Christmas: To Be or Not To Be?

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
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