When you are reading here whether you found me intentionally or accidently, please take time to leave a comment and let me know where you are and what you are thinking. I love feed back. Vondi

Thursday, December 3, 2009

and now Christmas!

Now we enter the Christmas holidays.

I love Christmas time. I like the colors-red and green against white with the punctuations of gold and blue sparkles. I like the lights, all colors and all combinations. I like the sounds of Christmas songs everywhere. I hope for snow and cold crisp air every year. I like the decorations everywhere. I like the nativity scenes with shepherds and wise men mixed indiscriminately at the manger. I like the Santas in the department stores. I like all the fantasy surrounding the reindeer and the North Pole and the elves’ workshops. I like reading the Christmas story from Luke. I like reading the story of the ‘Littlest Angel.” I like reciting “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house…” I even like the feelings of joy and good-will that seem to be generated whether true or false. I like the opportunity to give gifts to those we love and even those we think kindly of but neglect to acknowledge mostly. I like it all.

But every year I’m confronted with two sets of people who are both very militant in their feelings about Christmas. One group insists that we should not participate in Christmas celebrations at all because they are Pagan. The other group is affronted and angry because people are taking Christ out of Christmas by saying ‘happy holidays,’ and refusing to allow nativity scenes on public grounds. Both groups are missing the whole point of Christmas.

To those who say we shouldn’t even participate in Christmas I say, “Who other than the People of God who have been redeemed should be rejoicing in His Birth! We of all people should rejoice at His Birth!" Yes, I know the Baby didn’t redeem us, but the Man He grew to be did! His Life as a Man could never have happened had he not been born as a real baby and grew as a human, “subject to like passions” as we are.

The angels in heaven saw fit to rejoice and celebrate His Birth. The Lord hung a new star in the heavens to honor of it. The Magi traveled hundreds of miles to honor Him. Why is it wrong for us to celebrate it?

Why not observe it when the rest of the world does? The time opens wide the doors for witnessing about His Life and Death and Salvation. Give gifts with the Love God demonstrated in giving His Son. Rejoice with the elation of the angels and show good-will to all. Yes, we should demonstrate those feelings all year, I know that. Consider though: God loves us always and gives us good gifts always, yet He chose the birthday of Christ to demonstrate it especially, over and above other times. We need to do the same.

When those who call themselves the People of God are so nasty, yes, nasty and mean spirited, about the evil of observing Christmas they deny the very thing that makes us able to triumph over our flesh. The fact that Jesus was born and lived as a Man, is our example and an assurance of our ability to live the same way through His Power. It is something to rejoice over, not a time to pull righteous robes around our shoulders and cause friction and hard feelings. We destroy our message and witness with this kind of attitude.

Self righteousness creeps in so easily sometimes. I guess what strikes me as most deceptive about the position is that many times the ones who are so oppositional to celebrating Christmas have an “Appreciation Day” that they celebrate with their family and friends, ‘so the kids won’t be left out.’ Phooey! How hypocritical can we be?

Then there is the second group who go around bemoaning the fact that society is ‘taking Christ out of Christmas.” That is about as foolish as the first position. Once again their very attitude is belying the message they are trying to present. So what if people don’t want to say ‘Merry Christmas” ( I don’t like the idea of ‘making merry’ at Christmas anyway. It represents drunkenness and debauchery to me. I say “Happy Christmas” ) If someone says, ‘Happy Holidays” we can still put Christ right back in there and say “Merry Christmas.” But no, too often people preach a little sermon that falls on deaf ears because of the nastiness that creeps into the speech. They leave no witness at all.

We tend to forget that no one knows the exact date of Jesus Birth. The Catholic Church early on arbitrarily picked the date to celebrate Christ’s birth so it would coincide with the pagan winter rites. There is nothing sacred about December 25th. Why fuss? We want to promote good will to men, but then we turn right around and get all offended over celebrating His Birth! There’s just something very wrong with that attitude.

Others get all offended with someone who writes “Xmas.” They have “crossed out Jesus.” But an ‘X” was the symbol from early times for Christians and Christ. Why not use it for an opportunity to present Christ? They have already called more attention to Him by using the X than they would by just writing “Christmas.” Don’t be offended, rejoice! A door has been opened.

Someone griped to me the other day that people were calling the “Christmas tree” a ‘holiday bush.’ Again they were offended because it was taking Christ out of Christmas. Dear me! Do they know where the Christmas tree came from? Early pagans would cut branches of ever green and bring them into the house to be decorated with bright bits of metal and images of their gods. Even Jeremiah decried the pagan practice of bring in a tree and decorating it. Don’t get all hyped up because someone calls it a holiday bush. If you want to regard that beautiful erection in your living room during December each year as a Christmas tree, that’s okay with me. It has that meaning TO YOU. I think Christmas trees are pretty too, but again there is nothing sacred about the Christmas tree. They are not holy symbols. They are purely decorations!

On whichever side of the issue you may stand, be very careful of your attitude. Satan is using one of the most glorious events in human history to tear apart the Church and destroy its witness to the world. Instead of being a loud and abrasive noise, try being like Paul in the pantheon at Athens. He could have taken a nasty attitude from several directions. He chose rather to ignore the wholesale deception and evil all around him and seized the opportunity to preach Christ. He could have attacked their beliefs on all sides instead he stood up and said, “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”

However you stand regarding Christmas don’t get all wrapped up with defending and attacking and standing for. What a fantastic time of year to have an influence. People will listen now who might not listen at any other time of year! Just do like Paul and declare Jesus!

No comments:

Post a Comment