This is a re-post of a blog article I wrote on Christmas Eve, 2013. In thinking about a "Merry Christmas post" for this year, I read this again, and decided to simply share it again in its entirety.
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Believe it or not, Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of
Preachers, was not a fan of Christmas.
He once said in an early sermon “I hold it to be one of the greatest absurdities
under heaven to think that there is any religion in keeping Christmas-day.
There are no probabilities whatever that our Savior Jesus Christ was born on
that day and the observance of it is purely of Popish origin; doubtless those
who are Catholics have a right to hallow it, but I do not see how consistent
Protestants can account it in the least sacred
.” (#57, December 23, 1855
However, he did go on to say that the recognition of our Lord’s
Birth was certainly a worthwhile exercise.
And nearly a decade later he issued a call for the church to enter this
season with a “merriness” that imitates that of Mary. Here are his words preaching on the text from
Luke 1:46-47, on December 25th, 1864
Observe…the sacred joy of Mary that you may imitate it. This
is a season when all men expect us to be joyous. We compliment each other with
the desire that we may have a “Merry Christmas.” Some Christians who are a
little squeamish, do not like the word “merry.” It is a right good old Saxon
word, having the joy of childhood and the mirth of manhood in it, it brings
before one’s mind the old song of the waits, and the midnight peal of bells,
the holly and the blazing log. I love it for its place in that most tender of
all parables, where it is written, that, when the long-lost prodigal returned
to his father safe and sound, “They began to be merry.” This is the season when
we are expected to be happy; and my heart’s desire is, that in the highest and
best sense, you who are believers may be “merry.”
Mary’s heart was merry within her; but here was the mark of
her joy, it was all holy merriment, it was every drop of it sacred mirth. It was
not such merriment as worldlings will revel in to-day and to-morrow, but such
merriment as the angels have around the throne, where they sing, “Glory to God
in the highest,” while we sing “On earth peace, goodwill towards men.” Such
merry hearts have a continual feast. I want you, ye children of the
bride-chamber, to possess to-day and to-morrow, yea, all your days, the high
and consecrated bliss of Mary, that you may not only read her words, but use
them for yourselves, ever experiencing their meaning: “My soul doth magnify the
Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.”
And, yet, Spurgeon revealed his fear that many would not be
focusing on this true joy during the holidays, and ends with a plea for God’s people to join Mary
in her merry song.
There will be much music to-morrow which would not chime in
with hers. There will be much mirth to-morrow, and much laughter, but I am
afraid the most of it would not accord with Mary’s song. It will not be, “My
soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” We would
not stop the play of the animal spirits in young or old; we would not abate one
jot of your relish of the mercies of God, so long ‘as ye break not his command
by wantonness, or drunkenness, or excess: but still, when you have had the most
of this bodily exercise, it profiteth little, it is only the joy of the
fleeting hour, and not the happiness of the spirit which abideth; and therefore
Mary must sing alone, as far as you are concerned. The joy of the table is too
low for Mary; the joy of the feast and the family grovels when compared with
hers, But shall she sing alone? Certainly not, if this day any of us by simple
trust in Jesus can take Christ to be our own. Does the Spirit of God this day
lead thee to say, “I trust my soul on Jesus?”
My dear friend, then thou hast conceived Christ: after the
mystical and best sense of that word, Christ Jesus is conceived in thy soul.
Dost thou understand him as the sin-bearer, taking away transgression? Canst
thou see him bleeding as the substitute for men? Dost thou accept him as such?
Does thy faith put all her dependence upon what he did, upon what he is, upon
what he does? Then Christ is conceived in thee, and thou mayest go thy way with
all the joy that Mary knew; and I was half ready to say, with something more;
for the natural conception of the Savior’s holy body was not one-tenth so meet a
theme for congratulation as the spiritual conception of the holy Jesus within
your heart when he shall be in you the hope of glory.
My dear friend, if Christ be thine, there is no song on
earth too high, too holy for thee to sing; nay, there is no song which thrills
from angelic lips, no note which thrills Archangel’s tongue in which thou
mayest not join. Even this day, the holiest, the happiest, the most glorious of
words, and thoughts, and emotions belong to thee. Use them! God help thee to
enjoy them; and his be the praise, while thine is the comfort evermore. Amen
And Amen. May you
like Mary, enjoy a truly Merry Christmas.