Taking a break from posts about food, budget, and new items in my Etsy shop.
Most likely, if people who know me in my real life beyond the virtual world, read this post, I may stir up some contention. I don’t expect the opinions I will share here to be popular among certain people I’ve grown up knowing, but we each evolve as we age, I’m encouraged to have the opportunity to talk to many older Christians who admit to their beliefs and opinions changing as they’ve made it further through life. It’s a healthy sign to be able to grow, learn, and change beyond school years. Learning doesn’t have to stop when you stop paying someone to educate you! 😉
Everyone has seen a display, scene, live or otherwise like this:
We know what this image depicts, a man named Joseph, a woman (though really she was much more girl-like than woman) named Mary, and a newborn baby named Jesus. Many people have heard the story of a young virgin betrothed to a man, visited by an angel, and told she was pregnant with the baby who would grow up and save all the generations of people in the world. The fiance Joseph wasn’t sure what to do with a pregnant fiancee not carrying his child. The angel went to him too and said it was all good, get married. The child is special. The father was actually God. Joseph took Mary with him to be counted in his family for the census in Bethlehem. No room in the inn, baby is born in a manger of some sort in some sort of makeshift shelter whether it be a lean-to or cave.
This story is in the Bible, Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-20. God wanted us to know certain details about the birth of His son (for those who accept God is alive, that He wrote a book of truth, and that it is still valid today). What is not included in these accounts is a specific date, or instructions regarding whether to celebrate this birth. Stay with me folks!
From the time I was a young child, I’ve heard many teachers and thinkers explaining how you can find out the real date, or approximation of the birth of our Christ. I think even those holding religious Christmas Eve services accept and acknowledge December 25 is not the true birth date of Jesus. I’ve heard and read the history behind the Christmas celebration, Catholics coming up with an alternative to a pagan celebration, making it a more holy day. Plenty of other people know this story too. (While we’re on history, I LOVE the real story of Saint Nicholas as a man, just like any other man, accept he really cared about poor kids and would drop oranges and other treats off on their door step Christmas Eve. I’m cool with that “Santa”. I’ll come back to this in a minute.)
So I’m not here to bust a Christmas myth or anything, I am giving readers the credit I think they deserve for hearing this already. What I am doing is stepping out from the wrappings of my conservative-in-certain-areas, Church of Christ upbringing that bans any religious acknowledgement or participation of the “Christ”-side of Christmas. I’m fed up with the bitterness, disdain, and scorn I’ve witnessed of people in this religious group for those who choose to bring some Jesus into this time of year. Look, I’m not going to start baking a birthday cake for Jesus. That makes no sense to me on any level. (For example, I doubt Jesus would have eaten something as unhealthy as cake for starters, He’s in heaven now, he’s not going to be eating the cake; and the Bible doesn’t say “Let’s have a birthday party for Jesus every year til He returns”.) I probably won’t participate in organizing some sort of nativity viewing. But I also won’t condemn, scorn, or talk behind the backs of people who do. Like I said, I give credit to people for already knowing the true historical origins of Dec. 25 getting it’s start in the world.
I also have no problems with people attending a Christmas Eve service. To me, Christian radio stations, editorials in the paper, TV specials, are all opportunities to get the conversations started. I want people to know Jesus. I want people to love and serve God. At no other time in the year are people as aware or in tune to something positive about God and religion. We could be the people there when someone we know who previously had no interest in faith, would want to participate in something about the “Baby Jesus”.
What also doesn’t mesh with me is mixing the “jolly”, red-suited, materialism-enabling version of Santa with the nativity picture. Like I stated earlier, the original St. Nick story, a nice guy showing charity and concern for poor kids, awesome! Great example to share with kids all year round. The gluttonous, guilt-trip angle, fat guy with presents? Lame. Sorry to the entire world who loves this part of Christmas. It just doesn’t go along with anything I believe in at any time of year. I don’t want to guilt my kids into being good so they get a present from a myth that fuels materialism. I don’t want to train my kids to believe in someone they’ll later learn is fake. I don’t want to encourage my kids to go sit on the lap of a stranger at the mall. Ugh. Creepy.What I do want is my children to have a solid conscience, making good choices from a good heart out of the desire to be good for the sake of being good and doing good for others because it makes their lives better, brightens someone else’s day. This approach takes commitment and hard word, but pays off so huge! And if my kids are getting a getting a gift from us or someone else, I want them to know who the giver is so they can learn to appreciate genuine generosity of others. I don’t want my kids making huge lists of wants and being consumed with themselves. I want them constantly thinking of ways to do for and give to others. Imagine everyone having that mindset? How awesome would this world be?
Finally, on the nativity thing, I will support, and even attend with someone who invites me to go, in the effort to just to fuel the message that Jesus did come to this earth, He is real, His birth was miraculous. But that’s the extent of my involvement of that side of religious Christmas. I believe God gave us specific instructions to remember and celebrate one specific event in Jesus’s ministry. His death and resurrection. A lot of people restrict that remembrance to Easter, another once a year deal. But check these accounts and see if we’re not supposed to actually celebrate every week! Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:17-29 This last passage in Corinthians, specifies “as often as you drink of it, in remembrance of me…. you proclaim the Lord’s death til he comes (vs. 25, 26b).” I used the ESV translation. Many people take the “as often as you drink of it” portion to literally mean the weekly gathering in your place of worship.
So I have no problem wishing people a “Merry Christmas” as a way to cheer people up and be encouraging. I want people to feel comfortable sharing their plans with me, and at the right moment, I want to be there to start that conversation about making their lives about serving our Lord and savior all year long, not just remembering a sweet baby one day a year. His life was so much bigger than that!