When the Puritans came to the New World, they had a vision for developing a culture in which worship of the One, True God, according to Scripture might be lived out in freedom. They aimed to be––in the words of their leader, William Bradford––”stepping stones” for those who came after them to advance the Gospel to the remotest corner of this newly discovered land. Their mission could be called “long-haul evangelism.”
The modern perception of the Puritans is that they wore scratchy, bland clothes, hunted witches, ostracized adulterers, and were the most boring of company. “Life of the party” would be the antonym for Puritan, at least if you asked the average-joe.
But C.S. Lewis 1Lewis, C. S. English Literature in the Sixteenth Century: Excluding Drama. Amen House, LO: Oxford University Press, 1954. 34 points out that:
Whatever they were, they were not sour, gloomy, or severe; nor did their enemies bring any such charge against them.CS Lewis
They believed the Bible and they took it seriously. This meant that they set out to live according to its every word. That means they feasted joyfully. Played games. Made love. And surprising to many of us, wore colorful clothing. One scholar––Mary Beth Norton––describes them this way:
The Puritans were typical people of their time in that they enjoyed the pleasures of the 17th Century. They liked to drink. They liked to sit and talk. They liked to eat well when they had the food to eat. They enjoyed sex. They also liked to play games, like an early version of shuffleboard. Let’s put it this way: They weren’t ascetics, like monks.Mary Beth Norton
In this light, we should never think of Puritan faithfulness to living according to Scripture as at odds with the enjoyment of earthly blessings. In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, and will mention again, Christmas is a restoration of being truly human. God never intended us to be disembodied spirits. In fact, He is aiming all of history to a resurrection of bodies. Bodies that can enjoy a feast in eternity. A feast with brilliantly lighting, glorious attire, and joyful celebration. That is why Christ came. To bring us true joy. Joy in our Salvation, which allows us to freely enjoy all things.
And remember, Christians have been forgiven and given eternal life. The Puritans knew this, and this formed the basis for their “long-haul evangelism.” Worldly pleasures are empty without justifying grace. But faith in Christ unlocks the blessings with which God has filled this world (Rom. 8:32, Rev. 21:7). We get to truly enjoy them, because we know these earthly blessings are only a light appetizer to the eternal glories and joys that await the saints. Preach the Gospel, have tables laden with good food, laugh like Jove, and invite the lost to see our liberty which Christ brought us.
So kiss your husband or wife passionately. Wrap the presents with that wonderfully thick paper. Bake pies. Melt chocolate. Play games late into the night. Have a God-glorifying blast. Host a dance off, with tons of laughter. In short, have a holly-jolly, Puritanical Christmas.
|↑1||Lewis, C. S. English Literature in the Sixteenth Century: Excluding Drama. Amen House, LO: Oxford University Press, 1954. 34|