I woke up this morning knowing that I wanted to write something about Christmas. The reason is painfully obvious; because it is Christmas morning. :) My two children are currently tucked away in bed, still sleeping even though it is almost 8am. The coffee is hot, the weather is cold, and the house is warm. I feel at peace. No worries about work with deadlines hanging over my head. Nothing to interfere with this peace and safety for one day. The world outside is quiet. I haven't heard a car drive by the house all morning.
I imagine children waking up all over town, running to the Christmas tree checking to see which presents have their name on them.
"How many presents did I get this year?! Did I get what I wanted? I hope Mom likes what I got her. I can hardly wait to give Dad or Wife or Brother or Husband or Sister the gift I got them..." These thoughts are floating through the minds of many today, myself included.
Parents are groggily rising, excited to see the glee and happiness on their children's faces as they tear open their gifts. Hot coffee and hot chocolate is being brewed. Pancakes are being flipped and topped with sugary yumminess. Sausage is sizzling in the pan and filling the air with it's intoxicating aroma.
What to write about Christmas?
It's all been said before and in a much more eloquent way than I am capable of. Christmas has been controversial in the Christian world for ages past and will continue to be a controversy in the future. How do we handle Christmas as Christians? What does the bible say about it? Let's consider some of the rhetoric floating around Christian circles today, and see if we can come to a conclusion. I'm sure it won't be the final answer, but maybe we can at least consider what Jesus would want.
Christmas is a pagan holiday
Many in the religious world might write about how Christmas is really a pagan holiday. They might bring out points like " what the Christmas tree really represented from it's pagan roots". They might remind us that Jesus' birth is not recorded. They may even bring up the fact that the date for Christmas is really the traditional winter solstice when the days first start to become longer. We might even start to feel a little guilty about participating in Christmas when we read this ...worrying that God might be frowning down on us for being practicing pagans.
Put Christ back in Christmas
Other's might want to talk about how we need to "bring Christ back into Christmas". We have to make sure that the government doesn't ban nativity scenes from local townships or that we are allowed to keep the word "Christ" as a part of the word Christmas. This, they say, is a sure sign that secularism is destroying our Christian values and traditions. They are deeply offended when someone says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". They feel they must ensure that Christian values are not trampled on. They may even suggest rising up and taking a stand to demand, maybe even force through laws and statutes, that no one can ban nativity scenes or tell us how to use the word Christmas. "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" becomes their battle cry and Lord help you if you stand in their way!
What is the True Joy of Christmas?
This blog is dedicated to the idea of a personal journey through the bible; unfortunately the bible is silent on the idea of the celebration or keeping of Christmas. In fact, there is nowhere in the bible that we are directed to remember the birth of Jesus; neither are we instructed to which day of the year Jesus was actually born on. Right here the "Christmas is a pagan holiday" camp would stop me and say,
"See! Christmas is of the devil! Stop now, before it is too late!"
But let's look at this from another angle by asking ourselves a question. Why did God keep these bits of fact out of the bible? He easily could have included them if He had wanted us to know them or observe them. And, if he had wanted us to observe them in a certain way, don't you think He would have told us what those ways were? I suggest to you that He did...
Isn't it really all about Jesus and the gift of His Life to save us from our sins? Observing a certain day in a certain way, doesn't have to make us stop thinking of Jesus' true mission and true reason for coming to this earth? It doesn't have to keep us from wanting to share the gospel with others, even family members. Jesus was here not just to receive glory to himself. He was here to serve. He was here to save. He was here to love and to teach us to love. He was here to be with us and to know us and to help us to KNOW HIM. Yes, I say let's make Jesus "the Reason for the Season", but let's make the season last a lifetime. Let's make the season about doing what Jesus would want us to do...help others to know Him and His love and saving grace. What good is the gift of a toy, or a trinket, or a new this, or a new that, if we do not have the peace and security of a saving and loving relationship with Jesus?
I say, enjoy Christmas! Savor the peace of not having to work for a day and spend the time with your children. Give gifts, but do not neglect the most important gift of all, love of each other. Don't let the love of stuff eclipse hugs and laughter and joy and peace and friendship and caring. Don't let Christmas be about anything other than Jesus; Jesus expressed through love for each other. Teach your children the gospel message..it is everywhere in the bible. Give them the gift of peace and safety through faith in the life of Jesus Christ and what that means for each and every one of us; this is the True Joy of Christmas.
The "gifts" from Jesus are italicized and underlined below. This is the gospel message:
Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Rom 5:2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. Rom 5:3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.Rom 5:4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.Rom 5:5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. Rom 5:6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Rom 5:7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. Rom 5:8 But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.Rom 5:9 And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God's condemnation.Rom 5:10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.