In the equivalent of the self-denunciation that occurs in a variety of cults and Vietcong prisoner of war camps, the congregation of Grace Fellowship Church in Davenport, Iowa celebrate assorted holidays by not only being harangued by their pastor as to what wretched Christians they are if they are caught participating in these festivities but they are also expected to confess to one another just how much they despise these occasions as evidenced by a number of sermons posted at SermonAudio.com..
In an anti-Halloween sermon, the pastor remarked that any parents that have taught their children about Santa Claus are guilty of having lied. He then remarked how delighted he was of his son for having responded to an inquiry that Santa Claus was a wicked elf from the north. So the moral of that story must be that falsehoods are acceptable then they advance the family theological agendas and pecularitiies.
In a sermon condemning Halloween and nearly all other holidays, the pastor suggested that if you enjoy the accouterments of a particular celebration, you can partake of it at another time of year. As an example, he suggested saving your marshmallow peeps until May or June.
But if you are required to live your life in such a controlled and contrived manner, aren’t you still living still beholden to that particular holiday? And more importantly, isn’t such an individual still seeking the approval of man rather than God?
In an anti-Halloween sermon, the pastor made the argument that Trick Or Treating was wrong because the custom encourages children to dress up as something they are not and to hoard something that “appeals to the flesh” (that being candy). So in the case of this preacher, it would not be a sin for him to dress as a donkey because he’s certainly a dumb you know what.
In a sermon on Halloween, it was claimed that the customs of Halloween are designed to take children away from God at an early age. Couldn’t something similar be said about legalistic churches and Christian schools pushing children away from God with too many nitpicky and asinine rules?
The pastor devoted a portion of his assorted tirades exposing that Frosty the Snowman was based on a lie. Who over the age of six believes he is real? Even the History Channel hasn’t stooped that low yet. By singing about Frosty, you are no more worshiping Frosty than you would be worshiping Calijah The Wooden Indian or worshiping The Gambler by singing those classic songs.
Particularly unsettling and disturbing were the verbal confessions members of the congregation were expected to engage in order to receive approval and affirmation from the pastors and elders.
One gentleman confided how much he had wanted to celebrate Christmas the previous year but instead submitted himself to the eldership of the church. Buddy, the elders might have say as to whether or not the church building is decorated for Christmas. However, they don’t have any say whatsoever as to what you do in your home.
In being prodded further by the leadership as to why he no longer celebrated Christmas, this individual responded because the authority in his life had instructed him as such. At no time did he clarify whether or not by that he meant the Holy Spirit or rather merely those holding position at church. If you are going to relent to pastoral control over your life to such an extent, please for the sake of your family, decide for yourself now if you are going to let the pastor sleep with your wife and molest your kids when he comes asking or drink the sour Kool Aid when he orders it.
Another seeking approval during this protocultic ritual admitted in her confession to tossing out a Fischer Price Nativity set because of the adoration her granddaughter exhibited towards the Baby Jesus figurine. The grandmother reflected, and rightfully so to a certain extent, that often we prefer the adorable Baby Jesus that is not a depiction of the Christ of wrath and judgment.
But shouldn’t we be cautious about tossing out the messianic baby with the baptismal water? Isn’t there a profound and beautiful truth in God in Christ condescending to our level by becoming one of us?
There are indeed both gentle and wrathful sides to God. And in the spirit of the Book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time and purpose to contemplate each of these under Heaven.
Would it be better to deny this obviously spiritually sensitive and receptive child the tender side of Jesus and instead replace Him only with the hard-edged disciplinarian Jesus that the most thoroughgoing Fundamentalists seem to have a preference for? About the only thing the child is going to retain of this entire encounter is that granny tossed out such a beloved toy or decoration. Her family will no doubt sit around twiddling their thumbs years down the road baffled as to why the child is no longer close to God.
A pastor opposed to the celebration of Christmas remarked that no one that has considered the material he has made available regarding the subject and prayed seriously about the topic has told him that despite these that they will continue celebrating the holiday. The statement was made to promulgate the impression that there is little chance for the true believer to come to any conclusion other than that of this particular pastor.
However, there are at least two other alternatives.
Firstly, the individual believer could have been convicted by the Holy Spirit that there is something more profoundly wrong in that particular congregation than the celebrating of Christmas. Concluding such, they retreat hastily from that particular assembly and flee to another house of worship.
Secondly, they might have considered what the pastor had to say, came to a different conclusion, and felt their was no need to inform the pastor of the decision. Especially in light of those matters where the individual is granted some measure of personalized conviction, it is not really the preacher’s business what goes on in your home. If this brand of theology and ecclesiology makes such a fuss over Roman Catholic confession, they can’t really then invoke some kind of expectation that you are obligated to blab about everything you do.
In these churches where the congregations don’t celebrate Christmas, is it out of a desire to please God or have they been so brainwashed by the pastor that they are afraid of ticking him off?
A pastor can repent of celebrating Christmas as much as he likes. However, it is really not his place to homiletically manipulate and coerce you into doing so.
By Frederick Meekins