of Alexander the Great, who conquered Syria, Egypt, and Israel, but allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions and retain a certain degree of autonomy. More than 100 years after Alexander, Antiochus IV rose to power in the region. He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, and desecrating the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs on the altar. One of the groups which opposed Antiochus was led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee.
This small band of pious Jews led guerrilla warfare against the Syrian army. Antiochus sent thousands of well-armed troops to crush the rebellion, but the Maccabees succeeded in driving the foreigners from their land. When Jewish fighters entered Jerusalem, the Temple was in shambles, defiled and desecrated by foreign soldiers.
The Maccabees cleansed the Temple and re-dedicated it on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, a day which typically falls in November or December. When it came time to re-light the Menorah, they searched the entire Temple, but only one small jar of oil bearing the pure seal of the High Priest could be found. Miraculously, the small jar of oil burned for eight days, until a new supply of oil could be brought.
From then on these days were appointed as an annual festival with prayers of praise and thanksgiving. This festival is observed for eight days in honor of this historic victory and the miracle of the oil. The observance features the lighting of a special lamp stand with eight branches plus a helper candle, adding one new candle each night with prayers of thanksgiving.
The Afrikaans word kersfees seems to be an apt description of the festival of lights (kers = candle, fees = festival).
During this great season of remembering miracles, Jesus pointed out to His listeners that the miracles He had done authenticated His claim that He was, indeed, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah (John 10:37-38). His works and His true character clearly demonstrated who He was. The Lord Jesus gives all of us the light of life. The light He gives us is meant to be shared.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Jesus became the incarnate, physical expression of our Heavenly Father's presence, the light of the world, who came to dwell among us and give us the eternal light.
Jesus told us that whoever follows Him will not have darkness, but the light of life. What a wonderful time of the year to remember and commemorate the great miracle that our Father has done for us, by giving us new light and new life. We can celebrate by rededicating our lives to Christ and acknowledge Him as the perfect and true light of this world. The temple belongs to God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Ephesians 2:19-22).
At this time, and every day thereafter, let us remember that Jesus is the light of the world. Let us not worship our Father in allegories and lies, but in spirit and truth (John 4:22-24).
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.