Yes, it’s that time of the year again…I have previously written about how we do, or don’t, celebrate Christmas. Rather than try to rewrite old thoughts I will just copy and paste from the archives. You can find the original post here.
Well it’s that time of year again eh! A time when we get loads of sideway looks from people who question us as to why we don’t ‘do‘ Christmas. In actual fact we do ‘celebrate’ Christmas…every day of the year! The way in which we celebrate is a decision that John and I decided upon…not through reading of others opinions and lifestyle choices rather, through our faith in God and our walk along the path of life.
I have an issue with our modern society and feel that we have been sucked into much consumerism and materialism. Don’t get me wrong; I love tradition. I love creating memories for my children. I love doing things together that form family bonds. But I don’t see how spending money on presents, decorating our homes with unnecessary items (that for those Down-Under are out-of-season) is celebrating the birth of the Saviour of mankind. So many people are caught up ‘doing Christmas’ that they miss the true wonder of it all…they’re drowning in a sea of tradition and of trying to ‘keep up’.
I love to give of my time, money and energy…I look for ways to give. But is it wise or prudent to go into debt in order to give presents simply out of a sense of obligation or because everyone else is or because it is ‘Christmas’. In the name of Christ, I can give to others any day of the year.
I feel prickles whenever I hear children exclaiming to their parents or friends what they WANT for Christmas. As though it is expected! I don’t fully understand how someone can be truly grateful and thankful if they know that their gift is coming. I know, as believers, we do this: as sinners we cry to the Lord for salvation and God delivered us through Christ and it is this that compels me to be thankful for Christ every day…to teach my children the ways of God, every day…to give honor to Him, every day. But to give presents simply because it is this time of year doesn’t teach our children much at all. I still don’t even see how the whole gift giving thing comes into Christmas. Christ was the *gift*. The Father God was the *giver*. The gift has been given. What that has to do with giving my child a new toy or new clothes in December escapes me.
I love getting together and having a family feast and a sweet time of fellowship at any time…and we can do this at any time while also giving thanks to the Lord. The focus can be on the Father, each other and serving but not about decorations, presents or things that can distract us from Jesus, The Truth. In fact, I see a danger in becoming too familiar with the way the world celebrates Christmas: familiarity with Christmas and all things Christian *can* breed familiarity- which isn’t necessarily a positive thing. Luke 4: 16-24 describes how the local people missed seeing the true identity of Jesus, as they were so familiar with Him. That’s why it’s important that the traditions we build are meaningful, rich and not done frivolously.
John and I decided that we would not teach our children about Santa…despite the local Christian school embracing the philosophy. (I remember when I first learnt that Santa wasn’t real…that he didn’t bring my presents and eat the milk and bikkies I left. I wasn’t devastated at the reality of his non-existance…I was devastated to realise that my parents knew about this untruth and let me believe in it…that they found some sort of happiness in having me believe a lie! I couldn’t believe that they lied to me! I recall adamantly telling my Mother that I was very sad because of that. That was my persepctive, as a child.) Anyway, as our children got older, we started to learn about St. Nicholas and the symbols and traditions of Christmas…yet we couldn’t see the relevance of it in the Christian’s life or in the celebration at Christmastime. We found that a lot of the tradition and symbolism was taken from pagan origins…so I started investigating this further and further… We tried celebrating Christmas by putting ‘Christ back into Christmas‘, but it was still like pouring new wine into old wineskins- it still clanged.
So much of our traditions and customs are not based on Scripture. So much of what I believed to be truth actually came from Hallmark and all those greeting cards! I get a little annoyed at how many people get all sentimental at Christmas time and they all are fine with Jesus…as a baby! But, how many recognise that He was God’s purpose and plan to redeem mankind? I like a bit of emotion and sentimentality…but when it comes to matters of faith then I think that if we need to whoop it up, then the thing (object of our faith) our faith is in, isn’t very solid. I like this article: The Power of Christmas Truth
Am I a wet-blanket or a party-pooper? Some will certainly think so! But, this is my walk to tread…I would never propose to tell anyone else that they should or should not celebrate any day in any certain way. I’d rather point out truths and facts and have everyone make an informed decision for themselves. It isn’t so much about whether you do or don’t – it is do you know WHY you do what you do? In it all, WHAT are you passing on to your children– a legacy of timeless truth or of empty consumerism?
A few years ago, Miss R went to the community Carols by Candlelight last week, that was held at our church grounds. The church was working with the local council and hosting the event. The youth leader asked her to go early and help to paint childrens’ faces to which she was more than happy to help. After I picked her up, she was covered in paint, but I was dismayed to see that all the face/body painting was of Christmas trees and non related pictures! Okay, I know it’s a bit hard to paint a true Nativity scene on a face but is that the best that we (as the body of Christ) could do? Oh boy.
What animals were present at the Nativity?
How soon after Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem was Jesus born?
Checking with Scripture (Luke is good here), how many did you get right or how much of your knowledge comes from paintings of the Nativity and greeting cards?
What is Christmas to you…really? Is it a time of feasting, laughter, praise, remembrance, sadness, loneliness? How about we remember why the gift was given: The Ugliness of Christmas:
For us, this is not a divisive issue – we are free to visit people and receive a gift (at the risk of our refusal offending them) and we are free not to. It isn’t an issue of salvation – our salvation is not dependant upon whether we celebrate Christmas or not. We don’t believe that Scripture commands believers to celebrate or not celebrate Christmas, despite the fact that Christmas wasn’t observed until after the biblical era. We believe that Romans 14:5-6 and 1 Corinthians says it well.
We can set aside any day as a day unto the Lord.
1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether you do or don’t, or how you do or don’t, the main point, (in my opinion) is to not be ignorant of what you do (know why you do what you do), don’t be caught up in the worldy ways so that you miss the wonder of the eternal perspective, don’t get caught up in idolatry, consumerism or materialism and don’t treat the Saviour of the world with too much familiarity, lest that familiairty breed contempt.
The Truth of the Nativity
Is Christmas Necessary?
Why I don’t celebrate Christmas by Tim Hegg
This paper looks historically at the holiday, showing how many pagan symbols and practices are actually at its core.