Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas celebrations

Some people are so opposed to the idea of Christmas that they reject all of the current celebrations. I have a relative who belongs to a cult. He says that the Bible does not command the celebration of the birth of Christ so they do not. He taught his children to reject all of it, even to the point that one of them told my mother that Christmas lights were totally disgusting.

This is not a new thing nor is it restricted to cults. In early America, the Puritans rejected Christmas celebrations too. They deliberately worked on December 25 to show their attitude toward Christmas.

English law also reflects this Puritan influence for in 1644 a law was passed to make December 25 an official working day. For a while, it was literally illegal to cook plum pudding or mince pie during the Christmas season.

These days, some Christians have two celebrations; one day for gift-giving and turkey dinner, and another day to rejoice that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us.

God’s Word does not mention Christmas. It does talk about how believers might have differences of opinion about the importance of some days over others. 

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.  (Romans 14:5–6)
The point is not whether Christmas is the Lord’s actual birthday or not (it likely is not), or whether we should celebrate His birth or not (I am so glad He came), but that we do everything in His name, filled with His Spirit, and because we love Him.

My family traditions concerning Christmas were secular. Each family had their own gift Christmas morning. None of us had a lot of money, but my parents always managed something for the four of us. Then my grandmother or one of the aunts hosted the families for dinner. This was no small celebration. My father was one of six, and with all those couples and kids, more than 25 people sat down for turkey. After dinner, the men played poker, the women played another card game, and the children played with one another. I remember lots of laughter and lots of food.

Now some of those cousins are Christians. These believers continue to have children and grandchildren over for dinner, and still exchange gifts. For us, Christmas Eve is the celebration about Jesus. Our church has a candles and carols service that has become a time of worship and rejoicing. Jesus came to earth, became a man, and then died on the Cross for our sin. We have a Savior and Redeemer who choose to first become a baby in a manger. Wow, that is wonderful! This is a special event in our lives.

The next day, our family reads the Christmas story from the Bible and we pray as usual before our meal. We eat too much, play games and laugh until our stomachs hurt. All day I have one ear on the carols playing in the background and my heart is singing because Jesus came.

From this passage today, I’m glad that God says there are no rules about celebrating Christmas day or celebrating Jesus any day. We do it because He loves us, and because that is so, we can love Him and each other with great joy, not just December 25 but all the time.

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