I was six years old when Christmas Day became an official holiday in Scotland! That’s right—1958! Until the 1960s, it was the norm for most people across the country to work as usual if December 25 fell on a weekday. The reason for this was not secular but religious. The Scottish Reformation not only removed the dogma of Roman Catholicism but also frowned upon superstitious celebrations of “Yuletide.” In my own city of Glasgow, even singing a Christmas carol was considered a crime, and in 1640 an Act of Parliament made celebrating Christmas illegal. In my lifetime, the headmaster of a local elementary school in the Scottish Highlands was dismissed for having a Christmas tree in the vestibule.
So try to put yourself in the position of true believers whose commitment to Scripture meant that they must try to stay with the message—“For unto you is born this day … a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”—in the face of all kinds of “superstitious” intrusions. Ironically, we find ourselves in a similar situation, inasmuch as we have to work hard to resist Christmas’s secular, commercial trappings in an endeavor to get to and stay with the “good news of great joy.”
Perhaps you’re already saying to yourself, “This explains why in Disney’s version of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is cast as a Scotsman.” You may even be fearful that my love for the Reformers has robbed me of real “comfort and joy.”
Do yourselves no harm; I really love Christmas, and for my joyful participation I would probably have been excommunicated from Glasgow Cathedral in 1583. I often wonder what it must be like to celebrate Christmas in countries that are entirely opposed to or closed to the Gospel. The absence of all the outward trappings would cause us to focus entirely on the wonder of Emmanuel, “God with us.”
As Christmas approaches, let’s pray for one another that the Lord Jesus will be increasingly precious to us, that His presence will fill our homes, and that the light of the Gospel will flood our communities.
On behalf of all of us here at Truth For Life, have a blessed and joyous Christmas.
With my love in the Lord Jesus,
P.S. Don’t miss the opportunity to join us for the Parkside Church Christmas concerts via live stream at truthforlife.org/live on December 13, 14, and 15 at 7 pm EST.
Topics: Letters From Alistair Begg