Tuesday, November 29, 2011
In Search Of Christmas
Over the past couple of years there has been a struggle inside of me around this time of year. What is that? About Christmas. Why is that? The commercialization? Not really, but that does play part of my thought process during the Holiday Season.
I had a great talk today with dear brother in Christ, Whitt Madden, about an article that I posted on Facebook yesterday about Christmas. This article pretty much summed up a lot of what has been going on within me lately. To put it frankly, I am torn. I am battling 43 years of instilled holiday cheer with Christmas as it really is, where it is rooted and what it has become.
To sum up the battle in a few words - Christmas did not start out as a “Christian Holiday” (Holy Day), it began as a pagan festival in recognition of the sun’s position during the winter solstice. The Roman Catholic church did not like this and began to “Christianize” the festival and pull the congregation back from the worship of Saturn, the sun god. I will not rehash what is common on the web with all that was added or “Christianized” in the process, but much of it is still seen this day in same or slightly changed forms (Yule log, tree, etc.) Fast forward to our day and society has thrown Christmas back to pagan rituals with worship of money, giving gifts, receiving gifts, decorations, family get togethers, and so many more rituals that now begin even before Halloween.
So, what is Christmas this day and age? It is not a reverence to a sun god, but it is definitely still not reverence to the Son of God and His birth either. It is a mish-mash of Roman Catholic traditions (Christ-Mas, being the most obvious) and the love of “me” (what can I do to make me feel better (give gifts,, etc), what will I get this year, how pretty can I make my tree, how many people can I feed, how many people will come to my house, and on and on). But Christ is nowhere to be found.
Am I ready to throw in the towel for Christmas? Not entirely, but to continue in how the world “celebrates” Christmas, yes. I have seen both sides of this argument played out last year and starting to see it this year. In the one camp are the staunch “You better not be celebrating Christmas - it is pagan and you definitely can’t be a Christian and celebrate Christmas - you are a heretic” contrasted with the other camp “I love Christmas time of year, family, fun, giving, singing, mistletoe, Christmas tree up before Halloween, spiced cider. Oh, and Jesus too” camp that thinks the other camp is nuts for calling them nuts and back and forth. Ughhhhh. Alas, I fit into neither camp, but somewhere in between.
I am so thankful for brothers like Whitt that God has placed in my life. He has had very similar convictions as I have (as well as others around me too). After speaking with him today I think he had the most Christ centered reaction to Christmas I have ever heard - let it be about Christ and His glory. How novel is that? Instead of giving electronics or toys that will be forgotten or broken in a few days or weeks, give that money to Cure International and watch God work through that gift to show Christ to someone in need of medical attention. Do not give a gift that does not point to Christ, either directly or that will bring people together in the Name of Christ. Some things could be bibles, hand made devotionals, donations to Cure, donation to World Vision to buy livestock for families in impoverished areas, donation to Heart Cry Missionary Society to support indigenous missionaries across the world, donations to your local Church or ministry, giving your time to Christ based missions to show the love of Christ to others. So many ways that can make an eternal impact FOR the Kingdom rather than temporary splashes that will be gone tomorrow and have no impact whatsoever.
At Whitt’s website, Be The Domino, he is a few days in to a series called “Give This Christmas Away”. I highly suggest that you check out this series and let the heart of this series impact you. Go to God and pray how He would use you to give Him away this Christmas season instead of an iTunes gift card or blu-ray player or even a baby doll. Give a gift in someone’s name to a Christ based ministry, give that person a card and inscribe in it how that the money normally spent on the superficial is now being placed in the hands of God to do the Supernatural in someone’s life. Who knows what eternal impacts can be made from Christ focused giving this year and years to come.
I know that my focus on Christmas has evolved and is continuing to be sanctified and brought into a more Christ focused view. I will not, however, be calling anyone a heretic that continues to “celebrate” as I always did nor will I be confused over the other extreme in pointing the finger back and calling people “scrooge” for shunning the “pagan rituals” of this land. As all other aspects of my life I wish to glorify the Lord in this, especially since the Holiday was given His Name.