Weekly Sabbath Survey
Christmas: To Be or Not To Be? — 12-21-13
The Christmas season is upon us, with all its pageantry, gaiety, shopping, decorating, cooking, and traveling. It is the season of Peace and Good Will. Most of us are a little happier with family and friends, smiling brighter, polite and courteous with strangers. Holiday cheer, we call it. In America the whole nation comes under the canopy of this beautiful time of the year. Christmas includes the usual things we think of: gifts, trees, colored lights, singing of traditional “carols”, family gatherings and church services, “Merry Christmas” greetings called out to one another. There is a unique kind of excitement and celebration — a shiny light in the eyes of a child, a warmth of heart not known or expressed by so many people at the same time at any other time of the year.
As we have all become better educated, we realize that much of what we do at this time of year is not Biblical and stems from the pagan practices and lore introduced into The Church around the second century A.D. We know the date for celebrating was set to coincide with the pagan feast of the Winter Solstice. Scholars are saying the birth occurred in Fall or Spring. Either way, they would not have been with flocks in the field at night in the winter cold. Just about everything about Christmas is some non-Judeo/Christian custom. The tree, the lights, the mistletoe, the yule log.
All this makes some of us wonder about doing away with this holiday completely. It wouldn’t hurt to put a damper on the insane spending some of us do every year. We can teach our children better, teach them to focus on others less fortunate than ourselves, and on the God who so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son. Our music should focus on our homes and our faith, not the tree or the winter weather.
However, it is my thought that doing away with the whole thing, just putting “Christmas” in the trash, would be throwing away a most high profile asset for evangelism. There is no better time to bring unbelievers into the fold of the Great Shepherd. We can use Christmas to tell the salvation story wherever there is an opportunity. This one season has the secular person and the lukewarm Christian having to at least think about the Lord. We must realize and tell others, the very heart of our Christmas is something more than human good will; a list of traditions; the annual profit month of retail business. And it is certainly more than irreverent office parties, the filled up drunk tank at the police station and the numerous traffic accidents that occur during the season. This one mystical, magical holiday is so ingrained in humanity, that it is an event that cannot be ignored in many nations of the world. Even non-believers see something different in the rest of us at this time. Christmas is a time of extraordinary love, peace,hope, because Jesus was born.
And of course, that jolly ol’ fat man himself. While it is true he could be a composite of several legendary figures, it is commonly accepted that the basis for the Christian-era Santa Claus is Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna, in Turkey. Nicholas lived in the 4th century A.D. He was very rich, generous, and loving toward children. He made toys he gave to poor children by going around at night, throwing them in through their windows. The Russian Orthodox Church later raised St. Nicholas, to a position of great esteem. The Roman Catholic Church also honored Nicholas as one who helped children and the poor. St. Nicholas has come to be known by many names: Father Christmas, Pierre Noel, Kris Kringle, Santa Cohen, and in Texas, Pancho Claus. He came to the U.S. with Dutch immigrants, and was called Santa Claus. There’s no reason to rob children of the magic of believing in something as awesome as Santa, especially if we are teaching them about Jesus and who He is. The ‘lying’ and them maybe thinking Jesus is a lie too, is not to worry. Did you ever hear anyone say, “I don’t accept Jesus because my parents lied to me about Santa”?
This season chosen and set aside many years ago, is a time for remembrance of the birth of our Savior, Jesus the Messiah. For our salvation the infinite God stooped to become a human baby. The baby grew to be a man, and He died for the sins of The World. There are so many who celebrate year after year without ever discovering the true identity of The Messiah. The real meaning of Christmas is to know Him intimately and to believe in the One who sent Him. I would speculate that most of us will have people in our own family, gathering with us around the egg nog bowl, who DO NOT KNOW HIM.
Here’s our chance to make Christmas really mean something eternal. This year, we should try giving people Jesus. He is God’s indescribable gift to humanity.
Unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Messiah the Lord. Luke 2:11
Charlene Reams Manning
Believer in the Lord Jesus Messiah